A man trying to cope with the heartbreaking loss of his father has found a way to provide solace to grieving strangers — by taking their loved ones out to ride one last wave.

When Dan Fischer lost his father Karl Fischer to pancreatic cancer, he turned to surfing to heal through the power of the ocean. He wrote his father's name on his surfboard and took it out to sea in Newport, Rhode Island, earlier this year. The surfer said the experience felt like he was sharing the adventure with his dad.

"Surfing is so healing. You're so deeply connected to the ocean and to nature, and the saltwater immersion sort of washes away all the negativity that's going on inside of you," he told CNN.

After the surfing trip in January, Fischer put out an open invitation to those sharing the same pain of losing a loved one.

"If you love the ocean, or you know someone who loves the ocean, or maybe you lost someone who just love[d] being outdoors ... comment on this video with their name and a bit of their story, and I'll put their name on my board here, just like I've done with my dad upfront. And I'll take them out in the ocean for you," he said in a video posted on social media.

Thousands of strangers responded after Fischer promised to etch their late loved ones' names on his surfboard. This was the beginning of the One Last Wave Project, which is now a community of grieving individuals who are healing together.

Within two months, Fischer received more than 5,000 names that now cover two entire surfboards. Fischer has taken out the boards several times, allowing the names — written with his silver sharpie — to glisten in the sun as he rides the waves. He also puts a clear acrylic coat over the names to make sure they don't fade in the water. He is also working to add more surfboards to his collection.

Fischer said he created the One Last Wave Project so people could share stories about their loved ones and lean on each other through grief.

"You feel like you're the only one that's dealing with that. Even though you know it's happening to other people, there's a feeling of solitude," Fischer told CNN. "And when I was able to be vulnerable in those moments and share my grief with other individuals, it allowed other people to sort of break down that barrier of feeling alone and be able to share their loved ones as well."

Fischer said most of the messages he receives are about deceased individuals who had a deep love for the ocean or who longed to visit the beach but couldn't because of illness.

"We get messages from parents who've lost children who always wanted to learn to surf, or who had such fond memories of being at the beach and building sandcastles," he said further.

Fischer plans to continue taking strangers' loved ones out to sea and wants to take the project to other corners of the globe.

He also set up a GoFundMe page for the project. On it, he wrote, "I do want to reiterate; you do NOT need to donate money to have your loved one on the board. Everyone is always welcome with open arms. However, if you would like to contribute in this way, I am extremely grateful for your generosity. It will allow us to continue our mission."

Representative image Credit: Pixabay / Annie Spratt