PDF of 15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief!

I’ve had a lot of people contact me and ask if they can use this piece and pass it out, etc. I was going to design a PDF within the next week or so. Honestly, I’ve been so overwhelmed by the response to my blog over the last few days, and I’m just tired (I’m still dealing with my own grief), so even making one was making me more overwhelmed. But I wanted to do it, because I know it is needed. It was just going to take a little while…

Today, I was emailed by a man who’d already designed a piece that people can print off. This PDF looks amazing. I was going to design something almost exactly like it. I really just see God in this, because this is such a blessing. I’m just so happy to pass this onto anyone who needs it TODAY. May it help many, many people.

So thanks, John Nyborg. I really am so grateful for this.

You can download the PDF here.

Edit 11-29-13: I have compiled many of the comments into a post entitled “Advice & Thoughts on Grief.” Read it here.


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  • Sherrie

    Love this,i would love to share with greif group.

    • Yes, you can share it with anyone you’d like! :)

      • Robin Ann

        My husband died on October 6, 3013, Cathy. It is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life…Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday and then Valentine’s Day…next is his birthday on March 5th…but, really…every day is worse than the next. Everything I read makes sense…but the pain worsens every day. I am all alone where we live…without my Jimmy, I’m alone with no friends or family…they are 1,600 miles away. How I long to see a friend or family member in the morning when I wake, or at night before I go to sleep…I feel hopeless…I want to feel better but I don’t know how that is ever going to happen…helpless and hopeless…I can’t imagine a life without him…Where do I go, what do I do??

      • Kelli

        Robin Ann, I understand your pain… I just lost my fiance on January 9 (we were supposed to marry 2/14) and my father January 10 (he would have been 80 on 2/10/14) Their deaths were no related, but they both died peacefully in sleep. I am in recovery so I go to NA meetings & I attend couseling & joined a group of widows on facebook ( i just searched groups by topic) Get out talk to people, anybody…get involved in anything you can to get out of youself, donate time at hospital visit people without families.

  • Wow, John, thanks for this design. It is beautiful.

  • Bev Wotton

    My daughter and son in law suffered their third miscarriage on Nov 25,2013 and we were al devastated because we thought everything was good. What a miracle that your post showed up on my face book page last night!! I sent it to her and the rest of my family and it will hang on my bedroom wall as a reminder of how to get through this unhappy time. THANK YOU.

    • This brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it hanging up on your wall. I’m so glad that my words could help you in this very painful time. My thoughts and prayers are with you today, Bev.

  • Cathy Hill

    My husband passed away on October 13, 2013. Your post is most helpful. Thanksgiving has been really challenging today.

    • Sharon R Eye

      I know your feeling, mine passed away June 24 2013 and I still feel all the pain and feelings. Thanksgiving was truly hard and Christmas will be more so. My prayers for you Cathy.

      • Michelle

        Cathy and Sharon,

        My sympathies to you both. When each of my parents passed, that “first Thanksgiving, first Christmas” first of each holiday or significant date (anniversary,birthday, etc) was a challenge. If it was a challenge to make it through them when it was my parents … well, I can’t even begin to imagine the struggle of “the holidays” you ladies are experiencing. The 3rd year after my Dad passed, we as a family decided to break what had always been the “family tradition” on those important dates and create a “new tradition.” When we weren’t looking at it as an old family tradition it felt so much more peaceful. We later realized that we really did nothing different other than change the menu a bit and add some games instead of a movie after dinner – but it was enough of a change to help us learn to laugh and smile about times gone by. My prayers are with you both.

  • Jessie

    My son tragically left us on May 23rd, 2013. I want my son back!

    • Jimmy Hammond


      We so understand. A daughter Abigail passed May 1, 2013. I scream everyday that I want her back.

    • to Jessie – I had lost my son tragically, as well. Nov.4th, 2013. He was only 22yrs old. Still a baby and the grief is overwhelming. I just cannot fathom the thought of him not with us anymore. I want so much to see him come up my driveway to our front door an say ‘ hey ma!’ I don’t understand death and hate this grief with a passion. I will forever have a deep hurt and loss in my heart. I start counseling next week and not really looking forward to it, just like everything else. To lose a child before a parent is the most difficult event in a lifetime. the pain and anguish that parent goes through is truly unbearable, but I try to just cope on a daily basis. To even start my day and getting out of bed, my thought turns to my son. I want him back home. I beg and plead for a chance to see him one more time. he is sadly missed.

      • Ingrid

        Dear Diane (and others who have lost children) I am so very sorry for your loss and your pain……my son was murdered 6 1/2 years ago…. he was 34 and had so much life to live yet……I felt as if I had imploded on the inside and been left standing to clean up all the rubble of my shattered life. Second by second, sometimes moment by moment, day by day, every emotion known and unknown was warring within me and the result was a desperation for God like I had never before known in my walk as a Christian……….as time put distance between the night my son was murdered and the present in which I was living, slowly I could breathe, I could look at pictures, cherish memories, I could let peace have its way even when the “why” was not answered……I could grieve and feel joy at the same time and not feel guilty as if I was betraying my son…the pain that attacked my whole physical being began to be less intense and less frequent….I still have grief ambushes, and I mean ambushes for which I am never prepared, but less frequently and of less duration…………it took time, and though time doesn’t heal, it is a friend to those of us who grieve…..the “firsts” are harsh and seem cruel and unbearable, but over time, while facing my grief head on, allowing grief to have its work in me, I could grasp that I am not done with my earthly task and welcome all that the Lord has for me yet to do, knowing that in every situation in my life, even in the murder of my son, the Lord remains fair and just and loving and wise…..I send these words as encouragement knowing that at this time in your journey, they may fall to the ground rather than give you grace and peace……but my experience is that when others spoke into my life, even prematurely, at some point the words became life to me and truth that helped me move forward (I didn’t move on, I moved forward, and not of myself, but of His strength and power)……may the loving hand of the Lord lift you and love you…………He is able… often of your loved one…………………..

      • angela watkins

        Dear Diane and others above, I too know exactly what you are and have been feeling each and every day since I lost my only child to CF. For 20 years I was a single parent, mother,care provider, best friend, etc… to a beautiful, smart, caring daughter. She was my whole world. But her lungs got tired and she opt out of a double lung transplant–less than 3 months later (July 18 2013) she give up.. I am so lost and lonely without her, even tho she talks to me daily and/or whenever I need her–she is here with me. Every where I go there is something that reminds me of her. Sometimes happy thoughts but always the emptiness within me is there also. If I could just find a way and place to move to–away from here (NC) I know that I could and would find peace, happiness and love within myself. I pray every day for the Lord above to come take me to Heaven

  • J

    My brother-in-law killed himself at the home of his family where they found him….they are dealing with so much guilt and grief….why didn’t they “see” it coming?
    Is there grief counseling?

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. I believe it is easier to leave than to be left; grief counseling is available, it is a real and beneficial thing. Clergy can help with recommendations or may be themselves trained for grief counseling. Likewise there are other counseling professionals, but if it were me, I’d try to find one through recommendations. Where are they located? Maybe this readership can generate a lead for them. — Dusty

    • J, yes, counseling is in every area. Look it up on the internet in your area. Or here is a website that might be helpful: I’m so sorry for the devastating tragedy.

      • Ingrid

        I totally support……………..amazing compassion, understanding and healing help……………………helped me and still does….

    • Yes there is counseling in almost every community. Call your local hospital or Dr’s offices. They can get you in touch with hospice and they are excellent. Please don’t hesitate – do this asap, as the grief will consume you if you do not talk to someone.
      Prayers are with you and your family – God bless you and keep all of you in His peace.

      • I’d echo Sandy. Please seek counseling. It helped me tremendously in my own grief process.

  • cathy

    this was a wonderful. My son (age 32)passed away suddenly on 10/23/13. Every day seems to be a challenge

    • It will feel like that for a while, Cathy. Just take every moment as it comes. Every day as it comes.

  • deena cress

    As a Hospice social worker for almost twenty years I am always looking for new resources that would be beneficial to our bereaved families. Thank You for this.

    • Thank you, Deena. I’m so glad it’s a resource you can use!

  • Dora Lee Bates

    I lost my beloved husband on Jan 11 2013 and have struggled with is loss but my sons have been here for me which has helped so very much. We had almost 57 years of marriage / Thank you for your words they helped so much I am sending them on to several that have lost their husbands this year

    • Thanks for the comment, Dora. May God comfort you as you walk through this holiday season without your husband.

  • debraaelliott1960

    Thank you so much for sharing. I lost my youngest daughter 6 months ago when she was only 27 and it’s very hard for me to move forward at times. We had five emotionally charged weeks together. I was blessed to have her for one last Mother’s Day.

    • I can’t imagine the loss of a child, and my heart grieves for you, Debra. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers during this holiday season. I’m glad my words could bring some kind of comfort to you.

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  • Fidelma McGroary

    I lost my father on March 1st, I’ll miss him everyday and will always wish that he was back with us. There’s a book Angels in my Hair by Lorna Byrne. That may be helpful to some of you if you would like to read it.

    • Thanks for sharing about the book, Fidelma. I’ve never heard of it. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve the loss of your father.

  • Jeanell

    I lost my husband September 9, 2013 after a two year battle with cancer at the age of 55. This holiday season has been more difficult then last. I think I was numb and going through the motions last year. I wish I had had this advice last year. I am finishing up my first semester of nursing school and still trying to find my new normal. Thank you for your blog. It shows that my feelings are normal.

    • I’m so glad my writing could help you in this difficult time of year, Jeanell. The holidays are hard. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Connie

    I lost my husband of 36 years on September 6,2013 from 2 strokes caused by his Afib from his chemo meds for Leukemia.I was able to spend the last 5 weeks of his life with him everyday in the hospital.We never saw this coming and I am having a very difficult time dealing with his death .The holidays are very trying how do I go on.

    • Carol, my heart goes out to you during this difficult time. Last December was so hard for me (it was the first one without my best friend). Just take every moment as it comes. One step in front of another. Seek counseling so that you’d don’t feel so alone.

  • Rose Kamrowski

    I lost my 34 year old son by suicide on June 17, 2013. Every day is a challenge. This is truly the worst pain I have ever felt in my life! I know I will never get over this loss, but, with time I will learn how to cope.

    • Rose, I’m so sorry. Suicide adds a whole new layer to grief because it was a choice to end life. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Also, you may want to check out this site that someone else shared as a good resource for suicide…

  • Chuck King

    I have lost both mother-in-law, and a father-in-law, and my own mother, In almost every one of the 15 I see myself and my wife. I can’t thank you enough for putting this into words. It has been almost 15 years since I lost my mom, and as I was reading the tears were starting allover again. Thank you for writing this.

    • Thank you for your comment, Chuck. I’m glad I could help you and your wife.

  • Thank you so much for seeing what others often times can’t see while dealing with a death…I am passing this on to my Oldest Goddaughter. On Mothers Day 2013 my baby lost hers. She held her first child as he took his last breath two hours after he took his first. I have not dealt well because a similar situation happened to me and have been of little help to her as of late. NOT ONLY HAVE YOU HELPED HER YOU HAVE HELPED ME WHICH HAS BEEN NEARLY 20 YEARS IN MAKING. God Bless you and the talent you have..

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Andrea. I’m so glad my writing could help you and your goddaughter.

  • Marsha Leen

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement. I lost my wonderful husband to brain cancer, November 27, 2013 (one year to the date your blog was posted). I cry everyday and often the grief is unbearable. Your blog is a blessing to me.

  • Rose

    While reading the words of this, I felt as though I was actually speaking directly to me. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I read further and further into each step of the healing process. I sit here now with myself, genuinely feeling the tremendous heartache I’ve recently endured; I find myself questioning if I was the person creating this horrific hole in my heart. Is this all my fault? How could this happen? Is what I’m grieving even real? Here I sit…with myself as a 30 year old strong WOMAN! Hurt, sad, angry, confused, broken hearted over the relationship I’ve always wanted…tried DAMNED HARD, just to have my father’s LOVE, APPROVAL AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT! In return of my effortless devotion to earn my Daddy’s attention, I’ve now lost my brother & sister…even worse, my niece. All because of #7…this beautifully courageous posting on how to learn to deal with my grief has taught me…I NEED HELP!

  • M

    It’s been just over 3yrs since my best friend passed away and it still feels like yesterday. Your words are so profound and touched my heart as if you were speaking directly to me. B/c of the depth of the relationship I believe the grief may never end but I’ve finding ways to deal with it is important and even more important to me is finding ways to keep his memory alive. While it may not make sense or work for others, it does for me and I think that’s what’s most important. I’m able to smile now when I hear or speak his name, but still have those moments where I cry, thinking to myself how I’ve lost that 1 person who really gets me, my soul-friend and struggle not to sink back into a depression b/c I miss him so much. So on one hand I feel blessed that I had such a beautiful friendship but on the other, I feel cheated b/c I feel such an emptiness. Crazy struggle, but I try to stay focused on the blessings, plus I believe he’s still with me, spiritually and that helps…a bit.
    Grief is so individualized and we all need to know it’s ok to feel what we feel.
    As I read this, it seemed like you were giving me a hug through your words so it’s my turn to give a hug back. Thank you and God Bless.

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  • Vicki Lunning

    My husband of 43 years passed away on October 30, 2013. He had been ill since the middle of June but had so many different things going wrong that he just couldn’t fight it anymore. I didn’t want him to be sick and in pain everyday, but I didn’t want him to die. I have a huge hole in my heart now but I am working on dealing with it. I will find a new normal again. I do have faith in that. And I have 2 wonderful children and 3 of the best grandchildren in the world. I think I cry a little everyday, sometimes it just hits me out of the blue. I walk through our home, which I just sold, and tell him how much I miss him. I also know he is watching out for me from above. Miss you Steve…

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  • Lee Ann Parks

    So glad I happened on this today. 1 year ago today my MIL went unresponsive after a 15 year struggle with Alzheimers. She passed on 1/2/13. She had been “gone” for many years but still the grief process. My younger brother was killed while on his motorcycle by an “impaired” driver” on 2/27/13. 2 days after the 3 year anniversary of my niece passing from an accidental overdose. My heart has hurt so much this year. Thank you for the 15 points. I’m facing my FIL passing any day from congestive heart failure. He has slipped into memory lapses so he is “gone” before his time as well. I was the primary caretaker for 17 years. What will my life be like now?

  • Barb

    Grief is something different for everyone, yet there are signposts in the heart, mind and soul that all share – because we are all human. This is a very good overview of grief and its steps and sharing how to at minimum get through things and feel one is not alone. Having lost several (more than 2 dozen family, and many friends in the past few decades, (young and old) it always helps to read about grief and its passages.

    I like the one poster who expresses getting through the seasons. Getting through each day, week, seasonal celebrations for the first year is the toughest. But after that a form of softening happens, never goes away, but one gets “through” it.

    In saying all that, the loss of a child no matter how old, (I believe) is the very hardest. May God (or higher power of love) help all in the grief process and know you are not alone, although it surely feels like being alone when caught in that pain.

    My own suggestion, after years of witnessing deaths of loved ones and their grief, tells me that stifling grief is the enemy of all. Do not medicate or try to avoid the first days, weeks, months of the grief suffering process. To do so, (as the author notes) is a detriment to the person. Harbouring or stifling grief is dangerous to the health and mind.

    Let it go, cry when you can, let it out when it emerges. Shoving it down only allows the grief to bury for a while, fester and emerge in many diffferent forms. Dealing with grief is an individual process, but there is support and comfort in sharing with others – allow others to help in ones suffering.

    Eventually one does get to the other side of devastating grief pain. No time clock is placed on it, but it will happen. Not to let the memory of that person go, but to heal the heart takes time. Allow it, but also know ones own life is precious and those of our family and friends left with us, are needing us too, as we need them.

    May God comfort all in losses and find a purpose to life, to give memory and worth to those who are now in heaven.

    • Dana Smith

      These were wonderful points. I lost my husband this past June to Cruetzfeldt-Jacob Disease at 45 yrs of age. We received a diagnosis on May 22, he passed on June 22. This was after noticing initial symptoms at the end of April. It’s a relentless disease, one like I have never seen before. Never heard of it until I took him to Vanderbilt hospital on that 10th of May because I knew something was very wrong. Thanksgiving and Christmas was hard and this past week he would have been 46 yrs old. We have two children, one which is 17 and the other will soon be 11. I still put the 10 yr old to bed at night in tears. It’s been really tough for him. This fall our daughter goes off to college. Last Saturday she and I went for a campus tour, something that should have included her daddy. This single parenting stinks. He is so greatly missed, and there is no way that we could have or can make it without the Lord’s help.

  • Sometimes, grief comes when things ‘built up’ have to be taken down/torn down in order to move on. Emptying my childhood home in 2.5 days was more than dificult. My mother went into assisted living, so she is not yet dead, but she is in many ways, already dead to me. Your blog is helpful. Thank you.
    C., CA

  • Kay Nash

    My husband passed away the day before Thanksgiving 2012. We were together 45 years. He was a Parkinson’s patients for 10 years but was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer October 19 and passed away November 21. Even after a year I feel him with me everyday. I know that he would want me to go on with my life so that is what I am trying very hard to do. I cannot say that I am happy, happy but I do try to find joy in each new day. I will keep this list and try to look at it often. Thank you.

  • Sharon

    Some may find this book helpful, written by a mother who lost her teenage son to suicide and 8 years later her remaining daughter to a heart attack in Thailand. Available on Amazon, Choosing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Ginny Dennehy.

  • Raffy

    Love your article “15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief”. I am giving a talk to our church about “discovering God in our miseries”…Do I have your permission to give out your article, as a resource hand out to the participants?

    • Hi Raffy, yes, you can hand it out! Just include a link to my blog and my name. Thanks!

  • Annie

    Thanks Teryn, I help with a grief group & this will be so helpful. Thanks for allowing me to share this with them.

  • Annie

    Teryn, I should have mentioned this in my 1st reply. I’ve had many losses in the last 14 yrs, I lost a son 14 yrs ago, a grandson 9 1/2 yrs ago, my younger brother 8 1/2 yrs ago, a sister in law, for 38 yrs, she died 8 yrs ago. She was also my best friend. Then
    7 1/2 yrs ago, my husband, for 41 yrs, passed away. Thank you for posting “15 things I wish I’d known about grief”. So very helpful. God has been my rock thru it all. Someone said “Grief is the price one pays for loving someone”. So I am thankful that I have loved & been loved by them.

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  • Kathie

    Robyn Ann, Saying a prayer for you today as I read this. I am asking My magnificent God to send you a godly, true friend there in your town. I know He has someone who can be your friend through all of this…I want you to open your eyes wide and watch for this person God is going to send you very soon. He is hearing this prayer and He is ALWAYS DOING! Watch. Praying!

  • Tammy

    Lost my Husband to Cancer just over three months ago. He was only 48. I now have this saved on my computer…’s fits perfectly with how I feel. Thank you.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Tammy. I’m so glad my writing can help you on the journey in some way. My thoughts and prayers are with you today.