Discovery Channel's popular Alaskan Bush People reality series will say goodbye to patriarch Billy Bush with an emotional episode on Sunday, Oct. 31. Here, son Bear Brown reflects on his family's loss.
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Over the past 13 seasons, millions have fallen in love with Alaskan Bush People's Billy Bush and his family of nine. They've watched as the family weathered the elements and bear attacks on their isolated Alaskan homestead, banded together as mom Ami beat an advanced cancer diagnosis, and began a new life in rural Washington. As recently as last Sunday, fans tuned in to the massively popular reality series to watch Billy motivate his family — which includes sons Matt, Bam, Bear, Gabe, and Noah, and daughters Bird and Rain — as they continued to build out their new home, North Star Ranch. But those who follow the family's journey in real time know that Billy died in February after suffering a seizure at the age of 68.

The Oct. 31 episode of Alaskan Bush People will document the 9-1-1 call made by a member of production during Billy's seizure before moving forward to show how the family says goodbye to their beloved patriarch and attempts to honor his legacy.

Ahead of the episode (airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel), Bear spoke to EW about how the family has been coping, why he's grateful their grief is being shared with the world, and what they're doing to keep Billy's memory alive.

Billy Brown Alaskan Bush People Credit: Discovery
Bear Brown; Billy Brown
| Credit: Discovery (2)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Losing a parent is an extremely personal experience, but you also shared your father with the world. What has it been like to grieve privately for all these months and now share that experience publicly?

BEAR BROWN: I took it pretty hard. We all did, really, because Da's passing was pretty unexpected. Everyone I passed on the road or saw me in a store would give me condolences and say how sorry they were. That's one thing that I try to keep in mind, that the whole world — everyone who watched a show, anyway — loved and definitely misses Da. And it's hard. I've been trying to just keep as strong as I can with both my family and the public. Mom has actually been the stone — she's been the strongest, to be honest. I have broken down a couple of times in tears and stuff.

I'm sure your family is all taking turns leaning on each other.

That is one thing that's made it a little bit easier, having other people to lean on. Sometimes they'd lean on you, and then other times you'd lean on them. Rain is really focused on mining for gold around the ranch. That was one of the last things that she and Da talked about, and Rain got really into it. I actually think she has gold fever, but that was one thing that helped her through the grieving process — to get on the gold as much as she can, to try to fulfill what Da and her had talked about. I always try to be as completely supportive as I can. It's definitely the hardest thing that my family has ever been through, but it has been easier having other members of the pack to lean on for sure.

You all had just gone through the trauma of losing a lot of your progress on the ranch due to the wildfire. Has rebuilding North Star Ranch been a welcome distraction?

Da had been talking to everyone about the plan [to rebuild]. And then, Da's passing just made us want to keep going with the dream, of course — trying to build up the ranch and get everything fixed. It gave us something to do instead of just sitting around and moping. We actually have our hands quite full. It was always Da and Mom planning things like the new barn, and so now Mom basically has that on her shoulders. We try and help and stuff, but I'm not really much of a numbers, building guy. But it's kind of nice having so much to do, to be honest, because it's honoring Da as well. It was literally his last wish, his final dream, to continue building up the ranch and get it sustainable for generations of Browns to come — somewhere you can just live and not really depend on other people, except for your family.

Do you watch episodes of the show?

I actually haven't watched it since Da passed.

How do you feel about having this ultimate family photo album, in the form of the show, that you can show your son, River, when he gets older? Something you can point to and say, "That was your grandfather."

That's something that is really cool. The show got to capture a lot of Da, a lot of what Da would say, and Da's speeches of like, "You can do it." I made a trip down to Texas with [River's mom] Raiven to visit her family, and I happened to see one of the episodes on at the hotel. I didn't actually watch it, but the part that was on was Da. It's really awesome to have the opportunity to go back and see all these great moments that normally would just be memories, but that I can go back and actually see him, like home videos, and then show him to River.

Your dad was always passionate about connecting with nature. Does being out in the woods around the ranch make you feel close to him?

Yes, actually. I've been climbing up at the top of a lot of trees, actually. I've just been remembering the old-time stuff, the stuff Da used to say when I would first climb up super high into the trees. Sometimes I almost think that I can hear his voice in the wind when I'm up high. And I have given out a few howls. [Laughs] But no, a lot reminds me of him. I spend a lot of time reflecting on the past and just remembering him a lot. Da meant a lot to me. He was my best friend and my hero.

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