FIVE years ago, Brett Ratten's life was changed forever.

The sudden and tragic death of his eldest son Cooper meant Ratten was confronted with a new reality; one where he was forced to deal with his own grief while simultaneously leading his family through it.

Five years on, the St Kilda coach has opened up on loss, grief, and the importance of looking out for others on the Adapting In My Grief podcast.

A story that sticks out in Ratten's mind takes him back to early 2020, on what would have been Cooper's 21st birthday.

"Something that was pretty special was Cooper's 21st," he said.

"It gets me a bit upset, but at the footy club, the players got around me and said, 'We know it's a special day but a very hard day for you'. Then they just all came up and gave us a cuddle … it was awesome, it was so good.

"And it'’s just those little things about acknowledging him. You know, he might be not here, but he is here with us. It's one of the hardest things about it.

"Tim Membrey was the one that spoke, and Gears as well, the support there was awesome."

I'll never get over Cooper's tragedy, never, but I'm trying to learn to live with it

- Brett Ratten

Ratten said the playing group's collective understanding of his personal circumstances was a strong sign of a great culture.

"The St Kilda footy club and Andrew Bassat through to Matty Finnis and the board, they sent flowers and things like that which was beautiful.

"My PA Jules – she's a ripper – and Simon Lethlean as well, they sent things, and I was very appreciative of what they did.

"But then you get the players, who didn't actually have to do what they did, so it was just awesome."

Among all the moments of heart-warming support, there's still an underlying pain, but importantly, a resilience to carry on and continue his journey of healing.

"I'll never get over Cooper's tragedy, never, but I'm trying to learn to live with it."

Listen to the full podcast here.

Adapting In My Grief - hosted by Milton Walters - is about managing grief and loss in the workplace and how employers can support individuals long-term. It's based on Milton’s own personal circumstances after the loss of his wife in 2019, and features interviews with a range of everyday people as well as high profile professionals like Brett Ratten and Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan.