Advice & Thoughts On Grief (From the Comments)

I’ve been compiling advice from the comments on my 15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief post that went viral last week. There was a lot of good advice, and so I’m sharing it in a condensed place here. Some things were repeated multiple times, so I tried to pick comments that summed up everyone’s advice nicely. I also edited the comments for punctuation, grammar, and clarification, but I’ve tried to keep it true to the original as much as I can. I also shared some resources that others mentioned at the end of this post.

If you feel I’ve missed something important, please comment below. And thanks again for everyone’s support. I’ve been so touched and comforted by each and every word people have shared on this blog. 



Advice & Thoughts on Grief 

I learned I couldn’t tense up in those moments [of grief]. I couldn’t resist. I had to surrender, relax and let it wash over me. It wasn’t going to cripple me. I wasn’t going to go back to that paralyzing place when the grief was so fresh. It would pass easier now, I didn’t need to be scared. ~Michelle

Someone once told me that you learn to live with “the hole.” You acknowledge it, know that it’s there, but you learn to maneuver around it and work with it so you don’t fall in. ~FYL

[Grief is] like something you trip over. You hurry into the next room to share a thought or a feeling, and there is nobody there. Or, you think to yourself, “I have to remember to tell him about this.” And you can’t. ~Donna

Even years, decades down the road, you will have moments. A smell, a food, a dream, returning to an area you once live in, pictures, music, etc., etc., will sometimes make you laugh or make you cry. Usually the crying is as brief as whatever exposure you experienced and oftentimes you can even smile through the tears, thinking yourself foolish, but not admonishing yourself. The smiles and laughs far ourweigh the tears. It doesn’t go away. It just gets easier to live with. ~Teena

My final lesson on life from my Mom was that even when you know there is nothing you can do in a certain situation, you are still doing something by just being there. Meaning acts of kindness such as moral support, a touch, sharing a tear, a listening ear, an open mind, a kind word said, a hug, a positive look…Giving is our greatest gift. And that is what she did her whole life. She gave. ~Gwen

A grief counselor told me that the second year is the hardest, because the shock and numbness are wearing off and reality is becoming more solid. I find myself more in contact with the earth and living less with the “one foot in each realm.” ~Julie

[Grief] is like learning to walk after your leg is amputated. You can do it, but you always know it’s missing. God gets us through the worst, then we have to hold onto his hand to make it the rest of the way. We have to live and laugh again. ~Carole

I have learned to discontinue having expectations from others. So many of my friends have—what I thought—let me down. But I now know that they need prayers and understanding as much as I, because they are lacking in knowing how to reach out. They don’t have a clue what to do or say. ~Linda

It took me a while to realize that NOT talking about him was most hurtful. I realized that telling MY stories brought smiles (sometimes through tears) and that the realization that others missed him and grieved too was healing and in a strange indescribable way, rewarding for all of us. Now, I know. But in the beginning, I didn’t. ~Angela

If you are to say something to comfort a friend’s grief, I found that my mother’s tactic was quite effective. When they are focusing on all they’ve lost, refocus them on all they’ve gained, even if it is something they’ve gained from their loss, such as appreciation for their lost loved one. Don’t completely change the subject, as the point is to help them get through it, but steer the subject in a more positive light. I’ve always enjoyed those moments in times of heavy grief where a memory comes back that pulls me from tears to laughter. I love to laugh and it truly is the best medicine. Try reminding a grieving friend of humorous memories of their loved one or steer something serious into something funny. ~Mozart

Nothing has ever made me feel more comforted than a hug. But sometimes you can’t always be there in person to give a grieving friend a hug, so words are needed to soothe the grief. And sometimes no words are needed, just an ear to listen as they talk through their feelings. ~Mozart

I wish I had known how exhausting the grief journey is. ~Kim

My son taught me it is not how long we live, but what we do with our lives. ~Becky

Don’t shut yourself off from those who are still living and would love to spend time with you because you are so consumed with those you DON’T still have. We are never promised a tomorrow. Those still living would like to be in your life and thoughts while they’re still alive–not just after they die. ~TheOtherDaughter

People who don’t understand grief tend to put a time constraint on it. Even though they may not say it out loud, they give the impression that they’re thinking, “Well, it’s been ____ amount of years, so it should be over by now.” But we who are grieving know that it’s impossible to put a time frame on grief. Grieving is a process unique to each individual, even within a family. I know from my experience that grief is something that has become a part of me. Grief altered who I was, but God has used it in my life in more ways than I can describe…it’s bittersweet!  ~Carrie

You and your spouse are never on the same page in your grief. You have to let each other grieve the way you need to grieve, not the same as everyone else. ~Becky H.

One thing I learned when my mother-in-law passed away in 1988 was to vent in a journal. I just started writing and putting all the pain and anger into it. When I was done it was a feeling of relief, and over the following year, I would add to it. Then after a year, I put the journal away and have never taken it out to look at. ~Dawn

Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon. ~Nancy

What I find fascinating, and sad as well, is that men seem to self-exclude themselves from these discussions. All the grief blogs I saw were written by women (except the one I started). Looking at the comments on those blogs (and this post), they were pretty much all by women. Most men are so bad about dealing with feelings, and they (we) really need to come to grips with the fact that we feel emotional pain, and that we have to find healthy ways of dealing with it. ~Pat (read a blog post of his here:

This got me thinking about how beautiful grief is. That isn’t the angle most can see, not for years. Imagine death with no grieving. What a loss. Death and loss with no pain, no memories, no wonders, no hard. My special lovely is right inside all of the hard. I honestly believe that there is happy in my tears, joy in my hard. It is all a reflection of how deeply Madeline was in my life, heart and soul. I am thankful for this journey. I want to run away often, but I need this. ~ClimbingThePolkaDotTree

It’s okay to be angry. Anger is part of the grieving process – it’s expected. People will understand if you are angry, God understands if you are angry. Just don’t stay there. Anger is a stepping stone to healing – it’s not the end result of grieving. ~Michelle

Although family is usually there for you, I have seen more times than not how selfish and more hurtful they can be when you least expect it. Sometimes a completely new “dark” side you would NEVER have thought existed comes out. ~Lori

I have learned that there is a lot of beautiful in this world. Sometimes it takes horrible tragedy for us to see the good in life, but it’s there. ~RossKruger12

I have learned that sometimes taking care of your health is more important than fulfilling all of your obligations. I’m a junior in high school and I lost my dad at the end of July, one month before the school year started. My days are always packed with homework, projects, church events, practices, extra curriculars, etc. There have been times where the stress was so great that I’ve had to skip a night of homework or miss out on a meeting, and I think that’s okay. I guess it’s a matter of priorities. ~Jess

DO NOT make any big decisions in the 1st year of your grief. If one has to be made, get help from someone you trust that will help you make the right one. I’m talking about things like selling your home, selling or getting rid of all your deceased love one’s belongings, moving to another state, or paying off all your debt with the life insurance money that’s left after the funeral to clear your deceased love one’s name, etc. When you are grieving, your state of mind is troubled, and you may do something you will really regret later. Give yourself time to mourn and allow time for your mind to come to a clearer state. ~Susan

No matter how many people tell you cheer up, move on, or life goes on, you don’t need to put on a false smile or brave face for anyone and their mindless clichés. You have the right to grieve. Be sad or angry for as long as it takes. The healing and more positive feelings will come in their own time. You can’t rush it or force it to please people who want you to move on. Happiness is not always a choice, but it comes at the right time. ~Justime

Grief never, never, never ends. And who would want it to? When you stop grieving, you stop thinking about your loved one. I don’t want that! My wife died 13 years ago. I’ve moved on and created a great family, but she (and my current wife’s deceased husband) are still a huge part of our blended family. Birthdays, death anniversaries, kids’ school activities, they are still with us and it’s healthy. I never want our grief to end. ~Mike

To be there in someone’s time of sorrow is the greatest gift you can give. ~Verna

The why’s…well, I certainly do not have the answers, but I trust the One who does. I pray with people in all kinds of situations and over issues of life and death, but I never tell anyone the why’s, because I don’t have the answers. ~Jerry

Time alone does NOT heal all wounds, regardless of what people tell you. That, my friend, is just another silly platitude. It is what you do with the time that matters. After all, if your vehicle has a flat tire, will it repair itself if you just pull up a chair and wait? No. You have to put a little work into it. Same goes for grief. Call it grief work. It’s your grief, and it’s your work that must be done. Do it. Don’t rely on time or other people to fix you. And unless you have extended, inappropriate grieving, don’t rely on drugs or booze to numb the pain. You have to work with the pain. We all survive it. It’s up to you to decide how well you’re going to survive it. You must live each day as though your life depends on it, for indeed it does. ~Moda

So many people think the pain should be numbed, but I want to feel it now, so I can grieve NOW. I am learning to take the day in chunks, live for the moment, and pray through the dark thoughts. ~Courtney

Trust that you will not die of the pain, but go through it and feel it. That’s what I wish I had known then. ~Shannon

The thing I wished I had known was people that mean to be helpful can be so hurtful when they have not experienced what you are going through, but tell you what you need to be doing and feeling. Grief takes as long as it takes, and it’s okay. You learn to take one breath at a time until you can move on and it’s OKAY. The people that don’t have time for your grief aren’t the people that you need to be around. ~Johnnie

Grief has been transformational for me. There is no hiding, no dying, no way out, no escape. It is the ultimate exposure of intimacy. It leaves you more naked than you could ever imagine. It brings to light your own mortality…
I remembered the words of my Father, “Just put one foot in front of the other, this is all you have to do.” I held on one hour at a time for a year or two.
I am no longer the person I once was – and sometimes I grieve for her (me). And yes, even after eight years I will cry… and it is OK, it puts me in touch with my feelings. Grief has brought to my door what is most important in life. It has taken away the blinders and pulled back the curtains. It has made me an honest woman. I live three days at a time now, because it keeps me focused in the present, and the present moment is the only reality there truly is.
I am ready to embrace death any time now; so, I will spend my today being who I really am, loving all my beautiful friends and family and/or doing what I most enjoy.
No one can fill your shoes or live your life but you!
You have not truly experienced life, until you have experienced death. ~Deborah

I learned to not be afraid! Afraid for myself and those closest to me! I learned to try new things and face all my fears. I once was afraid to fly, and now I am a Flight Attendant!! The possibilities to continue to live in happiness are endless! ~Sherry

Anger is a part of grief. When my stepfather died, I was shocked at myself for my primary emotion toward him, which was anger! There were things to be angry about, but one of the things I learned is that every grief we have is connected to all the other things we’ve grieved (or should have). His death opened up wounds never properly worked through.  ~Sue

The best advice I received as a young girl is this: It isn’t necessary to stress over what to say to a person who is grieving. Years ago one of my Mom’s best friends lost her only son and child to a horrible murder. When my Mom visited her, all she did was cry with her. She didn’t offer opinions, advice, etc. Later my Mom’s friend said that ministered to her more than anything else. ~Lonnie

God has been my staple. But He hasn’t been my magic wand to take the great pain away. I’m learning to walk with Him in a whole new way that I never thought I would know. Trust, trust, trust even when I felt like I was trusting with my eyes closed because I was afraid to walk forward.  ~KayAnn

It helps very much to focus hard on anything you can find to be grateful for about the person lost and life in general. Expect that sometimes others will be uncomfortable around you. …Realize that nothing will ever be the same. There is life before the loss, then time sort of stops there, and quickly slips away at the same time. Life after the loss is different for you and for others. The best you can do is take one day, and sometimes one moment at a time. Try to be okay with what you experience in that moment. Fighting it or denying it will not make it go away. During the tough parts try to remember that this is one present moment, there will be a tomorrow, a little more healing, a little more strength. ~Julie

Grief never ends, and that is okay. ~Jessica

One thing I have learned is that life is too short to worry about the small stuff. Not everyone will feel your pain or understand your loss, since our relationships are at different levels of the heart and soul. What seems impossible is possible with God, and He will get you through. I have cried, screamed, and all of the emotions I possess were thrown at God, and He has filled me with His peace and help as I needed it. Help comes in many ways through friends, family and in ways you least expect. Hang on to the memories, it is hard at first, but they will eventually give way to smiles and joys, and it is important to hold on to them in a way that honors your relationship and the loved one you lost. ~Linda

I learned that no matter how much you loved them, and how well they knew it, you will always have doubts about whether or not they really knew how deeply you loved them. 13 years later, I still wonder if my husband understood the depth of my love for him. How blessed I was to have him for a husband. And what a great father and husband he was. ~Tammy

For a long time after Jason died, my one question to others, including several therapists was, “What is the goal in the grief process?” Someone was finally able to answer that for me when he said that the goal is to accept the fact that your life will never be the same.  (The goal wasn’t to accept that he had died, or to get over it, or that it will be resolved in some way.) ~Vicki

An organization that has helped us to work through our grief is The Compassionate Friends, an organization of bereaved parents who support each other. There are chapters in most parts of Canada, The USA, Great Britain, and other countries as well. ~Jim (website:

I have learned that grief can be packaged in different ways (death, divorce, rebellious children, etc), but it is difficult nonetheless. God’s Word has been my comfort when nothing else could be. I have learned that God does not waste the hard times He allows to come into our lives. He can use us to be a comfort and encouragement to someone else down the road if we let him. ~Becky

Grief is work. I have learned that you can’t go around it, above it, underneath it – you must go through it. I realized that right away. I started out wanting to run—run anywhere just to escape it—but realized there was nowhere to go. I found my peace by knowing where my husband is now, and that we will be together again someday, and I will have my answers as to why then. God has the whole picture—the entire story—beginning to end and He does work all things for good—even when we don’t understand them. Someday we will. ~Carol

Countless people said to me, “Call me if you need to get a glass of wine, cup of coffee, or just want to talk.” I’m sure in their hearts they truly meant it, but even in my darkest of days, I couldn’t make that call. However, when someone called me and asked if I wanted to get together, I would generally be thankful for the company and accept the invitation. So pick up the phone and call that friend and be willing to listen to their pain, their need for laughter or just to vent the angry feelings. I also have gotten pretty tired of people telling me how strong I am and I will get through this. Many days I don’t want to be strong and would love for someone to take care of me for a change. ~Susan

I sat down and read Psalm 23, and the words, “I walk through the Valley of Death” hit me like a hammer:  I will walk through.  I will not sit and wallow there for the rest of my life.  Eventually the Lord will take me to the other side. ~Peggy

As illogical as it sounds, you will be angry and the loved one for dying on you.  That is normal.  Roll with it and don’t spend time feeling guilty for being mad at them.  It is a part of grieving. ~Peggy

This list applies very well to those of us with chronic illness who are grieving. The grieving process is very similar. We grieve for our “old selves” and the person’s we used to be. I can be very traumatic a difficult process to overcome. These steps are very helpful and applicable. Also, many times those with a chronic illness don’t realize they are grieving. When they recognize and accept the grieving process, they can then move forward. These steps would help with that. I understand from personal experience. ~Ron

People will say the darndest things. Don’t take it personal. Give them Grace. ~Trey (Good article on this: )

Completely surrender to God. Let Him love on you like no one can! He is your Father. He always knows how to comfort His children.
Count blessings, no matter how small! Bitterness can’t grow in a heart full of gratitude.
Listen to people’s INTENTIONS, not your PERCEPTION. The enemy will feed these words to your sensitive emotions until they become lies…which will become agreements…which will become vows!
God is faithful in all things! My questions are not “Why?” They are “When?”

Don’t forget to breath. It feels like someone’s taken your breath away, your inability to move forward when you find out, and how could others keep moving after such horrible news. It will never be the same, yes, but life does go on, one breath at a time, one foot in front of another. ~Candice

Grief never ends,
But it changes.

It’s a passage,
Not a place to stay.

The sense of loss
Must give way,
If we are to value
The life that was lived.

Grief is not a sign of weakness,
Nor lack of faith.
It is the price of love.
~Author Unknown


Other Resources

Websites: (Authors of The Grief Recovery Handbook) (Parents who have lost children) (You can find grief groups in your area) (Coping with suicide) – Website/book on losing a spouse.

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
The Grief Recovery Handbook
Disappointment With God
  or Where Is God When it Hurts? by Phillip Yancey (Not necessarily a grieving book, but it is about the pain of life. Books by Phillip Yancey are really good.)

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  • There are no time tables on grief. Just when you thought the crying or,online sis had past, it starts all over again. Be gentle with yourself. Give time, time, and know your loss will always be a part of who you are.
    Sensitive people understand your grief, don’t bottle it in. Talk to a friend or relative who will be the wind beneath your wings!

  • Connii

    Taryn you are an angel! This write up is all it’s about and well said!!!!! Thank you for getting me thru the holidays!!! Or just this day, thank you!!!!

    • I’m so glad this can help you out, Connii! Praying for comfort and peace in midst of the holidays for you.

  • Richard VanHyfte

    If you have the strength, you can help others through their grief. Just being there for them may be enough. Read through the blog and comments because they are so good. If you have lost a child, attend a Compassionate Friends meeting. It is good for you, and for others. Avoid comments like “I know they are in a better place” or “I know what you are going through”. They mostly need someone to listen. Give advice if asked.

    • Yes, listening and just being there is so important. Thanks for the comment, Richard.

  • Thank you for sharing so many others experiences… angles and what they know now… it was helpful to read… very helpful

    • Yes, I’ve loved hearing from so many others who’ve walked this road of grief.

  • Heather

    I have had more loss in my life than most at age 27. But the last 3 years have been the hardest. December 1st, 2010 my life changed forever when I lost my best friend to suicide. & then January 25th, 2011 I lost my very good friend in Afghanistan. Your blogs on grief are amazing and I wish I had them when I was in the depths of my darkest grief days. Thank you for what you do and helping others!

    • I’m so glad this could help you, Heather. My best friend either committed suicide or was murdered (trial is next year), and it adds a whole other layer to grief. I pray you will continue to find comfort and peace even in the midst of all this sorrow.

  • Teryn pls don’t print what I wrote today. I am starting over with a lost family and would hate to lose them again.
    Nothing can ever bring my sister back, I can simply enjoy her sons and their families.

  • Thanks so much for including my comment and the link to my blog. I really appreciate it.

    You’ll be hearing from me via Twitter DM soon about a guest post. Thanks again.

  • Diana

    I lost my father August 2007. The evening before my birthday. Myself, my daughter and my grandson were on our long drive there to see him. He passed in his sleep of a heart attack. Then October 2007, I lost my step-father from throat cancer. My mother had physical conditions that she relied on him. I then lost my mother January 2011. She had gotten sick, my sister called me to tell me she wold not go to the hospital. I talked with my mother and talked her into going. I traveled 1000 miles to get to her and she really perked up. I was there a week and was deciding if I should go home early due to snow or wait. She got her mess that morning and was getting released. I took a shower and within 5 min of the nurse leaving and me getting out of the shower she passed.

    I did everything for my mother no matter how far apart we were. We are both two peas in a pod. I have not been the same since. My health is deteriorating and physical things has been happening since the death of my father. I do just what I have to, I have gained so much weight that I am now morbidly obese. I can not seem to get out of this hole. I am on pain management to get through the days due the physical issues and on 2 different meds for depression and anxiety.

    I am afraid this has gone on so long that I can not get out. I am going to try to look at your site each and every day. Thanks for this information.

    • So sad for you, Diana. Have you considered going to counseling? Depression meds, etc., can help–but often there’s emotional roots to things, too, that really need to be worked out. I myself had to go to counseling, and it was such an amazing decision. We weren’t made to do it all alone. Sometimes, we need a different perspective and someone to listen to us and help us process.

    • Sue

      I am praying for you….across the miles and across the two week time span since you wrote this, but God hears in the present and He knows what you are feeling. I pray you can rest in Him and seek out His words for comfort. Hold on and seek out someone who will let you pour out your grief on their kind, loving, supportive shoulders. Someone is out there, ready to listen, ready to be present with you in your pain. God bless and comfort you, Diana.

  • juanita

    I love all the responses on grief .but I continue to blame myself for my moms passing .what I could have done or should have done ! Don’t let them do colon surgery just 2 wks after open heart surgery! no don’t do it she has a cold !then no don’t move her to i thought was rehab but was hospice I should have stood up and told my siblings no no and no!! But I didn’t !!I let her down I didn’t protect her!!! Some of us grieve because we feel somehow that its our fault ! She may still be with me had I opened my mouth ! Blaming myself still after 5 yrs

    • Oh Juanita, do not blame yourself for your mother’s death. I’d encourage you to go to counseling if you are still overwhelmed with guilt after 5 years. There are ways to process that guilt and let go of those burdens. I don’t think your mother would want you to beat yourself up. She’d want you to live a full life. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Sue

      I am praying for you, too, Juanita. Your words brought pain to my heart because I could feel your pain, confusion, and guilt in them. I hope you can find comfort and peace with what happened….and realize that God is in control of all things and that it is not your fault. Be kind and forgiving to yourself and others. God bless you.

  • is one site that all of this is discussed. GriefShare also has a list of organizations the conduct group meetings using their information. The meetings consist of a 45 minute video and discussion. There are 13 videos. All of the 15 points you listed are covered and more. I have found that this has greatly help me and my son deal with the death of my wife and his mother. Thank you for listing these points that your have learned. God bless.

    • I will add that to the list in this post. Thanks for sharing this helpful information, Jerry.

  • Jacki H

    Tomorrow will be two years since I lost my dad. He was diagnosed with Cancer on 10/5/2011 and died two months to the day on 12/5/2011. He and I were so very close. He was truly my best friend, he loved me unconditiomally no matter what I have done in my life. He appreciated all of the good things I do. I could talk to him about anything and everything. Although I am now 52 years old… (My dad was 72 when he passed away), I was not ready or prepared AT ALL for him leaving me. I can’t hardly mention his name without crying, I keep thinking things will get easier, but I am still grieving so much for him. His favorite meal was breakfast and whenever I make a big breakfast feast I think of him and how much he would have enjoyed it. I can’t make it through a holiday without crying. I feel so guilty for having gone to the lake every weekend for the last few years, but especially my dad’s last summer… all I can think about is how I “wasted” time I could have spent with him. Then I am struggling with my mom who is in poor health, our relationship has never been good (we are like oil & water) – I am way more like my dad was… I am the ONLY one around to try to help take care of my mom who can be down right mean about things. As like the other day… she just tells me “you think too much”… meanwhile everyone at the Thanksgiving table said they could tell how mean she was being toward me, but when I asked if she was angry at me (AGAIN) for something… that was the response I got. When it comes to my dad… she tells me it’s time to “get over it”…Sometimes I just feel like life just isn’t as worth living anymore… I don’t know what normal is anymore… I don’t know how to feel truly happy anymore. Thanks for letting me vent. Jacki

    • Cait F

      I highly recommend counseling. It has been very effective for me during several different situations when I didn’t feel I had anyone close enough to talk to (or trust with the amount of darkness and anger I felt). Many counselors are very generous if money is an issue.
      I have a difficult mother as well. My counselor taught me some coping strategies that have made being around her much easier. Namely, the one where I make myself realize that her love is imperfect and clouded by her own anger, etc. She can’t love me the way a mother should love her child. Instead of being hurt by her, I pity her inability to cope with her own pain and think about how the world will be when it is renewed by God. Please note, this has taken some years, but has been worth all of the struggle.

    • Yes, I echo Cait. Counseling is really helpful in situations like these.

  • jean

    It felt endless & I lost my family in the grieving process.I found strength & good friends & a greater way to deal with it.13 years later I still grieve badly for the month of December but I find I laugh guilt free.My dad is & always be my rock..

    • Thanks for the comment, Jean. I’m glad you are able to laugh now even though it’s still hard.

  • Cait F

    After an intense breakup, a friend gave me the book “How to Survive the Loss of a Love.” It contained many of the advice/ descriptions in this blog, but was nice to have in a physical form so that I could write in the margins. It helped me to understand the grieving process and sit with the pain in a healthy way. Thankfully, you only have to read one short page each day, so it is not a major task to read. You can also pace yourself in it- there’s no need to conform to a schedule. I liked that it was suggestive, not definite, with sentences like, “You may be experiencing…”

    • Yes, breaking up/divorce/etc. is definitely a grieving process much like grieving death. I’ve been there, done that (break up/ broken heart), and it is a painful thing to walk through. Thanks for the recommendation of this book.

  • Your blog post and then these comments definitely speak to my own experience with grief, first in losing my 46 year old mom when I was a teen, and then losing my 12 yr old son in a freak accident. Thank you for being open about what grief is. That’s what I try to do on my blog as well, in the hopes that we can all support one another through the losses of life.

    • Anna, I’ve actually read your blog! In fact, the publishing company I work for is the one publishing your book. I remember reading some of the sample chapters in proposal and tearing up because your writing was both beautiful and heartbreaking. I know what that feels like. Can’t wait to read the completed copy. I’m so honored you stopped by my blog. Maybe we’ll meet each other some day, if you ever come to the office. Thanks for your comment, and my prayers are with you.

  • Todd

    I was gifted a link to your blog tonight. It seems surreal in that I can identify with every single thought and feeling shared. I have felt isolated, but curiously overwhelmed at the outpouring of the “call me if you need anything”s…..I want to talk, but just unable to reach out because I can’t fanthom that anyone else could possibly relate to my pain.

    I am relatively young and lost all 4 of my parents (they remarried) within a year, leaving me to define my path in life and to galvanize my understanding of loss and appreciation. I retired early from a structure fire department after fixing all the horrendous things people do to each other and themselves. I am now a Battalion Chief in a wildland agency and have participated as Honor Guard in 17 funerals and 3 memorials for my Brothers and Sisters in this year alone. I have worked hard to provide a safe and protective environment in assisting so many others to start their healing process, and now it happened to me. I lost one of my employees 2 months ago on a fire….and I was the last one to hear his voice on the radio. His wife was approaching her due date and was being transported to the hospital when the fatality occurred. He missed the birth of his new daughter by mere days…. And then last week we celebrated my Grandmothers long and joyous life as she left this realm that we all share.

    This blog has shown me that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings, even here in the remote mountains in which I work and live. Scared, yes as my mind now wonders who is next as I prepare my folks for the next firefight. I now realize many unanswered questions will remain, and that it is OK. I know the tears shall someday turn to laughter. I am now blessed with the return of the gift which I have given so freely, and it is normal to cry at night….. and tomorrow really does come.

    Many thanks Teryn and to all that have contributed, you will all be in my thoughts and prayers…Blessings-

  • I have learned not to say, “I’m going to do…” My husband and I had planned all these things we were going to do in retirement, and then he died suddenly. My picture of the future shattered into a million pieces and I’m facing retirement alone, having to paint a completely new picture. I no longer say, “I’m going to do.” I just do.

    • No 5 year plans here for me either… one day at a time with a lot of “I love you’s” thanks for sharing, Shelly… I hafta say: in my imagination I got a chuckle out of your “no nonsense” resolve: “I just do”. It took me a few years after my wife’s passing to learn that…

  • Laverna

    Being Very Mad at Everyone came first then came Self Distruction …then it was the Heart Break and then came the Loneliness…and then after came the Understanding and Acceptance of not being able to Change the Evolution of Life I can Accept the Fact that I Will Someday be with My Love Ones Once Again When It Is Time For Me…until then..May God Grant Me The Stength To Carry Forward…..

  • I have no advice for grief; it’s a disease with no remedy that may/may not fade on its own.

  • I always liken real loss to a gaping wound… it hurts like hell, you’re just sure it will never stop hurting… but eventually it forms a scab, sore to the touch, but not as raw and painful. Then, at some point the scab gets ripped off and all that pain floods back. But with each healing it gets smaller and smaller and the pain gets a little less and a little less…but the difference is, this never fully heals, but it gets manageable and you can “live” with it.

  • Ken

    What a wonderful place to surround ones self during times of grief and personal loss!

    Thank you for sharing this blog of encouragement to help us cope during what lies ahead for each of us as we get older! Ken & Caryl Henry

  • How do u deal with the grief when the husband of 27+years and counting sends u a text msg telling u he is leaving u. Lost my home he took all the money., he left everything behind! Told me to sell everything and take care . It has been a year now and we can’t find him. What do u call that DEATH OF A MARRIAGE

    • Sue

      Yes, you are right–you are grieving the death of a marriage…and also the death of a dream–what you thought your life was going to be like in the years ahead. Very difficult things to handle. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as you work to come to terms with the reality of a life you did not wish for and was not at all expecting. May God bless and comfort you.

      • Great response Sue… I myself, have often referred to divorce as the “death of a relationship” The Grief of divorce is Very similar to that of death… however death is permanent… where as divorce always has that hope of closure. No matter how many years down the road… Unoe may one day get to understand his behavior and maybe even one day forgive him face to face. If she chooses to..

  • Thank you for your blog and your ideas. Your thoughts are insightful and healing.

    We lost our six year old Ellie almost two years ago. I have found writing to be very helpful. Check out for some things I’ve learned walking through the valley of grief.

    God Bless You!

    • Thanks for sharing this resource, Todd. I’ll add it to the list of resources.

  • Tracy

    I have learned that even the best meaning words by someone can hurt even more because loss & grief is a very selfish time & feeling. I don’t want to hear that you know how I feel because you lost someone. I don’t think your grief is any less than mine, but this grief is mine, & my relationship with my loved one was special in my eyes. Saying you know how I feel seems like you are putting a generic label on it. Of course, I have never said this to anyone. It is just how I feel.

    • Yes, sometimes even the best-meaning words are simply not enough to fix the hole inside. I guess we as grievers must realize that no one will say something (or do something) that will fix us or the situation. Nothing can. We just have to give grace to others who try and reach out.

    • You are so absolutely right!!!… no one will ever know your own pain… for those of us who grieve and have grieved, it is a sense of bonding which brings us each to a place of supporting each others sorrow, sharing in a similar affliction, easily having compassion one for another… Thank you so much for sharing your insights…I so appreciate you…

  • I wish to commend you with this magnificent article! I was a victim to grief in several ways this past 22 years that I was literally thinking I was going to die myself… 22 years ago my daughter Jessica was murdered brutally. She, a 15 year old, honor roll student cheerleader was abducted , raped and left to die. It wasn’t until 2007 did the assailant was apprehended . 3 years later my Mother grieved to the point of becoming increasingly ill, she died from cancer, I became addicted to drugs attempting to numb my grief for almost 10 years. I became involved in a love relationship that after 5 years, he committed suicide in my home i had loved him very much . I obtained professional help to rid myself of the drug addiction. With success, believing I was better equipped to be in another relationship I fell in love with another man for 4 years , he had a stroke and also died in my home.. GRIEF seemed to be haunting me…3 years later I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, of course believing I was cursed to die myself, or God was punishing me I again become deeply depressed….the murder of my daughter consumed all of my being.. I had a good job, another wonderful daughter and great family& friends.. But I shut them all out.. As my Dr. told the type of all drugs I could have chosen this was the worse. I had never done drugs and somewhere along the way in my uncaring of wanting to live I was introduced to heroin. And it took all my pain away!! I Thought!! What a ridiculous assumption.. In the meantime , I had discarded my other daughter and 3 grandchildren, whom i loved and love deeply to this day.. i thought i had to stay away so i wouldn’t be hurt if i wasn’t as close to them, God forbid, if anything would happen to them. I tried to guard my heart.. by not being able to feel..then I became diagnosed with terminal emphysema, bound to a wheelchair and on oxygen 24 hours a day.. I almost welcomed the diagnosis, I was going to die too. What a relief to this miserable life.. However, with several rehab. Facilities and good treatment I have been clean and sober for almost 10 years. My Dr. referred me to a hospital procedures hat was fairly new, Lung Volume Reduction surgery and it took a year before and a year after, I am able to do and live off oxygen with no death date..
    To sum this up, there’s 2 things I truly learned – 1st “the murderer took my daughters life so I had to keep him from letting it take mine too,( unfortunately , it took me a lot of hard times, heartaches and horrible actions to achieve this the wrong way.). Lesson 2- would have been to have had this 15 things list to refer to !!!! After 17 years , Jessica’s murdered was caught , trailed and sentenced to life in prison… With my surgery, great family , friends and strangers who truly cared I can say I have found peace , acceptance and true serenity with my old companion “Grief” !! The real relief was sent to me from our heaven above. The Love of God and the hope and faith I prayed for everyday with thanks to Him everyday!!!
    Your article was sent to me by Him through you.. Thank you !!’

    • :) thank you for sharing… you have totally blessed me today!

    • Cookie Torres Armendarez

      I felt every word of this entry. I am certain your journey is God breathed. I needed to read this. Thank you for putting your pain into words. May God continue to grow in you for others to see His restoring power!!! Wow! Glory be to God.

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  • Kath Sherriff

    Fifteen years ago I lost my 2 year old son to brain cancer. I have felt anger, cried buckets and asked”why?” a million times but there are no answers. With time I have learnt to smile with my wonderful memories. He taught me courage and to pick myself up and face the world when I am down. With time, I have been able to smile more and we talk about him often! ! It all helps in the healing process.

  • Julie

    I lost my son, my only child, to a heart attack at the age of 29 a little over a year ago. There are a couple of important things I’ve discovered. First, I found that I could choose to focus on my loss, or my blessings, but it was my choice. I choose to try to focus on my blessings, that I had my son in my life for 29 years, that I was able to see the man he became, be blessed with the presence of his wife in my life, and my two wonderful granddaughters. Some days I get stuck in the loss, but then I start counting my blessings, and am usually able to change my focus. Second, try to journal the first year. In about June or July of this year it was like I woke up, or walked out of a fog. I don’t remember last Thanksgiving, or much about Christmas, I have very few memories of the months following Marc’s death. I wish I would have written down what was going on.

  • Toni Harrington-Listerman

    On March 18, 2001 we lost Mom to complications of breast cancer. Our grief was still raw and fresh when we lost Dad on December 11, 2003. It has been 11 years and today I found one of my Dad’s favorite movies on DVD. I bought it because it brought back great memories. I cried all the way home because I miss him so very much…

  • Michele

    In all the comments, I missed it if anyone said this – forgive me if I am redundant. Be so very gentle with yourself. Your mind and your heart have been shocked, and they won’t work the way they used to for a while. Your thinking may seem slow, your reaction time even slower, and the smallest things may exhaust you, the smallest choices seem impossible. You may feel okay for a while, then return to the “molasses” state. It’s normal, and it’s okay, and it will, slowly, pass. During this time, be so very gentle and patient with yourself, don’t commit to deadlines or new projects, let people know that you will do what you can, when you can, but they must realize that you’re a bit more fragile and a lot less reliable than usual.

  • Lynda

    Many years after the death of my husband, an ordained minister, I had a “Christian” male tell me that I just needed to get over it (his exact words). To this day, this male is supposed to be a caring person in the church. I have a different opinion of him. His rude, and uncaring statement still rings in my ears every time I see him ministering to someone. When we don’t know what to say…………it is better to be silent. Silence is golden at times.

  • There were two profound things that I learned possibly more will come to me as I’m writing. My first curious question to you, Ms. O’Brien before I begin; the 15 things you wished you knew, that you learned, was there a specific order in which you learned each one. A bit of History, my wife passed on 13 yrs ago leaving me with 3 beautiful daughters who were 11,13 and 15 1/2 at the time. I am now 53 and still single.

    1) Regarding the healing process: After becoming quite angry with God, because I had expected my wife to be healed. I came to my “Senses”, when I heard someone say regarding circumstances in life “that God caused it or He allowed it to happen”… ” your job is to find out why/what can you learn from it, while you continue moving forward whether or not you ever do discover why.”
    2) For the first year or so: Every week at church or a family event it never failed, people would come up to me, (they not really knowing what to say) would say some silly, stupid things, and I’d smile and be polite, yet always feeling uncomfortable because I couldn’t articulate how it made me feel… 18 months later I had taken my daughter to the dentist and while sitting in the outer room I picked up a mag that caught my eye. “The grieving journal of a freelance writer… the one thing I got from the article was exactly what I was feeling and couldn’t articulate. Those in my life, both family and friends were not allowing me to forget!!! Not allowing me to move on…nor allowing my children to move on… The questions and comments were always about the past in one form or another… The writer mentioned how she had changed all of her friends and didn’t hang out much with her spouse’s side of the family. Thats exactly what happened to me, I changed friends, backed away from her family and I even found a new church to go to.
    3) From a Christian perspective… I’ve learned its ok to get angry at God but its not ok to remain angry: Romans 8:28… “All things work together for the good to those who love God.” If we don’t love God through our grief, its not easy for Him to comfort us as in 2Cor 1:3-7…but He is certainly patient with us…
    4) Grief within each person is as different as our fingerprints… there is no wrong way Grieve… However there is a great difference between the grief process and one’s selfishness or immaturity… Yet I am a different person because of my grief and the hard lessons I learned by way of my immaturity and selfishness.
    5) My Dad past away last night…”Grief rehashes Grief”: Once again, in the quietness of my heart I’ve had to unlock a chamber to say good bye to one so near to me…My name sake!!! For years in my growth, my maturity, I’ve discarded the anger. Replacing the past with daily forgiveness and compassion which has brought upon me this day, a flood, so deep, of Love drowning in memories… of days lost, of days captured, of days gone by… Yet as the chamber of grief is re-opened I can not contain that which was once locked away. From my own perspective “Grief upon Grief” has brought me to the place of comforting others easily with the comfort with which I was comforted (2corinth 1:3-7)… “Grief upon Grief” has become for me “Compassion upon Compassion” and each time the chamber of Grief that is hidden within my heart is opened, like a flood, the more love and grace abounds toward others.
    6) I’ll make this my last: (so much for just two :)… Your Grief is not your own! Others are grieving as well. Within the family dynamic and only speaking from my own perspective. Grief should be shared/discussed openly with children and teens, deliberately at certain times. Grief will lead each one down through the valley of the shadow of death. If we remain in the shadow and our decisions go dark, they effect others negatively… if we walk in the Light and our decisions are based on godly choices, He is faithful to see us through. What I’m saying is, when I got angry at God along with other poor choices I made while grieving, my three daughters were effected, they also got angry as well. My Grief was of a poor example… When I asked God to forgive me, I thought all would return to normal not realizing that my daughters were still angry. When I returned to church, they didn’t… It was several years before they did…
    Thank you for all you do for the community. Thank you for sharing.
    Warm regards, much love in Christ Jesus,
    francis mcgovern

  • Jenny K.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your journey. I wish someone had explained to me how nothing at all would make sense in the first few hours, days, weeks. I was completely unable to pick out clothes for the funeral. What should I wear? “Pants”, “sweater”, “skirt” didn’t even make any sense. He’s dead. Who cares what I wear? Why am I doing this? I knew I should eat, but I had no idea what. I couldn’t even remember which foods I liked. Who is speaking to me now? Should I comfort him or let him comfort me? What is happening? I wish someone had told me that is perfectly normal, because next panic set in. “Am I losing my mind? What’s WRONG with me?” Nothing was wrong, of course, as we all know now. Disorientation is normal and understandable. Luckily I DID get one good piece of advice – Allow yourself to grieve. Any time I felt imbalanced, I just assumed “Ok, this is probably grief. I’m supposed to let this happen,” so I did. It calmed the panic and helped me be patient with myself. It helped me to understand grief is a natural process of indeterminate length, like childbirth, like a wound healing over, like falling in love.

  • James D.

    So glad to have found this. For me, it has been a particularly difficult time. For 43 years since my father’s death it was just me and my mother – no siblings, completely unsuccessful dating life, no other family physically or emotionally close. When I lost her last year I lost my world. I have never felt so completely alone, and have pretty much given up hope that I will ever have that level of closeness again. Perhaps I am wrong, and I hope I am.

    Most people do not provide much support. They only want to know what I am going to do now. Am I going to sell the house?That sort of thing. Telling me she is in a better place does not make me feel better – it only makes me long to be there with her. Telling me to remember the good things only makes me miss her more and feel I will never have them again.

    I think that the longer you have somebody, the more you feel it when they are gone, especially when you have nobody else around you with any shared history that you can turn to.

    Meanwhile, I can only keep reminding myself of the words of wisdom my mother always gave others at a time like this: “You never get over it, but you will get used to it.”

  • Pamela Hazelwood

    I have lost my Mother then my Father 3 months later. I lost a Brother a year later then another Brother 7 months later. All of those deaths were very hard for me! But 3 years ago on Halloween night I lost my 25 year old son. He was in a car wreck. That death to me was so painful I didn’t think I could go on. I wasn’t positive he was going to Heaven like all the others I lost. That made it more heartbreaking for me and he was my baby boy! I writing this through tears now. My Mother in law died last year and it goes on and on. I appreciate your posts. They are helpful. I was bad about the one on taking care of yourself and now when I look in the mirror I think WTH! I’m working hard to go on. I take one day at a time and am just amazed at God’s blessing!

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  • tania

    When I was in my darkest hour… and reeling from profound loss… my mother told me something that has always stuck with me. She said simply… “sometimes God brings us to our knees so we remember to look up.” That simple statement has made all the world!

  • Kathy

    Thank you for your article! My husband (43 years) entered Heaven 9 weeks ago. Reading books has helped me grieve. Only one has been about grief. Two days ago I was wishing I could “feel” closer to my husband, because Heaven seems so far away. I asked God to show me something special. As I pondered my request, I thought maybe God would make a big white “A” in the sky because my husband’s name begins with “A”, but when I looked up I saw a beautiful dove formation of clouds. This was the perfect symbol for me, reminding me that my husband’s death was peaceful. My future seems brighter now even though the grief journey has only just begun. I hope others will ask God for something special. Even if you don’t “see” something quickly, keep pondering what it might be, and be watchful.

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