She was a sight for sore eyes. Three months after her partner of eight years, Bryan Randall, died following a secret battle with ALS, Sandra Bullock was photographed in public — and she was grinning. Dressed in black leggings, sneakers and a bulky coat, the Oscar winner made her way down an L.A. sidewalk carrying two shopping bags on November 3. Amid her grief, says an insider, “Sandra has recently been able to begin smiling again.”

It’s taken work. “Facing Bryan’s death is still very difficult,” the insider tells Life & Style exclusively. “She’s doing what he always told her to do, though — breathing and taking life one day at a time.” Sandra didn’t expect to fall for the handsome former model-turned-photographer after she hired him to document her son Louis’ fifth birthday party in 2005. “After all the heartache she’s experienced,” including her brutal 2010 divorce from cheating husband Jesse James, 54, “Bryan was someone she never thought she’d find,” explains the insider. “They were perfect for each other. Now Sandra feels like she’s starting over again at 59.”

Focused on Family

Two years ago, Sandra publicly declared Bryan “the love of my life.” So it’s understandable that she’s struggled to come to terms with losing the partner she’s called “a saint,” a “beautiful human” and “a good man.” Sandra “hasn’t fully processed it all. It’s still very raw. She dealt with his care and all of the stress that came along with that, and it wasn’t easy,” says the insider of Bryan’s three-year battle with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, before it took his life at age 57. “She’s not in self-care mode yet — she’s still trying to protect and comfort her family.”

Indeed, Sandra’s kids, Louis, 13, and Laila, 11, have been her priority these last few months. “While it hasn’t been easy for her to stay strong, she’s determined to pick up the pieces for her children,” shares the insider. “Laila and Louis adored Bryan and continue to mourn the only father figure they really had.” The kids “were extremely close to Bryan,” adds the insider. “It’s been very difficult for them, but Sandra’s been there every moment.”

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She’s ensuring they work through their loss in the healthiest way possible. “They’re getting the support they need, which includes family therapy,” says the insider. There are reminders of Bryan all over the house — photographs, things he’s built for the kids: “Everywhere you look you see Bryan,” notes the insider. “And Sandra believes in talking about Bryan, opening up about their feelings toward him, how they miss him and how they’ll keep his memory alive.”

They’ll be doing that during the upcoming holiday season, too. Sandra knows “it’s going to feel empty without him around,” says the insider, especially this first year, so she’s “planning to make Thanksgiving and Christmas special with little tributes to Bryan. He loved the holidays and always helped the kids with decorating.”

According to the insider, Bryan’s adult daughter from a previous relationship, Skylar, will be welcome to join the actress, Louis and Laila. “Sandra and Skylar are close,” reveals the insider. “They bonded pretty quickly after she and Bryan got together, and she’ll always be a part of the family.”

Moving Forward

In 2022, Sandra revealed plans to take a lengthy hiatus from Hollywood — at least five years, she said — so she could spend more time with Louis and Laila. “I just want to be 24/7 with my babies and my family,” she explained, promising she’d return to acting and producing “when I’m done being a mom.” The world now knows she also took the break to be with Bryan, who wanted to keep his health battle private. “She was devoted to him, and when he got sicker, she put her career on hold,” confirms the insider. “Now her friends are trying to get her back into work mode, if only to keep her busy.”

Pals are also hopeful for a day when Sandra can open her heart again. “They want her to eventually put herself back out there, because we’re all deserving of love,” says the insider. “But it’s still too soon to bring that up. Dating is the last thing on her mind. Bryan is in her thoughts at all times.”

And he likely always will be. “Sandra’s heart has been shattered by the loss of Bryan,” acknowledges the insider. “Right now, she’s just learning to live again.”