64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in 64 Things, Blog, Grief Makes You Crazy | 221 Comments

64 things i wish 2

We think about grief a lot around here – we write about types of grief, grief theory, personal reflections, creative expression for coping with grief, practical ideas for managing grief, and on and on and on.  But there are some days that all seems like a lot to take in.  We think back to the basics.  Not the theory stuff, not the ideas about how to cope — just the really basic things that people never tell you about grief.  So, with your help, that is what we have today — a quick and dirty list of the things we wish we had known about grief, before we knew anything about grief.  If it’s in quotes, it is something one of our fabulous readers shared with us on twitter or facebook.  If you finish this post and you’re annoyed about all the things we forgot, leave a comment to keep the list going.

I wish someone had told me . . .

  1. No matter how prepared you think you are for a death, you can never be fully prepared for the loss and the grief.
  2. You can plan for death, but death does not always comply with our wishes or plans.
  3. “Stop avoiding and be present”.
  4. “Dying is not like you see on TV or in the movies.  It is not peaceful or prepared.  You may not have a spiritual or meaningful moment . . . It’s too real”.
  5. A hospital death is not always a bad death.
  6. A home death/hospice death is not always a good death.
  7. “There will be pressure from others to move on, even minutes or hours after a death, and this can lead to regrets”.
  8. “Death is not an emergency – there is always time to step back and take a moment to say goodbye”
  9. Death and grief make people uncomfortable, so be prepared for awkward encounters.
  10. You will plan the funeral while in a haze.  If you aren’t happy with the funeral you had, have another memorial service later.
  11. When people offer support, take them up on it.
  12. People will bring you food because they don’t know what else to do.  Don’t feel bad throwing it away.
  13. People will say stupid, hurtful things without even realizing it.
  14. People will tell you things that aren’t true about your grief.
  15. Death brings out the best and the worst in families, so be prepared.
  16. There is no such thing as closure.
  17. There is no timeline for grieving.  You can’t rush it.  You will grieve, in some form, forever.
  18. “There will always be regrets.  No matter how much time you had, you’ll always want more”.
  19. Guilt is a normal part of grief.
  20. Anger is normal part of grief.
  21. “The pain of a loss is a reflection of love, but you never regret loving as hard as you can”.
  22. Grief can make you question your faith.
  23. Grief doesn’t come in 5 neat stages.  Grief is messy and confusing”.
  24. Grief makes you feel like you are going crazy.
  25. Grief can make you question your life, your purpose, and your goals.  And that isn’t always a bad thing.
  26. We all grieve differently, which can create strain and confusion between family members and friends.
  27.  “However badly you think it is going to hurt, it is going to be a million times worse”.
  28.  You may find comfort in very unexpected places.
  29. “You should go somewhere to debrief after care giving”.
  30.  “The last 24 hours of their lives will replay in your mind”.
  31. Trying to protect children from death and the emotions of grief isn’t helpful.
  32. “It’s sometimes necessary to seek out new ways to grieve on your own, find new guidance, if the people who are supposed to be supportive simply haven’t learned how”.
  33.  “You grieve your past, present, and future with that person”.
  34. Big life events and milestones will forever be bittersweet.
  35. Grief triggers are everywhere – you will see things that remind you of your loved one all over the place, and it may lead to sudden outbursts of emotion.
  36. “You lose yourself, your identity, meaning, purpose, values, your trust”.
  37. Holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays will be hard forever.
  38. People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel and how you should and shouldn’t grieve.  Ignore them.
  39. “The grief process is about not only mourning the loss, but getting to know yourself as a different person”.
  40. There is no normal when it comes to grieving.
  41. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.
  42. “It is normal to feel numb after it happens.  The tears will come. They come in waves”.
  43. Grief can make you feel selfish and entitled, and that’s okay (at least for a while).
  44. Meeting new people, who never knew the person who died, can be hard and sad.  But eventually it can be nice to “introduce” them through stories and photographs.
  45. The practice of sending thank you notes after a funeral is a cruel and unusual tradition.
  46. “People love to judge how you are doing.  Watch out for those people”.
  47. You can’t compare grief or compare losses, though people will try.
  48. Any loss you grieve is a valid loss, though people will sometimes make you feel otherwise.
  49. “Just because you feel pretty good one day it doesn’t mean you are cured of your grief”.
  50. There are many days when you will feel totally and completely alone, whether you are or not.
  51. Grief can make you do stupid, crazy things.  They may be what you need at the time time, but you may regret them later.  Cut yourself some slack.
  52. Grief can make you a stronger person than you were before.
  53. Grief counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy or weak.
  54. It is okay to cry sometimes.
  55. It is okay NOT to cry sometimes.
  56. “Time does NOT heal all wounds”.
  57. “Grief re-writes your address book”. Sometimes the people you think will be there for you are not.  People you never expect become your biggest supporters.
  58. “You don’t get over it, you just get used to it”.
  59. It is okay to tell people when they are not being helpful.
  60. Watch your drinking– alcohol can quickly become an unhealthy friend.
  61. You will have to face your emotions eventually – you can avoid them for a while, but they will catch up with you in the end.
  62. Talking isn’t the only way to express and process emotions.
  63. You will never go back to being your “old self”.  Grief changes you and you are never the same.
  64. Nothing you do in the future will change your love for the person who died.  Eventually you will begin to enjoy life again, date again, have another child, seek new experiences, or whatever.  None of these thing will diminish your love for the person you lost.

What do you wish someone had told you about grief that we left off the list??  Leave a comment to keep the list going. 

221 Comments

  1. Tracy
    October 7, 2013

    Grief drives home the reality that death knocks on your door, it just doesn’t happen to ” other people” or on TV. It’s real & finite to you & those you love most.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 7, 2013

      That is so true- death and grief so often seem these abstract concepts until they touch you and those you love.

      Reply
      • melody wronkow
        December 4, 2013

        Even when you are half insane from grief , bills still need to be paid. On Time. Sounds like a no-brainer? At the time it struck me as odd – don´t “they” know I lost my child? That I walk out the door like a zombie with two different shoes on and talk out loud to my daughter in the street? That´s a mighty humbling lesson – the world goes on and your broken heart is one of millions and milions and millions and is just that – your own private broken heart. Felt like I swallowed a hand grenade but still had to balance the checkbook.

        Reply
        • CherylAnn
          December 5, 2013

          ((((Melody)))

          Reply
        • Karla McGill
          December 31, 2013

          Glad to see someone who feels like I felt. Thanks for sharing.

          Reply
        • Meg
          January 23, 2014

          I know how you feel…and you posted this comment on my angel in heavens 2nd birthday :)

          Reply
        • Petal
          February 7, 2014

          Melody, thank you for that description (about the hand grenade) – very true.

          I am so lucky to have SUCH a great car insurance company and agent. She phones me EVERY month to take my autopayment – just so I won’t forget. Isn\t that great?

          For people whom the concept of grief and death are STILL abstracts – it is a rare individual amongst them that knows how to show true compassion.
          xo

          Reply
    • Janna
      November 18, 2013

      Tracy, So, so true! That was one of the worst parts of my grief. It’s real and so final. And it WILL happen again. The thought of that is almost too much to bear at times. I lost my dad this year and he was the first person who I loved with all my heart to go. The thought of my mom or sisters… I can’t even think about it.

      Reply
      • Linda
        November 27, 2013

        Hi Janna
        I lost my brother (my only sibling) and I worry about having enough energy to do for my parents when they need help in the coming years, and losing them eventually. Know what u mean.

        Reply
  2. Becky Livingston
    October 7, 2013

    What a wonderful list. Thank you for bringing all these truths together – I shall share on my Joyful Mourning page.
    Becky Livingston recently posted…Rachel’s AshesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 7, 2013

      Thanks for sharing, Becky!

      Reply
  3. The Grandpa who ruined Christmas
    October 7, 2013

    Grief does not only happen when someone dies. The same kind of grief can also be felt when a family member will no longer associate with you.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 7, 2013

      Absolutely- this kind of loss can be so hard because other people don’t always acknowledge just how devastating it can be, since it isn’t a death. If you click on #48 about ‘valid losses” it will take you to a post about disenfranchised grief that you may find useful.

      Reply
    • michele
      November 14, 2013

      This is so true and so important. its a different type of loss death grief

      Reply
    • Rivkah
      January 9, 2014

      So very true. I have a daughter who cut off all contact with me ten years ago this month. No one knows why, her dad doesn’t know, we have never been able to understand. I was and am a good mom; no drinking or drug addictions, very involved and stayed home with my kids. We had a wonderful, wholesome life. I have have another daughter who has never shunned me and through her, I now have two beautiful grandsons. My estranged daughter is having a baby next month, whom I may never see. I have sometimes had thoughts that if she had died, it might have been easier in the long run. No offense to those who have lost a child, that is a pain I can not begin to imagine. These are just the ramblings of my mind……

      Reply
      • Petal
        February 7, 2014

        Rivkah, your feelings are very valid, not ramblings at all. I understand.

        Reply
      • Kathy
        April 9, 2014

        You know…when someone has disassociated with you thru upset or unknown…divorce or otherwise…I think it can be a little worse because you are being rejected. That is hard to deal with alone. When you lose someone to death, they didn’t leave because they wanted to. My husband, during his illness said to me, “Kathy, I don’t want to leave you alone anymore than I want to die.” He just didn’t have control. And watching his process made me realize how very little control we have when our time comes.

        Reply
  4. Jennifer Simpson
    October 7, 2013

    It’s okay to laugh (I always think about the Mary Tyler Moore episode when Chuckles the Clown dies) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihLJrcS8lsg
    Jennifer Simpson recently posted…What is grief?My Profile

    Reply
  5. Amy Kelsch
    October 7, 2013

    Thank you for this beautiful list. So much thought put into it. I recently became very ill and lost the ability to work, a job that I really enjoyed because it brought me great purpose (working as a physician). Since the loss of my physical ability to work, I have dealt with some form of grief. Your list is wonderful and made me feel less alone. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 7, 2013

      Oh Amy, I am so sorry you are dealing with the illness and the loss of such a rewarding profession. So often non-death losses are not acknowledged by others, but they can be just as traumatic and difficult. Glad this post was helpful.

      Reply
  6. Callista
    October 8, 2013

    Wow! Amazing list. I just wanted to say thank you for it. I’m 22 and my dad whom I was extremely close to passed away a year and a half ago. Many days are still a struggle and sometimes I feel guilty that I’m still grieving or get told by my siblings that I need to get over it already. This was a much needed reminder that its ok to grieve.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 8, 2013

      I am so sorry about your dad. It can be so hard when others tell you when and how to grieve. It is so different for everyone, which is the worst when people start imposing their timeline or experience on you! Your grief is your own, and you deserve all the time, space, and support you need.

      Reply
    • Kate
      January 25, 2014

      Callista, I was 12 when my dad passed. I’m 45 and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Its ok. The grief gets easier, but always comes back. For me it’s events that he never got share. Birthdays, graduations, grandchildren, all of it. You are the only one who can say how you should feel.

      Reply
    • Brenda
      February 12, 2014

      Its been a year and a half for me also, my dad and I were extremely close also. Many days I struggle also and I know people are thinking that I need to move on from this. It is okay to grieve my dad loss, he was my hero and my best buddy. He died August 21, 2012 so many good memories I have with him. Love yah dad, Ill see you again

      Reply
  7. Journeys Mom
    October 8, 2013

    Am wondering if the author has ever lost a child? (In regard to differences in loss) I humbly disagree that all losses are the same and that none worse than another. As a mother, and speaking for other mothers who are grieving their child or children of any age, I can tell you there is a difference. A big difference. I have experienced several losses (friends, other family members, etc. and none compare.) I do agree that every loss is valid and painful and even unique to the person grieving. I especially agree that time does not heal all wounds and that many grieving mothers no matter how much time has passed are functioning on Gods life support and in a state of waiting. Waiting with the promise of being reunited in Heaven with their child (ren. God bless.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 8, 2013

      Hi Christie, I am so sorry for your loss. I have not lost a child and cannot even begin to imagine the devastation and pain of that loss. We did not mean to imply that all losses are the same, but rather that you cannot compare losses. Having gone through our own losses and worked professionally with many people who have lost children, spouses, parents, siblings, etc, our experience has been that each loss is unique and extremely difficult to compare to another. It is tempting for one mom to say to another who has lost a child, ‘I know how you feel’ or ‘I know what you are going through’. Though they may have more insight than someone who has never lost a child, our experience is that each loss is as unique as the relationship between that particular mother and her child. The same can be said for spouses, children who’ve lost parents, etc- the same type of loss does not always mean the same experience.

      There is no question some losses have more devastating impacts than others, but I have found it helpful over the years to look at any loss individually to understand that impact. So many people who have suffered multiple losses have shared their surprise when the death the thought would be the ‘easiest’ or the ‘hardest’ was not what they expected, so I always am cautious to make any blanket assumptions. For many who have suffered multiple losses they have shared the loss of a child (no matter the age) as the worst of those losses, but not always, which is why we caution against the idea of comparing or assuming that one can fully understand another’s experience because they have suffered the same type of death. Thank you for your insight and sharing your loss and experience here. I think as we all share experiences it makes us all a little better equipped to support each other.

      Reply
      • Christie
        October 12, 2013

        Lisa,
        Well said.
        I can’t imagine running into the mother who said the loss of her child or children was not the worst of her losses in regard to grief but I guess there is likely the percentage that don’t bond with their children. So sad.
        Your work is good, God bless you!

        Reply
        • David
          October 28, 2013

          A wonderful couple who were members of a church I pastored lost their son in a freak accident. They grieved together and became active in Compassionate Friends, working on their own grief and supporting others who had lost a child. A few years later the husband died in a freak accident. The wife told me, “Losing [our son] was terrible, but this is worse.”
          It was not that she had not bonded with her children. She was a wonderful mother to her sons.

          Reply
          • Lori
            October 28, 2013

            Thank you, David. I believe I can understand some of the reasoning behind that woman’s feelings. When she lost her son, she had the support of her husband; when she lost her husband, she didn’t have her best friend to lean on anymore.
            For those who continue to insist that losing a child is the worst pain or grief, please understand that what you are doing is basically telling the rest of us that our grief is not as valid as yours. I can tell you that I am already struggling enough with feeling that I haven’t progressed as far as I had hoped at this point (it’s been almost two years since my husband passed away), and to hear that it’s not as bad because “it’s the natural order of things, unlike when a parent outlives their child” doesn’t help. It’s not natural to find your husband has passed away in his sleep without warning when you are only in your thirties. Yes, I have friends and family who are extremely supportive but at the end of the day, I’m alone in my house and wishing I could talk to my husband. I cannot begin to express how sad it is to know you are alone in your grief. I am not only grieving the loss of my husband and best friend, but also the future and family we will never have.

            Reply
            • Jennifer
              December 2, 2013

              I have buried my only two children (one from a car wreck and one from cystic fibrosis) and my mother (I was the only daughter and we were very close), but losing my husband 21 months ago has been the worst loss of all. We loved our children and I still grieve over their loss, but now I have no one to share those memories with and have lost my love, best friend, partner who was my “rock” through all the other trials of life. I have no rock to lean on now.

              Reply
              • CherylAnn
                December 5, 2013

                (((Jennifer)))

                Reply
              • doreen
                February 11, 2014

                Big hugs. You don’t know me but even total strangers can offer comfort at times that you need it the most. My hope is that this helps. I would like you to know that people really do care. Let us be your rock right now.

                Reply
              • Elizabeth
                March 2, 2014

                Dear Jennifer, Out of grief for my mother, brother and baby in heaven I found this blog. The most recent death being my mother in Aug 2013. I have my husband and seven children. I read your paragraph and cried my eyes out.I wish I could hug you and take you into my family. I’m terrified to allow myself get close to my loved ones now because the pain has been so acute, I still do though. My mama was my anchor. People tell me cling to my husband make him my new anchor. How – hes going to die too. I am so sorry and cry tears for your pain. I can’t even imagine your heartache and wish I could so I could help you feel loved. I encourage you to seek to contact your husband and children through a Christian Medium. Yes they are out there and to those of you who disagree keep your comments to yourself. Its not for everyone but it gave me great comfort and a smile though brief to know they were right there with me. You can contact Lizzy Star International Medium. Just google her name. She is a christian and loves the Lord with all her heart. Her son died and they never found out why. Just in his sleep. She has had the gift of relating to spirit since a child. It is a God given gift. Honestly she saved my life. When my brother killed himself and I couldnt save him I couldnt breathe. Didnt want to live. She is amazing. You pay her online and she will contact your for a time that is good for both of you. Tape record it – you will listen to it over and over. She is Truly full of the Holy Spirit. So ignore anyones comments about it being Satanic. Its not – we are not to rely on psychics and mediums to tell us how to live our life – but the legitimate God Given Blessed with Gifts of the Holy Spirit are real – I am a deeply devoted Christian, Saved, etc. My Grandma was a Saint – per everyone. I don’t think she ever hurt a soul and a deeply devoted to Christ Christian. She came through in the read. If it was evil – she wouldn’t have come through. Don’t let the name Lizzy Star fool you. It sounds quirky – she has to protect her identity. Once you hear her beautiful maternal English accent you will feel right at home. I promise. She has a facebook page also. She makes jewelry to sell to help children who have this gift of seeing and to teach them to use it for the light. Yes there is evil out there and evil mediums. You don’t tell her anything at all about anything – just your name. Thats it. Don’t tell her the name of your loved ones, nothing. She will stop you if you accidentally do. She wants them to PROVE to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are ALIVE and THERE with YOU! Your husband probably kisses you every night. Ever feel a little tickle in her hair – thats him or your mom or daughters. I have learned to pray for Jesus and the Angels to let me discern if they are there. You will learn if you seek it out. I hate it when people tell me I need to say GOODBYE! Why? My brother said to me through Lizzy – “I am alive – I am not dead – please don’t call me dead – I am free. I am there just call out to me and I will be there.” Ask for signs… I did and started seeing blue jay feathers everywhere in weird places. My mailbox, inside my porch? how, in my car. It has become a game. The next reading I had with Lizzy she said Daniel wants you to sing the song about the Bluebird on My Shoulder – I didn’t get it til weeks later then put the two together – Zippity do Dah – and the feathers. My brother was saying he is now the Bluebird on my Shoulder!” Please take the leap and try. If it gives you just a little hope – heaven help who would say its not good. Blessings and I pray they post this long post without deleting anything. I gave Lizzy’s name as I know she is legitimate, there are ALOT of quacks out there. She was recommended to me and gave me air!

                Reply
              • Kathy
                April 9, 2014

                Jennifer,

                I have lost my husband too. It’s been a year and a half. We were together for 29 years. Due to uncanny circumstances, I am in a relationship with another man. We’ve known each other for 16 years, he lost his wife 6 months before I lost my husband. Of course, we have been able to support each other in grief and we’ve also become happy together. My children are upset and I understand, but they cannot know my position. I wish their father was here to talk to them and tell them that it’s OK. But he’s not, so I am going through my loss of him and the tension my new relationship has caused between myself and my daughters. I loved my husband very much and would do anything to have him here with me again. But he’s not and I’m trying to teach my girls that one can still be happy and move on. I’ve lost both my parents and my husband. I am the youngest of 6 kids and the first to lose a spouse. I still have nightmares over the last moments of my husband’s life. But the greatest pain I have is of the kids distancing themselves from me…empty nest WITH their dad would have been a grand time for us to rekindle the marriage…but he’s not here anymore. I am trying to be patient with them, but seeing life end so suddenly makes me fret that things may not resolve before one of us dies…you just never know. But I am trying to lead by example…honoring my husband and our life together and moving forward in my life and grabbing onto new happiness. It’s a dance of one step forward and two steps back at times… Hang in there everyone! We’re definitely not alone. And we should just be easy on ourselves and allow the grief to express itself. We will NEVER forget those we loved and lost as long as we are alive…but I think we can honor them by enjoying the rest of our lives as much as we can.

                Reply
                • Carolyn Cochrun
                  April 9, 2014

                  I really wish I could talk to your children. They are only causing pain for themselves in the future. My father died in 1969 when I was 18. My mother is still grieving for my father, the love of her life. But she date some in the past and when she got serious and was talking about marriage I threw a fit and said that my kids would never call him grandpa and he would not be my dad. She ended up not getting married b/c of what I said and now at age 82 she’s in a care facility with her sister and has been alone all of these years. I was just being selfish. Anyone she married wouldn’t be taking my dad’s place as I was married with children at the time she was talking about marriage again. I wasn’t looking from her point of view just my own and I didn’t want any one else to be my father. I made my mother have a long lonely life because of my selfishness. The children need to grieve their fathers loss but they need to understand that we are suppose to bury our dad and that mom has to go on the best way she can. You are very blessed to have found someone you have known for so long that understands your pain the loss you will always feel. I pray that your children will wake up before they make the same mistake I did and put you into a lonely life. I will keep you all in my prayers.

                  Reply
            • Susan Lenard
              January 2, 2014

              Lori, I agree with you. I lost my husband when he was 35, and it was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. It is hurtful to have people tell you it is the natural order of things, or make your grief feel invalid. Please do not be so hard on yourself. 2 years was a hard time for me, the first year as special dates came and went , I would think last year we did this or that last year, and have a memory, but the 2nd year, all I thought was he wasn’t here last year either. It was an extremely hard year for me. It has now been 22 years, and I have gotten used to it but not over it. God Bless you, I will remember you in my prayers.

              Reply
      • Karen
        November 2, 2013

        I agree completely, Litsa, that every loss is an individual one. People sometimes attempt to “comfort” by saying, “It could be worse…” measuring one person’s grief against another’s. It’s never helpful. When my son Max died in utero, the comparisons sometimes got absurd — was it worse to lose a child at full term (as we did) than to have a miscarriage? Is it worse to lose a child who is 10 years old than one who is 6? Is it worse to lose a parent or a spouse?

        Grief is always an individual process. It’s messy and it’s complicated. IMHO, the best thing we can do for each other is to honor a person’s own experience. Pain is pain; it lasts as long as it lasts; it is as devastating as that individual experiences it to be. All we can do is love one another through the process, without judgement or keeping score.

        Reply
    • Nicole Jurgens
      October 15, 2013

      I do agree with you on that! I also am a grieving mother…my daughter was 15 and passed 6/20/12…you are correct in saying not all losses are the same! Not even a parent who lost a child is the same as another!! I know locally of a mother who lost a child to murder one day after my daughter passed, and cannot relate to how she is grieving and her loss because i lost mine to an asthma attack which lead to brain damage….soooooo different. No loss feels the same for anyone! Thank you for saying that because I feel that way every single day

      Reply
      • Terrye Hunt
        October 16, 2013

        I would have to agree with you with all of my heart that all grieving is not the same. I think it is an insult for someone to use the line ” I know how you feel”, regardless of the loss or the relationship.

        Relationships come fuull, they come void, they come filled with love and they come filled with loss.

        I find it scary to write the words, death of a child, let alone think I could ever compare any of my losses to that of a child –

        God Bless the Mothers and the Fathers, all of them who endure such pain

        Reply
        • Christie
          October 16, 2013

          *** Post forbidden. Need manually approve. Request number 4cfe223e9d9ef958a198cbb7b7e0a804. Antispam service cleantalk.org. ***

          Reply
      • Christie
        October 16, 2013

        I agree that not all losses are the same even in the case of the worst type of loss imaginable being that of a child (in my opinion). I also can’t imagine the grief of parents of missjng children who are never found, a whole other level to which I can’t fathom.
        My feeling though is that though grief is grief and is as unique as the person who has passed there IS a difference between a child loss compared to that of a friend, spouse or other family member.
        It is the umbreakable bond between a mother and child that makes it so.

        This explains it best:

        We are connected,My child and I, by An invisible cord…Not seen by the eye…It’s not like the cord…That connects us ’til birth…This cord can’t been seen….By any on Earth…This cord does its work…Right from the start….It binds us together…Attached to my heart….I know that it’s there….Though no one can see…The invisible cord….From my child to me….The strength of this cord…Is hard to describe…It can’t be destroyed…It can’t be denied…It’s stronger than any cord…Man could create….It withstands the test…Can hold any weight…And though you are gone..,Though you’re not here with me,…The cord is still there…But no one can see…It pulls at my heart..I am bruised…I am sore,…But this cord is my lifeline…As never before….I am thankful that God…Connects us this way….A MOTHER AND CHILD…Death can’t take it away!

        Reply
        • Molly
          November 20, 2013

          There is a difference in ALL losses. That is the point. Comparing losses and sticking one loss up as being more special, more important (and if anyone disagrees it’s because they don’t love their children enough,) is exactly the kind of hurtful behavior that this article was hoping to help people learn to avoid. With varying degrees of success.

          Reply
    • Irene
      October 27, 2013

      My late father once told me – to loose a parent is normal, to loose a spouse is also normal, to loose a sibling in later life, is also normal, but to loose a child is the hardest of them all.

      Reply
      • Lori
        October 28, 2013

        Irene,
        Although I understand the sentiment behind what your father said, for those of us who have lost our spouses very early in life, it is NOT normal. I hate when people say that it is so much worse or harder for people to lose their children. I know that I do not have children and cannot fathom that pain, but it seems few people understand what it’s like to lose your husband very unexpectedly before you’ve had a chance to have any children. It means you’ve not only lost your partner and best friend, but that you are suddenly left with an empty home and the possibility of the future you planned. And while you’re going through this, you don’t have the person you need most to lean on as you’re grieving.
        Again, I think the best policy is not to compare people’s grief AT ALL. No one’s grief is the same as another’s, and I don’t ever minimize anyone else’s grief. I wish people would stop implying that my grief is somehow “less than” because it is for my spouse instead of a child.

        Reply
        • Amanda
          March 8, 2014

          I agree with you completely. No two people grieve in the same way. I lost my brother last April, and I was devastated. I can’t imagine how a person feels when they lose a spouse, or when a parent loses a child. Each loss is a unique and devastating tragedy, and it will always be the greatest pain ever felt by that person.

          Reply
      • Jennifer
        December 2, 2013

        Losing a child, in our developed culture, does not “seem” like the normal order of things… I.e. Is not normal. But in reality in most of history losing children to illness or accidents or miscarriages, or in birth, was not that uncommon and still is part of the “normal” that many people in the world still live with. And in fact, it happens quite a bit in our USA. People just assume that it won’t happen to them, and for many people they are lucky that it doesn’t.
        “You aren’t supposed to outlive your children.” Who says?? Certainly no one wants to, but we really have no idea what is or isn’t “supposed” to happen. As one who’s lost 2 children I actually find this reAlity helpful to me, to realize I am not special, my grief is not special, I am not a victim of an unjust world, I am not entitled because my loss is somehow “worse”. Life is hard, terrible things happen. My lesson is to be open to the pain of the world and try to have, more and more, a compassionate heart. In honor and memory of the angels I have lost, I hope I can live up to that lesson.

        Reply
        • Petal
          December 2, 2013

          Jennifer – I signed up to applaud the bravery in what you’ve just said.

          I agree that speaking out the truth is healing, which you have done. I am not as strong as you, the death of my dear sweet husband has just about killed my will to live.

          I lost both parents young (aged 14 / my father) (age 22/my mother) lost a child, first husband pretended to be married to someone else when actually still married to me @ time (so divorce age 27), multiple serious losses and trauma due to The Troubles in Northern Ireland, and I fought back, somehow sprung back to live again … but the recent loss of my husband who embraced me with the love of Christ and gave me the happiness I’d always missed, has just about destroyed my will to live.

          I have felt like I have nothing else to loose – but my professional career as a health care professional, I pray I never loose that, but nothing can replace my husband, even I met someone new – which I hope God sends my way, because this just isn’t practical, I have nothing now, and live in a strange new place as we’d left Northern Ireland due to The Troubles.

          Your bravery has helped me tonight, as it is now 4am and after having an intruder in the house last week who traumatised me further, I can’t sleep properly now. Thank you for your encouragement by ‘speaking the truth in love’.

          Reply
        • Kathy
          April 9, 2014

          Bravo, Jennifer!

          Reply
    • Marek
      December 13, 2013

      This may be true but I have seen in the last 6 months 2 mothers say in groups that their grief was worse than others. One was a mother telling one of her surviving children her grief was worse than sibling loss. The other a mother said that her grief was worse than losing your spouse of 25 years. When you are in grief it is the worse one. It is a very bad idea to compete for who is grieving the most and making it into a competition rather than being supportive.

      Reply
    • Grieving widow and mother
      January 7, 2014

      Is there a difference in losses? I think so. I lost a child of less than a year old and at times I still grieve over that loss that happened 50 years ago. I lost my husband a year and a half ago and there are days that I don’t think I can bear that loss. Maybe it’s due to time and to my age now. I don’t know.

      Reply
      • Litsa
        January 8, 2014

        I absolutely agree. I think each loss, and the grief that follows, is as unique as the relationship we had with the person who died. I think it also undoubtedly is influenced by where we are in our lives, other losses we’ve experienced, and countless other things. I am so sorry for both the devastating losses you’ve been through.

        Reply
      • sue
        January 31, 2014

        i am so sorry for your losses and i can relate to both, i have been there and done that also, but i do find relief by writing letters to my husband and keeping them in a file in my computer. i share with him the events that have occured and the good and disturbing things that go on in my life while i am missing him so much. i thank him for all the wonderful times we had in our lives and all the wonderful memories he left for our children. these letters to him give me some bit of peace and i talk to him and share my life as it is today.

        Reply
    • neeraj
      February 25, 2014

      Reading through the thread i sense that the loss of someone who is your rock or you have invested most emotions in causes most grief(whether it is child or spouse). Thus my grief is greater than yours is an unjustified discussion. This applies to work as a physician too.
      As a medic who sees death amongst families every week with different stories of loved ones to hear and grief shared, i do believe answers come from within on the grieving process- its duration and impact. Bills needing to be paid are useful as they bring a purpose to the next day-an anodyne to the pain you are going through like taking one step and then the next just to cope with the impossible boulder that you have suddenly been asked to carry. Not sure if this helps but just thoughts added to the pot. Neeraj

      Reply
  8. Cherish
    October 8, 2013

    Thank you I need this my mom just passed 2 weeks ago from cancer she has been mentally ill all my life so wasn’t as close as other mother and daughters so I truly felt I wasn’t going to have a hard time with her passing but I was truely wrong I wept like I never have before and with in days I felt guilt for the anger I had all my life towards her even if I felt justices before I felt broken when she left I’m deal and going though the motions I helped take care of her at the end made my amends and had that time but yes her passing has changed me for ever

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 8, 2013

      Cherish, that is so hard and I’m so sorry. It can be do difficult when we don’t anticipate how deeply a loss will impact us. It sounds like your relationship with your mom has been complicated. As one of our readers submitted for this list, when someone dies you are often left grieving your past, present, and future with that person. That can be overwhelming, especially if the relationship hasn’t always been easy. Take care.

      Reply
  9. Patti Hall
    October 8, 2013

    Multiply the quality and volume of this list by the number of deaths that occur in your circle of family and friends in a short period of time.
    Patti Hall recently posted…Gates and Fences; New Page at Phall PhotosMy Profile

    Reply
  10. joan
    October 8, 2013

    I recently lost in June, my ONLY child, my son Marco, after he fought 32yrs with cystic fibrosis. I raised him as a single mom, the father bailed when my son was 3. I love my son and will see him again, but in the meantime, I’m punished to be alone …no other kids, no spouse, no reason to have joy…guilt, remorse, regret…I carry darkness till I die…and wish Jesus would return so I can see my boy again

    Reply
    • Misty
      October 8, 2013

      God finds a way to bring joy back into your life even when you least expect it. God knows our pain more than anyone for he didnt spare his son for us. I dont know you personally but my heart suffers with you as I lost my oldest son last year also. I am sorry for your lost but you just continue to hold on to the love of Christ and all the years he gave you with that precious life. He is not gone honey he just went home before you…..my love to you in Christ!

      Reply
    • Irene
      October 27, 2013

      Joan, my heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  11. Lucie Brandt (MA., CCC)
    October 8, 2013

    It may be helpful to write some pointers for people who are grieving (or about to grieve) the loss of someone who has hurt them very deeply or with whom they have had a difficult relationship:

    “if you are grieving the loss of someone who has hurt you deeply, the process of grieving may take longer and may be more difficult to process.”

    “the loss of someone who has hurt you deeply will surely bring up old wounds, regrets, and “unfinished business”. To the extent that love was absent from the relationship, these wounds may make the emotions of grieving all the more difficult to tolerate.

    “Remember that the brain is wired to be biased toward negative thoughts and memory recall. If possible, take the time to reflect upon / remember the positive.”

    “It is normal and acceptable at times to feel relieved after someone has died.”

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 8, 2013

      Great suggestions, Lucie. Thanks so much!!

      Reply
    • Roger Johnson
      October 30, 2013

      Thank you for your post. I’ve not heard people speak of this before and it is helpful in my circumstance. My wife was mentally ill and became abusive. So much so I had to move out. I spent her last night with her to get her to a court hearing in the morning and she took her life during the night while I was asleep. I still had love for her but there was too much fear to remain with her. Now I deal with all of the bad memories and try to forgive her for them, but there are so many of them the thoughts keep coming. We did have good times and I work to remember them. I have had some counseling but am starting another series with someone else to help deal with the PTSD associated with finding her. Thank You again.

      Reply
  12. Lucie Brandt (MA., CCC)
    October 8, 2013

    I like the point above about not “protecting children” from grieving processes:

    The following is an excellent book for parents:

    WHEN A PARENT IS SICK (Subtitle: Helping Parents Explain Serious Illness to Children) by Joan Hamilton

    The above resource is helpful if you and your spouse are on the same page with respect to what is going on. If this is not the case, it may be helpful to speak to a Couple and Family Therapist.

    This is another excellent book which deals with death, divorce, pet loss, moving and other losses: WHEN CHILDREN GRIEVE by James, Friedman and Matthews.

    Reply
  13. Misty
    October 8, 2013

    I lost my son last year. There is an emptiness in me that will always be there. I sometimes have a hard time holding back the emotion. I can just think of something and It is like it just happened all over again. God has been my constant strength through this nightmare. I smile and laugh and live life to the fullest but I will never be the same, I am just waiting on God to return so that I can see him again, hold him and tell him my heart. I dont know if I did before by now I take nothing for granted. I tell everyone I love them and hug them when I see them as much as I can. I never want my love for them to not be known. Cherish all the time God gives you with the people you love cause time is fleeding and they are gone in the blink of an eye. Also thank you for letting me know that I am normal in my grief. I am a nurse and I come into contact with alot of pain, I know God guides me through each day and uses me as a vessel through this tragedy. God has been changing my life in miraclous ways. I am blessed and thankful for the Love of Christ!

    Reply
  14. Terrye Hunt
    October 9, 2013

    “She lived a good life ” because she was older ) – Is not an appropriate response to a grieving child of an older parent…

    “S/ looks good ” ( viewing comment ) – Is not an appropriate statement. S/he is dead for gods sake, you are an idiot, how can she look good..

    Thank god it is okay to be angry that people say stupid things … They showed up to show their support for you, their respect for the deceased * Remember that, not the stupid comments if you can…

    Reply
    • Lulu
      April 11, 2014

      Terrye i been crying my eyes out feeling the pain everyone feels here and feeling my own pain trying to make sense of things. But i have to say your comment put a smile on my face and laughter in my heart . Even stupid idiots could make us laugh in hard times. thank you

      “S/he is dead for gods sake, you are an idiot, how can she look good..”

      Reply
  15. Bonnie
    October 9, 2013

    Grief – You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go THROUGH it.

    Reply
  16. BJ
    October 9, 2013

    Whether one has lost a family member, a pet, a friend, a job or something else that has held personal significance, the stages of grief are very real. Theses points and comments are very helpful, and many are ones I have shared with others or have said to myself in order to remember them. The most important lesson I have learned about grief is that there are no rules. Everyone grieves differently and in his/her own way, often without realizing what is happening to them.

    Thank you for this website; I plan to share it with others!

    BJ

    Reply
  17. Chrissy
    October 9, 2013

    Guilt is a waste of your well needed energy (even if years have gone by)…process it, but don’t keep processing it over and over to the point that you become harmful to your “progress in your process”. Grief is a process. I agree it is one that you never “get over”, but you will gain ‘progress’ in the healing/pain. Love every single one of these! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  18. Eric
    October 12, 2013

    First, thank you. Despite feeling like poking wounds I long thought scarred over, this trip down darker segments of Memory Ln was somehow reassuring. Contributions from my own experiences:

    Your tears will bring a true and literal understanding of the term “gut-wrenching” and you’ll wish you could never cry again. Your wish will come true but this will also be painful and you’ll wish you’d never willed away the tears. This wish will also come true.

    “Grief can make you question your faith.” You may not like the answers.

    “Why?” and “What if…?” are unanswerable. The trick is to figure out how to live without the answers.

    You may find the person you lost was the glue that held your family/friends together. You might drift apart temporarily or permanently, or you might find new glue.

    Others may act like the person you lost was perfect. You’ll feel like the only one who saw imperfections and this will make you feel guilty.

    It’s okay to be mad at the person for leaving you.

    You will forget – things about them, or them altogether for a moment – and this will bring a new style of guilt. You will remember them in unexpected ways.

    It’s okay to live, laugh, love.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 12, 2013

      Eric, Thanks and these are OUTSTANDING additions. I especially love what you say about forgetting and the new type of guilt that brings- so very true. I think the reason there can be a twisted comfort in grief is that the grief itself is a sign we still remember. As hard as the pain of grief can be, reconciling the reality that we will eventually start to forget can be equally as hard. Thank you so much for adding to the list!

      Reply
    • Kathy
      April 9, 2014

      I can relate to the “why” and “what if”….I keep thinking if I can find the answers the result of death will reverse itself. Or somehow things get FIXED. I know it’s not rational. But I think that when death and fatal disease comes suddenly, the denial just puts you over the edge. I found that after my husband died, I was still trying to process the diagnosis of his cancer 6 months earlier.

      Reply
  19. Carla Hill
    October 14, 2013

    Sometimes we do most of our grieving before our loved one dies. There are some things far worse than death and when you see them suffering from horrendous pain day after day…..or put through one excruciating procedure after another, you experience deep grief. You grieve for what they’re going through and grieve because you can’t help. When they pray for deliverance from a failing body and death doesn’t come swiftly enough, you grieve. When they are finally at peace, free from suffering and pain, there can be tremendous relief because you’ve already been grieving for a very long time. Does that mean you don’t miss them? Absolutely not, but you can experience peace and celebrate them home in heaven!

    Reply
    • Terrye Hunt
      October 15, 2013

      This is reassuring to read is some small way. On my Birthday this year, June 26th I sat in the middle of my living room floor and I wept and wept and wept. I prayed God would not let my mother suffer any longer. She passed one month later to the day. There are times I feel like I suffered more watching her than I have since she passed. I have created a bench at my summer place that is very park like, I’ve burned (etched into ) a bench there that reads ” Meet you by the Stream “… That is were was always said we would meet after death ( by the stream ). I have a tattoo on my foot that reads the same thing. Sometimes I question myself that the pain was more severe when she was alive than it has been since she left. I ma happy ? to read your comments. It leaves me feeling human..

      Reply
    • Litsa
      October 15, 2013

      This is so true, Carla. The pain of watching someone suffer is unbearable, and when we know death is coming it is such a common experience to begin grieving. It can be confusing when you haven’t gone through it- thank you for adding! We have a post about coping with anticipatory grief here: http://whatsyourgrief.com/anticipatory-grief/

      Reply
  20. Kaylin
    October 16, 2013

    Crying is necessary, but it never really helps. It never makes me feel any better. It’s not a “satisfying” cry like crying when you’re stressed.

    Reply
  21. Catherine
    October 23, 2013

    It is OK to be happy, to enjoy life, celebrate new life joy for
    Me is very independent of my grief and I embrace
    The re entering of joyous emotions.
    Fortunately I had very wise counsel that had told
    Me it was OK to enjoy life and I want to pass
    Those words along. Let there be no guilt about it!

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 23, 2013

      Great addition to this list!!

      Reply
  22. Perri
    October 24, 2013

    Kaylin, I completely agree with you about crying…I know it’s necessary but I do not feel better afterwards, headache, heartache, red eyes and pain.

    I lost my son to suicide in Aug 2010, he was 30. My husband had a heart attack and died at work one year ago.

    I would add one thing to your list: not all the people who said,” If you need anything, anything at all” are able to back that up with action. It hurts but it doesn’t mean they don’t care.

    Reply
  23. Eileen
    October 26, 2013

    Any loss can cause feelings of grief, so be kind and patient

    Reply
  24. Jeanie
    October 27, 2013

    Thank you for this list. We lost our younger son suddenly in June of this year. I have been amazed at how primitive people are to the grieving process. It’s hard to get out and go through daily life, and to see people consciously avoiding you because they either don’t know what to say, or fear your horrific loss will happen to them, makes the grieving so much harder. I’m sure it was on your list in some form, but the people who helped us the most just did things-didn’t say “call me if you need anything” (who ever calls? Most of us don’t) or say “what can I do?” They just saw what needed to be done and did it-so grateful. Also, be sure to text/call/ send cards weeks and months after, as you think of it. The world goes on, but the griever’s heart is stopped.

    Reply
  25. Colleen
    October 28, 2013

    Number 29 has me curious. Could you tell us more of what you mean. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Litsa
      October 30, 2013

      Colleen, I agree very much with what Diane says. #29 was submitted by one of our readers, so I cannot speak for what she intended, but for me the reason this was so important to include was because caregiving can be all-consuming. Your time, energy, and identity are deeply connected to the person who is ill. When that person dies the loss can have additional dimensions after caregiving. There can be complex feelings of relief and guilt, as well as a need to re-establish life after caregiving. Taking the time to acknowledge those emotions is so important. That may be through time away with friends you can talk to, a grief retreat, or on a smaller scale just talking to a counselor or support group if ‘getting away’ isn’t an option. Finding a caregivers support group while someone is sick can be a big help as well.

      Reply
    • Lori from San Diego
      November 24, 2013

      RE: #29
      I lost my husband on April 1, 2010. I got the Hell out of Dodge 3 days later….for 10 days I drove around California, landing in Cambria because I needed to get away from our home, where he died. I just could not cope with being in that house. I was my husband’s caregiver for the 6 weeks he spent in hospice and I just needed a break from reality. I don’t know if you’ve lost someone (and I really hope you haven’t!) but, for me, running away was a lifesaver.
      Take care friend.

      Reply
      • Litsa
        November 24, 2013

        Lori, I am so sorry for your loss. Being a caregiver is so physically and emotionally draining. When a person dies caregivers are often in a place of total exhaustion. ‘Running away’ can get a bad rap, but I think what you describe can be a positive and important way to get time to yourself. Getting space from the location of the death can be important or space from other people can be very helpful. I am glad the space was good for you at that time. Thank you for sharing!!

        Reply
    • Colleen
      November 24, 2013

      I was off from work for 11 months, caring for my husband. The hospice CNA could only stay 2 hours, 2 days a week, for me to get away. The nearest city was a 20 minute drive. Some of that time away I was “drive-by shopping” for a house in town to buy. I knew I had to plan ahead, that was part of my self induced therapy. Day dreaming and setting goals kept me sane. I wasn’t sure if this running away
      statement was aimed at during the loss or after. He was with hospice 6 months before he passed of COPD.

      Reply
  26. Kaye
    October 28, 2013

    I disagree with just one thing, death can be emergent. Sometimes you only get that one moment to say good bye, or hear good bye. There may not be closure but I believe it would be easier to face the death if you have the opportunity to say a few things before they die.

    Reply
  27. Carol
    October 28, 2013

    I am a bereaved mother. I lost my youngest daughter in a tragic car accident on May 30, 2011. She had been 16 years old for only two months. Having lost both my parents, as well as all of my in-laws, grandparents, and some uncles, aunts and friends, I can tell you that there is no comparison. My father-in-law was brutally murdered in a crime that remains unsolved to this day. As horrible as that was, this is worse. I buried my baby. With all due respect, until someone has put their own child into the ground, they have no idea.

    Reply
    • melody wronkow
      December 4, 2013

      I have to agree, Carol. My God, there are no words for this at all. I tried to use words but the best I could come up with was – Now,I believe in Hell because I´m in it. That was 9 1/2 years ago. My daughter was 14 1/2. I would´ve gladly thrown myself in the grave so she wouldn´t be alone and, yes, so I could escape the pain.

      Reply
  28. Lou
    October 29, 2013

    Some people don’t know what to say, or will say, or will say the wrong things, but this doesn’t mean they don’t care. Consider whether you would have understood this grief before it happened to you.

    Sometimes grief will become a habit, it feels safe because you’ve been grieving so long that it starts to feel like part of you, like you don’t know how to be happy, or content, or calm. Grieving will feel like you are keeping that person in your life, but you can be happy without ‘letting them go’.

    Reply
  29. Tom
    October 29, 2013

    I found CS Lewis’s book, A Grief Observed to be very helpful. He opens with the notion that losing a person you love is more like an amputation that, say, having your appendix out. After the removal of their appendix, there’s a recovery period and the person never thinks of it again, except occasionally when they catch sight of a small scar in the mirror. But with an amputation, you have pain in a limb that is not actually there, often for years and no matter how well you learn to get around on your prosthetic leg, every time you strap it on it reminds you that you will never again be a biped. But this is not to say that you can’t have a good and happy life as an amputee. But you don’t ‘get over’ an amputation, you adjust to it.

    Reply
    • Terrye Hunt
      October 29, 2013

      This is interesting to read because when my sister died suddenly my mom used the amputation as a comparison. My dad was an amputee and my mom said she felt like someone had severed both her arms from her body. She said the pain was so unreal she prayed to die, she felt like she was bleeding to death, she wanted to bleed to death even but she couldn’t just choose to bleed to death.
      She said I have to learn to live my life all over again without any arms. I won’t don’t but my life will never be the same.
      This is the most accurate reflection of the pain that death causes that I have ever read.
      God Bless

      Reply
    • Litsa
      October 30, 2013

      Tom, I loved this book as well. In the very first passage is one of my favorite quotes about grief: “no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”.

      Reply
      • Terrye Hunt
        October 30, 2013

        “No one ever told me that grief was so like “fear”"… The more I read on this site, the more I enjoy what I read here. This site is like having a group of silent friends. The speak, they touch your soul in a way that even the closest of friends can’t find you …

        Reply
  30. Diane Ball
    October 29, 2013

    Colleen
    re #29. I understand this. My mom was taking care of my aunt when she had cancer. It was the same time I had my daughter. My mom was afraid to leave my aunt to fly and see her first handbaby. She was afraid my aunt would die while she was gone and that my aunt only wanted her there. My mom’s dr told her to go or she was going to have a nervous breakdown. It was her debrief coming to see me. Being a caregiver is a very stressful event especially if the person is a family member. It takes it toll on a person.

    Reply
  31. Stephanie
    October 31, 2013

    Thank you so much for this list! In 2007 I lost my little brother, age 40, who was my best friend to a single motorcycle drunk driving accident. Then 1 year later I lost my Grandmother who was instrumental in my childhood. In 2009 both of my parents (who had been divorced for 34 years) died from cancer only 6 days apart. In early 2012 I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. During treatments I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer, unrelated to the breast cancer. Today I am cancer free. I wish I could have seen this list when I was experiencing all of the loss. It strikes me that in many of the lines Cancer could replace Death and it would also apply. I love #57. Death/Cancer does rewrite your address book. I can only agree that grief lasts forever. And it blind sides you. Like a kick to the stomach at times. Like a warm embrace at others. I love with my whole heart and don’t ever regret it.

    There is a moment in the movie Rabbit hole where amother who lost a child talked about it being as if she carried this brick in her pocket and sometimes she forgot for a while and lived her life but then aftef a few minutes she put her hand in her pocket and thoughf ” oh yeah. That.” Very well said.

    Reply
    • Eleanor
      November 1, 2013

      Stephanie, I’m so sorry about all the loss you’ve had to experience in your life. Thank goodness though that you are cancer free! That is an interesting comment about these being able to apply to something like cancer, you are very right.

      Reply
  32. Ade
    November 1, 2013

    When I saw the heading I thought to myself that 64 things was rather a lot….
    As I read through the list I found myself jumping ahead looking for the one that would make it better….no surprise it wasn’t there….
    What I did find though was a common thread, and guilt seems most prevalent ….along with the many many positive comments …..

    I lost my dear Bros earlier this year……it doesn’t matter why he died, as I’m fairly sure we all will eventually…..what matters is how he died….
    He died as he wished, at home and with his Wife and Son at his side……for honouring his wishes I am eternally grateful… it just fills me with equal parts of joy and sorrow.

    When I feel sad I just thank god (with a small g) that my Bruv was lucky enough to have been so loved….better to have loved and lost…and all that……

    Ps a damn good blub and medium dose of self pity mixed with fond memories helps me.
    …and as many post….’cut yourself some slack’ and.take solace where you find it
    Pps. Love you Bro….xx

    Reply
  33. Autumn
    November 2, 2013

    Also know that the person grieving may have never had such a loss before, and they themselves may say ignorant things. When my dad died almost two years ago, I was 29. I had already lost most of my grandparents, but I was not very close to any of them, so my dads death hit me harder than I was prepared for. I often said that it would have been easier had I been older and thus “expecting” his death. I now know that that’s of course not true.
    And telling me he had a nice long life never helped, because the age gap between us (41 years) meant that even though i was only 29, he was 70, and the unfairness of spending more of my life without a dad than with one is sometimes too much to bear. I’m glad someone pointed out the guilt associated with the passage of time; that’s been the only thing that hassle me truly feel like I’m crazy. “I want to keep hurting because that means that it just happened and I don’t have the possibility of another 50 years without dad looming ahead of me.
    Also, is it possible to make a printer-friendly version of this with the helpful comments somehow included?

    Reply
  34. Darcy
    November 5, 2013

    Every death is sudden.

    Reply
  35. Chris
    November 7, 2013

    Thank you for this post, I have two children that have a degenerative brain disorder called Juvenile Batten Disease. Grief is a daily occurence in our lives as we watch them slowly lose abilities. Batten Disease causes blindness, seizures and eventually the loss of motor skills such as walking, talking and even swallowing. We have not yet lost either of our children, but I grieve every time I recognize a decline in skills, I find myself angry because other 16 year olds are getting drivers licenses, and I cry. Alot. But, I also try to find a sense of normalcy and try to keep a sense of humor, it helps. Accepting help and support is a big challenge but we are trying to get better about this. I dread the day that is coming when we will lose one and then the other of our children to this cruel disease and this type of post puts it into perspective. Thanks again for sharing this.
    Chris recently posted…Celebration of BaptismMy Profile

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 12, 2013

      Thanks so much Chris for sharing here. I just visited your blog and appreciate so much the incredible strength of your family and support from your friends — I was not familiar with mealtrain, but what an amazing effort from your friends. Though we often think about grief as associated with a death, grief comes in so many forms and around so many types of loss. Wishing you many happy days with your sons and continued strength, sense of normalcy, and sense of humor!

      Reply
  36. Mark
    November 14, 2013

    Thank you for this list. My wife died a little over a month a go after a 15 year battle with breast cancer. She was to an inspiration to all of us. The list you provide certainly will help my family as we grieve our loss.

    Reply
  37. Barbara
    November 14, 2013

    It’s ok to feel relief that your loved one has passed. After a long illness you may have most of your grief behind you and feel a sense of relief, release and freedom. Don’t feel guilty. It doesn’t mean you didn’t love them very dearly.

    Reply
  38. Cindy
    November 14, 2013

    Thank you so much for this list, it came at a time when I was doubting myself and wondering if I was going crazy. I just lost my husband on June 30, of this year. We would have been married 25 years in Jan 2014. It was all of a sudden even though he had been sick for sometime. I have been experiencing all of this. In fact I started crying after reading this list and relating them to how I have been feeling. Funny, I did not feel this way when my mother or grandmother passed away. When they passed, I felt relief for them and comfort. I know my husband is in a better place, and I know he is with me, and I take comfort in that.

    Reply
  39. Nancy Patee
    November 17, 2013

    Grief, makes you lose focus . I lost my husband suddenly 10 days ago. I find I can’t focus on any thing, I just can’t focus, I go from thing to thing and it is so hard to complete a task. My husband and I loved each other very much. The one thing to me has really come out was everybody around us new this, I guess in my own world and did not realize people felt that way about us.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 17, 2013

      Oh Nancy, I am so sorry about the death of your husband. You are so right that grief makes us lose focus, especially early in. Concentrating can feel almost impossible. I find, even years later, that is still the case for me on especially tough days- anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Glad you found our site and hope it is of some support in the coming months.

      Reply
  40. C Hedley
    November 18, 2013

    When someone dies from an alleged suicide – people don’t say “I’m really sorry for your loss”. Quite often they don’t say anything at all. They should acknowledge your pain of loss, regardless how the death occurred.

    Reply
  41. LW
    November 24, 2013

    Number 8 is a big fat lie. Death is an emergency and you don’t always get time to say goodbye. My husband dropped dead at work. Where wasy chance to say goodbye??? What about that wasn’t an emergency?? Just out of the blue to have only one symptom – sudden death. You don’t call that an emergency?

    That really ticks me off.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Hi LW, I am so sorry for the death of your husband. Sudden deaths can be especially devastating for exactly the reason you describe (and many more). This list is not intended as something in which every item will ring true for every person. Losses are each so unique that there are no universals. We asked our regular readers to submit something they wish someone had told them. Number 8 was a reader submission, so I can’t speak to how it was intended. As someone who has lost someone suddenly and unexpectedly, I absolutely agree that there are emergencies where you can’t literally say goodbye to that person. Later I found other ways to say my goodbyes -for me- but of course I never got to say them to him, so it totally different. I included everything submitted (the ones in quotes) on this list, whether I could relate or not, because the goal was not a list where everyone could relate to all things, but rather where people could share lessons they learned personally that they wish they had known. Sadly, one that isn’t on this list and should be, is sometimes you just can’t physically say goodbye. And that can be devastating.

      Reply
    • Melody Montgomery
      November 26, 2013

      LW, I am so sorry for your loss. I am sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye.

      Reply
  42. Barb
    November 24, 2013

    Seems so negative. If I was grieving and read that list, I don’t know what I would do. Thank God I am a trained Bereavement Coordinator.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Hi Barb, sorry, I saw your other comment first and replied, so the replies may overlap a bit! I suspect this list seems negative because it is based on what I wish people had told me, not the things they did. Everyone focused on the positive- that things would get better, grief could be transformative, it would make me a stronger and better person, etc. Dozens of my posts on this site are dedicated to the ways that is true and helping others get to that place.

      The problem for me was people focused on the positive when I needed people to validate the pain. I went to several grief counselors who I stopped seeing after a couple visits because all the could conceptualize was the transformative nature of grief, when in the early days that was the LAST thing I wanted people shoving at me. It takes time to get to that place. I ultimately saw a therapist who was the most helpful because he did not throw the ‘positive’ ‘transformative’ stuff at me when I was not in a place to hear it. As a counselor myself now, many years later, I believe ultimately people can guide you there, but you have to come to it on your own. In my experience people telling me those “positive” things that would come only made me feel alienated and alone. So many people are seeking validation and understanding of the negative and gentle guidance to the positive.

      Thanks for visiting! Hope you take some time to visit the rest of our site!

      Reply
  43. Barb
    November 24, 2013

    Is there good that comes from the hard times?

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Hi Barb! I think there is much good that comes from grief. If you have clicked around our blog hopefully you have seen that much of our site is dedicated to the incredibly powerful, transformative nature of grief. This list was things I wish people had told me, not a list of all things about grief. Way too many people told me positive things- it gets easier after a year, this will make you a stronger/better person, etc. The reality is that take a lot of time. In the early stages of grief everyone tells you that and my experience was of constant frustration that no one wanted to talk about how devastating the loss was, but instead wanted to focus on these positives or avoid all together. It made me feel my experience was crazy or abnormal. The goal of this list is not to say there is not good that come from loss- in fact we founded this blog around that premise in many ways. It is to say I wish someone had acknowledged these things so I (and so many other grievers I have worked with) wouldn’t feel crazy or abnormal.

      Reply
  44. C Hedley
    November 24, 2013

    A bereavement by suicide is not only unexpected but it’s unnatural and in many causes extremely traumatic. Some of us can’t even begin to grieve because we’re in shock or denial. Where the death has been traumatic for your loved one, you can develop PTSD. We have so many questions about why the death has occurred and why your loved one never asked for help. And if you’re not the next of kin (because your child has married or had a child of their own) the Authorites (Police,Hospital and Coroner) in the UK won’t even speak to you to inform you of any developments concerning the death. You don’t even have the right to bury your own child and if you’re not in contact with their spouses for any reason (and tensions are usually quite high at this time) you may also experience difficulties in seeing your grandchildren.

    Barb – I’d be interested to know if you’ve come across this situation before with your bereavement counselling.

    http://www.justgiving.com/caroline-hedley

    Raising awareness & funds for Survivors of Bereavement By Suicide in the UK

    Reply
  45. Treceda S
    November 24, 2013

    Grief can make you push people you love away a bit. My mom died by self inflicted wounds when I was 16, I was in a fog first, struggling through each day with waves of sorrow, empty spaces, and reruns running through my head for months. After the numb walking came the blame stage, what could I have done different? this stage lasted for two decades. Nightmares where she was hidden off with my dad that she had divorced when I was three and suddenly there they both were. Guess my grief of not knowing him blended in with my grief of losing her. Then came the anger stage, I am still mad at her for leaving me in such a way. I am angry because she missed knowing my children and my grandchildren. Then I think of the love she showed us, the choo choo trains of all of us dancing through the house in a line singing who wears short shorts? the sacrifices she made to keep all of us together. I am in my fifties now and I just wish she had been here for my life. Reflections on how it would have been different with her guiding me instead of me being thrown into a world too soon with so little ammunition to cope. But I had her mother there with her pearls of wisdom to guide me when I would listen. It’s hard to listen when your head is full of grief and you put on a face that ‘I’m alright” to the world.

    Reply
  46. Sherry Marts
    November 24, 2013

    Thank you for this, what a gift it is!

    One thing I would add: death is not the only thing we grieve over. Some things we (or those around us) may not think of as the “loss of a loved one” bring grief – the loss of a job or career (even if the choice was yours), the end of a relationship, moving your home. (What we call “homesickness” is a form grief.)

    Another thing I’ve learned is that in our “get over it and move on” culture, people often (usually, in my experience) need permission to grieve.

    May you grieve deeply and well.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Thank you Sherry- that is such an important point! We grieve so many things- loss of home, loss of job, divorce, loss of friendships, loss of health/mobility, and on and on. What is also important is that each of those losses is deeply individual and unique. One person may move from a home and adjust quickly and easily, another may find that loss devastating and struggle to adapt. There is not recipe for grief- it is as unique as each of us and our relationship with whatever or whoever we have lost. Thank you for your insight!

      Reply
  47. Pamela King
    November 24, 2013

    This is a really good and comprehensive list. Thank you for the contribution.

    Where author’s are quoted (and thanks for doing so), please also give attribution to author and/or book title. Their words are their living and it would really help them out. Remember, sage as they may be, they are our fellow “grievers” and have put words to our emotions. They deserve credit for helping us break out of our sorrowful shells. Thank you.

    And thanks again for this spot on list.
    Pamela King recently posted…Turning the PageMy Profile

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Hi Pamela, glad you enjoyed the list. Those in quotes were things posted on our facebook page (I said I wanted to make a list and asked people to comment with suggestions) so I will see if I can go back to that facebook post/comments and see if I can perhaps embed the post and comments here. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Reply
  48. Alan Lopez
    November 24, 2013

    Interesting list. Here’s my comments on it:
    12. Nobody brought me food, but I wasn’t able to eat anyway.
    16. I hate the term “closure.” Bank accounts are closed, windows are closed, but the love we carry for those closest to us never closes.
    17. But too many people want to impose time limits for us.
    27. I never knew there was pain this deep.
    28. And pain too.
    38. And it’s always people that don’t know what they’re talking about. Nobody can tell anyone how to feel.
    42. I’ve always been jealous of widows who say they are numb. I wish I were numb so I wouldn’t feel the pain.
    49. So don’t make big decisions based on the fact that you feel good or bad that day.
    53. Just the opposite.
    54. I got sick of being told “It’s OK to cry.” As if men don’t know that, and I hadn’t already cried a river.

    Reply
  49. Maggie
    November 24, 2013

    I would add:

    Don’t throw away the deceased’s personal possessions too soon, or too quickly. After things quiet down, you may find that you actually wanted to save more of their ‘stuff’ than you thought.

    Don’t be surprised if you have difficulty focusing, even on important tasks. After a big loss, it’s not uncommon to find your ‘mental computer’ slowing down like a laptop with too many programs running, while the grief runs in teh background of whatever you’re trying to do.

    Let somebody else do the driving for at least a few days.

    It DOES get better. Slower than we would wish, but it does.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Thanks Maggie! Everyday I get excited about the more great things added to this list. I think soon we are going to need a 64 MORE things list.

      Reply
  50. Hank
    November 24, 2013

    This is a very comprehensive and helpful list. As someone who has lost both parents, a brother-in-law, and a daughter–as well as presided at more than 200 funerals (yes, I am a pastor), I found it generally very accurate from both observation and from my own personal experience. I especially appreciate comment #16; I actually cringe every time I hear someone talk about bereaved people “finding closure.” Those words have to come from someone who has never really experienced grief.

    I have also found that for myself, I cannot say things have “gotten better;” I find it more appropriate to say they have gotten “less difficult.”

    I would also note that for many people grief is cumulative. Each subsequent death of a person important to us is amplified the grief we experienced over those who predeceased them.

    And there is one other very important thing I would stress: People of great faith, profound, belief, trust in the Divine, and anticipation of an afterlife are not immune to grief. Those who say if you grieve you don’t truly believe are woefully wrong.

    In my retirement, I am still called on from time to time by local funeral homes. I hope that it would be acceptable for me to copy this list and make it available to people I work with who may need to read it.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      November 24, 2013

      Thank you Hank, both for your service as a pastor to those grieving, and for your outstanding comments on this list. Please feel free to share this (and any other post on our site) with anyone who you feel may benefit.

      I think your comment about cumulative grief is especially important. We have a post about that here that doesn’t get nearly as much play around the web as this post has, but I think it is such an important consideration in grief, as I am sure you are aware having suffered numerous losses. The link to that post is here: http://whatsyourgrief.com/cumulative-grief-aka-grief-overload/

      Thanks for visiting and sharing!

      Reply
      • Hank
        November 24, 2013

        Thank you, Litsa! I did share this article on my Facebook. Thank you as well for your permission to share the article further (and likely others too). For sure, I will make this one available to others whom I think would need to read it. Now, I’ll check out your “grief overload” article.

        Reply
  51. Joyce
    November 25, 2013

    All of the things on the list touched me so deeply. death is so final. My wishes are to just touch Mom again and feel her angel kisses on my cheek and say my name, which noone does, would make me so happy. I need someone who has been by a loved ones side and talked them through the dying process and felt their last heartbeat. Not many have done this and I find that lots of people cannot understand what death is all about. I cherish that last moment. I feel at peace that Mom is in a better place now, but only if I could hold her again.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      This is so true, Ruth. So many (even who have been through a loss) may not relate to caring for someone through their death. Have you considered a grief group through a local hospice? That may be a space you could connect with others who share that common experience.

      Reply
  52. Elisa
    November 25, 2013

    Everyone grieves differently and no one death is the same as another. My husband died at 42 unexpectedly and I thought it was the worst thing that would ever happen to me.2 years and a week later my son disappeared, it took 6 months to find him in his truck in a canal. I learned never to say this is the worst thing that can ever happen. I learned that all the comments made about losing a husband were true. I learned losing a child is a lot worse than losing a husband. But, I also know you live your own experiences and realities and telling that to someone grieving over a spouse or parent makes no sense. Their reality is their grief and it’s the worst for them.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      Oh Elisa, that is so much loss and I cannot even imagine the pain of the 6 months not knowing where your son was. Thank you for sharing here, and you are in my thoughts this holiday season . . .

      Reply
  53. Lori
    November 25, 2013

    Do not allow anyone to tell you how to grieve. They will tell you to let go and get over it and stop crying it won’t bring them back…etc…DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. I have found that these are the people who have never experienced a tragedy let alone an sudden unexpected tragic death of a loved one. You have to go through the steps of grief in the order that they come to you and resolve them and work through them in the tine that it takes you. Do not gage your grief by the way others grieve as everyone is different. A large regret I have is not putting my for down to my family when certain members took it upon themselves to control aspects of my husband’s death that were quite frankly not their business to handle. My husband’s mother went through all of his belongings and took what she wanted for herself and her husband, then allowed her other son to go threw everything and take what he wanted. Then gave what was left to my kids and I. My children had every right to their fathers belongings and instead of fighting for that I let it go as to not make waves and never cause them any more pain then they already were going through. I know I had the most respectful of intentions and I’m happy to have not upset any of them but my children have nothing of their fathers. The little that was allowed for us to take was clothing…This brings me to my largest regret. My own mother…My mom, not having liked my husband therefore having no love loss with him passing took it upon herself to remove all of his clothing em she could grab before my coming outside to her car and she took it all away. I attempted to grab some shirts out…favorites I bought him or the kids would remember him in but she took it all away. I was able to call her and beg her to not dispose of them as she planned to give it all to charity. (Again…NOT HER PLACE TO DO SO!!!) but as she is a seamstress I begged and pleaded for her to at least do a quilt project with our 2 kids and allow them to select from his clothing special pieces and cut quilting squares out from them and sew blankets so they can always have a special keep sake to feel close to him. They selected their favorite pieces of their daddy’s clothing…she set them aside…and she got rid of all of it. I wish that I was not ands respectful towards her when she took all of his clothing. I wish I would have fought her on it harder and to any means possible. I wish I would have stood up to both mothers…my children’s grandmothers, and demanded his property back and had the balls to put them both in their place so my kids could have some of their daddy’s belongings. In the moment when all I could do was try to get up everyday and keep moving forward comforting my kids, raising them and providing for them…The last thing on my mind was anything material. He had multiple cars. Some specialty mustangs that Kurt kind of “disappeared” on his own family’s side. Our kids would have lived and cherished those and used them as well. I wish I knew to fight for their rights to their daddy’s belongings from theft, thoughtlessness and destruction. I just had so much more on my mind that it hardly registered. If i went back I would have taken it all and locked it up and kept the key hidden away for my kiddos. And every time anyone told me to get over it…I now wish I would have slapped em all. Not to be violent but quite frankly they deserved it. I should have kept the kids and my own needs in front of others nosey rude ways and fought them all. But i wanted to keep peace and never cause any problems for anyone. Now I’m left with regrets for not having a backbone and there is nothing I can do about it.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      Lori, I am so sorry for your loss, and for the pain and regret that has come from the actions of your family. You bring up such an important problem, which is the deep and painful impact of losing someone who your family may not have loved and cared for in the same way that you do. I think this is a more common experience than many people care to talk about. I am so sorry for what you went through with your mom, but I suspect your words and experience may inspire someone else facing similar challenges to stand up for their own wants and needs. This can be so hard when you are grieving and when others have forceful personalities, but it can be so important. I am know you will never be able to get those items back to share with your children, but I hope there is some comfort in the memories you can share with them of your husband.

      Reply
  54. Melody Montgomery
    November 26, 2013

    You do grieve what you never had, children never borne because of cancer.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      This is so true and an under-recognized loss. We can grieve so many futures we will never have, for so many reasons, and this ‘losses’ of things we never had can be extremely devastating. Thanks for mentioning this one, Melody.

      Reply
  55. Tonia
    November 26, 2013

    Thanks for the list. I have had to grieve too many over the last 6 months. My father on May 9, my mother on Oct 3 and my father in law on november 17. I have been up and down so much over these last 6 months. Its true the ones you thought would be there aren’t. It has made me bitter. It has torn at our family. I havnt had time to grieve one before another. My father was unexpected and sudden and was just a huge blow then my mother just 5 months later was slow and painful to watch and was absolutely agonizing then to top it of my father in law was short but drawn out in the 2 1/2 weeks it lasted. I ask the question over and over why. This has truly been the hardest year of my life. My husband and I jokingly say we are orphans now but it feels real. I feel a if my heart my soul and every being of me has been shattered into a million pieces and there is not enough glue or tape to fix it. I know I don’t want to hear it will be alright because it won’t. I want to cry, scream, fight and laugh. I just want you there when I need you there.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      Oh Tonia, that is an unimaginable amount of loss in such a short period. If you haven’t already, it may be helpful to check out our post on cumulative grief. It may give some insight into some of the unique challenges of coping with so many losses. I am sure these holidays will be so tough — wishing you comfort and strength.

      Reply
  56. Jeanne
    November 26, 2013

    another one:

    You will think back on all the wrongs and the hurts. There will be anger. You will survive that too.

    Reply
  57. Michael
    November 27, 2013

    Feel like i’m going crazy but #24 and #40 say that is normal. Does that remain so 7 years after losing 3yo son.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      Michael, sorry for the delay in my reply. The thing about grief is that it ebbs and flows — we can go for months or even years and feel pretty stable, then have something trigger our grief to resurface with a vengeance. It is normal to feel crazy, but if you are concerned about the degree or duration I would strongly encourage you to see a counselor or attend a grief group.

      Reply
  58. Ruth
    November 27, 2013

    Litsa, thank you for all your replies to those who posted about your list.
    You are really thoughtful and kind. I lost a beautiful, smart daughter who was 23 years old, in 1980. That’s 33 years of pain for our family. My husband only survived 10 years after her death, he was devastated by it. He was just 46 when we lost her, (she suffered for many years with epilepsy) but he never got over it. At least he lived long enough to have had a life, but my only consolation about my daughter is that she didn’t have to suffer anymore, and would never have another seizure. Losing a child is indeed the worst thing that can happen to a parent, no matter what their age. My younger brother died at 50, when my mother was 85, and it destroyed her, a very strong woman all her life, but his death just made her fall to pieces and she died a year later…so my life is measured by the deaths in our family. We who survive try to remember the good times not the deaths, that’s all we have, so we cherish the photos and the memories. You never “get over” it…

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      Oh Ruth, I can relate so much to what you say about measuring life in deaths in your family. Period in my life are defined as before or after the loss of certain people. Friends and significant others can be defined by whether they met or did not meet certain important people in my life. I suspect you are right – the best we can do is remember the good times, and treasure each day knowing exactly how precious life is. Thank you so much for sharing your experience here.

      Reply
  59. Kirsten Jackson
    November 27, 2013

    Grief puts you in a club you wish you were not in…but the connection is so strong and so emotional with others who grieve, that you’re thankful for the club at the same time as wanting to escape it!

    Reply
  60. Kirsten Jackson
    November 27, 2013

    P.S. This was painful to read. I had to keep taking breaks. But then I shared it with all my grieving friends. I lost my 41-year-old husband two years ago this month. I want so much to run as far and as fast from the grief as I can…while at the same time acknowledging that I like the woman I’ve become since surviving loss so much better than who I was before. It’s just one contrast after another of resisting and accepting.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      Kristen, I am so sorry that you lost your husband – an so young. . . I think our initial inclination is to run from the grief and the pain. I mean, why would we want to do anything but run from it! But I have no doubt you are right that it can make us stronger, fiercier, and more amazing people than we ever knew we could be. If only we didn’t have to find such pain to grow into the people we become after a death.

      Reply
  61. Nanette
    November 27, 2013

    Not all grief is from death! Betrayal is a loss that you grieve!

    Reply
  62. Abbigail
    November 27, 2013

    *People will say crass and cruel things that devalue how you feel and discredit the deceased as a human being while sanctifying other deceased family members that they valued more.
    *Sometimes you’ll feel like ending your life (I hope not). Just validating that those feelings are in even unlikely people. If this is you, do what I did and find a. Support system.
    *Beware of counselors who are not grief related. My experience, I got diagnosed with all sorts of new Ailments and got pills thrown at me. If your dr is a good dr he will not treat you like you’re crazy. Grief is not a mental illness.
    *Be on your own terms . If you do have to attend potentially uncomfortable family functions beware of triggers. Go in your own vehicle so you not stuck being dependent in someone else’s terms and always map out an escape route. You may need one.

    Reply
  63. Denise
    November 28, 2013

    I was lucky,we were given a time frame, the longest was 2 years , we planned his funeral as a family , he picked it all out, wrote thank yous to the doctors, pallbearers, father and goodbye letters to our kids, they were also involved in all the medical choices, ( my dAd died when ias 16) , we had kids that age so they were involved, he got rid of his things in his time so I didn’t have too ,he made the transition a bit easier for us, however he was burn on Christmas , died at Easter time and our daughters birthday , married around thanksgiving, he nailed them all, I still talk to him very loudly and throw things just in case he’s here and I hit him, lol I get mad at dome things he left for me yo take of yet which is one , we went to our lawyer Nd accountant , to start the process of taking care of things before he died, give yourself the extra day before the funeral it’s easier , I even made the entire funeral lunch , most of the time when people ask is there something we can do let us know , bare in mid they really don’t mean it!!!! Be kind to yourself and find a really good pillow to sleep with ! I wish everyone well wishes on your personal journey !!!!

    Reply
  64. Jo
    November 28, 2013

    A death of a loved one does not prepare you for the death of the next loved one.
    Being in ones life daily leaves a bigger wound to heal and a scar to remember forever.

    Reply
  65. Hilda
    November 30, 2013

    I wish some had told me how it hurts to sleep without your life partner and it breaks your heart when you give the clothes away,

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 3, 2013

      oh, I am so sorry Hilda. Thank you for sharing. I am sure so many people can sadly relate . . .

      Reply
  66. robbin
    December 1, 2013

    I lost the love my life nearly 13 yrs and tho I have accepted that “hes not coming back” and have done my best to continue on with life as much as I can, the pain and sadness still grab me at some point every day!! I still cry……alot!! I do what I have to do but its just always there. He was my heart, my best friend, my rock, my everything. We grew up together, married at 18 and 22, had and raised our babies together, had lots of plans for “when the kids are grown and gone and we hit those golden years”, looked forward to hanging out with our grandchildren,……….unfortunately it was all taken away too soon, the kids were 21 and 24, so we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and “our time” was coming………but cancer took him instead, I was 46 and he had just turned 50, married 28 great years and not a single regret, but been such a struggle since. :-( As for people “comparing” and giving advice that makes you want to run and scream is a given. My “worse” came when about a month after he died, I had just gone back to work……….when a co worker came up to me one morning and said “Well now I really know what you went thru, cause last nite I lost my best friend too”. (She was single, divorced for years, her babies were all dogs and cats which I knew she was very close to) So I said “You lost your best friend last nite? Then why are you here today”? Shes like “Well I am really tired thats for sure but thought it better to come to work and be distracted. My arms are killing me tho cause I spent the whole night, never even went to bed, digging a hole in my backyard, buried him, then showered and came to work”. Well my mouth dropped………I said YOU BURIED YOUR BEST FRIEND IN YOUR BACKYARD”???? Turns out she was talking about her DOG!! I truly wanted to reach out and choke her!! I do get it, I know people do very attached to their animals, but to say you now know how “I” felt………..you are comparing losing your dog to my losing my husband??????? I had to get away from her………..quickly!! :-(

    Reply
  67. Bear
    December 2, 2013

    I drank more beer in the two years following my wife’s death than in the fifteen years before. Nothing prepares you for the death of a spouse.

    Peace~Bear
    Bear recently posted…Pope: allow the Lord to encounter us in preparation for ChristmasMy Profile

    Reply
  68. NavyWidow
    December 3, 2013

    Although I agree with these for the most part some are different when it comes to a child. I lost a husband and a daughter. I find myself on a weekly basis grieving over the things I didn’t get to experience with her.

    I’ve lost more friends since their passing and cut more family out of my life in the last several years because people just don’t get it. I’m never going to reach a point in life where “POOF” I’m better and back to my normal self. That part of me died when they died.

    Reply
    • Sandy
      December 3, 2013

      I totally agree…My prayers are with You…

      Reply
  69. Sandy
    December 3, 2013

    My Husband passed at the age of 44 due to complications from diabetes on Feb. 4th 2011. We were married 23 yrs. and have 3 children. I will never get over losing Him in this life. Our love Story is not over and I believe We will pick up when My time comes to join Him in Heaven. He was My Soul Mate and My Children have said I need to look forward…sorry but I can’t….not now……I can not let go…..I still have all of his things just as they were….His cologne and tooth brush still on His side of the sink….I still watch the video that was made to play at His Funeral….I still need to see Him…just wished I could hear Him say…I Love You…one more time….

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 8, 2013

      Everyone has to grieve in their own way and at their own time. Though I am sure your children just don’t want to see you suffering, the reality is that you have to grieve in the way that works for you. It can be very hard to part with belongings and there is no ‘right time’. Some people cannot bear to look at things and want to get rid of them right away, other people keep things for years. We have some tips and discussion around this topic here: http://whatsyourgrief.com/sorting-through-belongings/

      Videos and photos can be of great comfort and those can be a part of your life forever. In my mind “looking forward” isn’t about one day turning off the past. Instead it is about integrating the past with a new present and a new future — it isn’t about “letting go” so much as finding a way to incorporate the past into a present and future that we can feel positive about. That can take a lot of time, but take it at the pace that is right for you. Seeing a grief counselor or going to a support group can sometimes help with that. Take care this holiday – you’ll be in our thoughts.

      Reply
  70. Carolyn Cochrun
    December 3, 2013

    I wish someone had told me about the physical pain that is felt. I was 19 when my father passed at age 41 and I was sick to my stomach for weeks after. Then when by oldest brother died at 59 and I was 61 I felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. I felt that pain every time I would think about him. It’s been 3 years since we lost my brother and I still feel that pain at times. My mother has never gotten over grieving for my dad or for my brother. Sometimes grief never ends. We just learn to live with it.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      December 8, 2013

      Carolyn, that is a great point about the physical pain. I am surprised others have not mentioned it! That pain is such a common experience, coming in different forms, but effecting so many grievers. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father and brother . . .you are very right that grief never ends.

      Reply
  71. davis
    December 4, 2013

    I’ve got a couple.

    1.
    Members of your immediate family will began to play a strange little game called “I hurt the most. ” It will consume them, and may simply fail to see the grief in others.

    My father moved to CA when my mom passed away. My brother wanted to move into the house, and I was not allowed to stay. I was forced to find a place in a month.

    I felt abandoned and alone. It wasn’t easy, but I had to let it go, it was destroying me.

    2.
    Nothing will ever prepare you for seeing a loved one on a respirator for the very first time. It is extremely mechanical, and was the farthest thing from breathing normal I’ve ever seen.

    Reply
  72. Mel
    December 4, 2013

    This is a great list but I would add that there are people who will become better friends because they really want to help but they don’t always stick around. They move on and their increased friendship was brought on by good intentions but it’s over for them or they don’t know how to handle the grief or new you.

    Reply
  73. Michelle
    December 5, 2013

    Death has no time frame nor does it have an age limit. Guilt accompanies laughter. Let the guilt go.

    Reply
  74. Keri
    December 5, 2013

    Years later, you may have a moment when you forget that person is dead, and you will lose them all over again.

    Reply
  75. Pam
    December 13, 2013

    I would only add that grief is not about death, it is about loss. I lost my mother to cancer and my father to alzheimers. Watching them suffer was one of the worst experiences of my life. My mother’s death was like literally watching the worst horror movie ever made. It is nothing like death is portrayed in the media. It was nasty, smelly, nightmarish; the adjectives fail me. While my father’s actual death was much more peaceful, his life during those final years was disturbing and very painful. I lost him years before he actually died.

    I have breast cancer. As a result, I lost my health, my career, my financial stability, my marriage, my home, many “friends”, my children’s innocence, my ability to mother. I endured amputation of a beloved and important body part; I endured incomprehensible physical pain; I endured significant physical changes; I live with the fear of an excruciating death by a known and monstrous enemy; I lost “me” as I knew her. I cannot really even describe the losses caused by serious illness. I can only tell you that I have had days where I nearly prayed for the cancer to kill me just to avoid more loss and pain. Grief did not destroy me only by God’s grace and mercy.

    So, I say that grief is fundamentally about loss. Deep, permanent, profound loss. There is no comparison between loss because each of us experience losses differently. It is critical that we respect each person’s truth. Respect your own truth. DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU HOW OR WHAT TO FEEL WHEN. They will try. RESIST. Own your truth.

    Reply
  76. Marg in Mirror, AB
    December 14, 2013

    Read the list, but not all the comments so apologies if someone has already mentioned this:

    Not only should you “debrief” after care-giving but also during care-giving. I took care of my late husband for 10 years before he died. Eventually a weekend away every 3-4 months wasn’t enough, but it was better than never taking time away.

    Also, with every new loss, the old ones rise up in memory.

    Eventually you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and embrace joy again — because joy is possible — eventually. It may take some time, and every one has a different experience, but it will come…if you allow it.

    Recovering joy in your life is not a bad thing.
    Marg in Mirror, AB recently posted…Friday so Soon?My Profile

    Reply
  77. WendyWoo
    December 16, 2013

    1) Whatever you are feeling is right for you to feel – trust yourself.

    2) If you find you can’t picture their face, don’t panic – that ability will return when to do so is not so painful.

    3) Religious faith can also be strengthened by loss.

    Reply
  78. Paula Dono
    January 1, 2014

    Yes, death brings out the best and the worst in families but I have found that the money, the estate and money brought out the worst in my family. Behaviors I have never seen… I am just glad it is all over and divided but still have some healing because of it.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      January 1, 2014

      I am so sorry- what you experienced in your family is all too common, unfortunately. We have a post about exactly what you describe here: http://whatsyourgrief.com/family-fighting-after-a-death/. Not sure if it would be helpful for you at this point, but I figure it couldn’t hurt to pass along. Wishing you continued healing in the new year.

      Reply
  79. ruth
    January 2, 2014

    Number 21) is not always right as I do regret loving as the pain is so bad. I wish I had never met my husband and had three children as he has left up up the swanney now and I feel that he caused his own cancer by being so highly strung and not dealing with his childhood issues, made him push his limits physically, emotionally and financially in all areas. He has left me now completely devastated to live the same life without him bringing the kids up with no money, a sad mother and a shit future. So, yes, I do at the moment regret loving. All you ‘floaty people get a grip.’ Grief is not pretty.
    ruth recently posted…A Grateful Farewell to 2013My Profile

    Reply
  80. Shannon
    January 2, 2014

    Some people are athiests and are completely not comforted by religous platitudes. I don’t believe i’ll see my dad again or that he is in a better place. Every time someone patted my arm and said they would pray for me I wanted to scream. It is important to be aware of the beliefs of the person who is grieving, otherwise you can end up making that person feel angry, isolated, and even more bereft.

    Reply
  81. Vikki
    January 7, 2014

    I am 57 yrs old, And I the only one left….my brother dropped dead at the age of 56, that will be 2 yrs in Feb,,, to see my family, I go to the cemetery, and see my shadow standing over them…..
    I have not grieved my brothers death,,,he was my only sibling,,,,,now I have this huge hole, an emptiness I can’t fill…I am afraid to cry, so therefore, I haven’t,,,,,
    I have 3 beautiful grown kids, and one grandson,,,they are my world,,,,but. It’s still empty.
    Thanks for hearing me out..

    Reply
    • Litsa
      January 8, 2014

      Oh Vikki, I am so sorry for all the loss you have suffered. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to grieve, even when it is terrifying to let go and feel those painful emotions and tears. There is a well know book called The Empty Room about sibling loss. Though the authors lost her sibling as a child, but the book is absolutely applicable for anyone who has had the devastating loss of a sibling- a loss that isn’t always as acknowledged by society. Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0743201523

      Reply
  82. Djane
    January 9, 2014

    I am a nurse. I do grief counseling, death preparation, and I care for people when they face death. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in my education prepared me for the experience myself. Tears flow at sometimes the most embarrassing times, just from out of the blue, for no apparent reason. No regrets-but I don’t think one ever gets over a great loss. It’s about learning how to deal with it in the comfort of memories and thankfulness.

    Reply
  83. Lisa
    January 9, 2014

    I did not read all the comments, but wanted to add to the list that grief is a good time to be careful of people who, even if you thought they were friends, will try to take advantage of your financial situation. I was offered paltry amounts of money for vehicles and other valuable items by people who claimed to be trying to help out but where essentially counting on me being not in right mind and assuming I needed money quickly. Also not to let too many strangers know you are recently widowed. Unfortunately there are a lot of predatory people out there. Of course I don’t want to eclipse all the wonderful people that will be there to help you if you let them, just to understand that you’re in a vulnerable state of mind, to say the least. It’s good to have a true close friend to run all these issues through since you aren’t thinking straight and won’t be for a while.

    Hang in there, it does hurt a million times more than one can imagine hurting. But you live through (if is never over) changed but still capable of finding peace and happiness. – Lisa

    Reply
  84. Debbie Pellegrini
    January 9, 2014

    Grieving never becomes easier- just “less hard”. Grief doesn’t have a timeline, but for me, memories are what keeps Mom alive. I now see her in my mind when she was healthy and she lives in my heart forever. I passed thru the tunnel of grief, and came out on the other side. So there is hope and comfort in knowing that.

    Reply
  85. Mattie
    January 9, 2014

    As a Daddy’s girl, it was extremely hard to have my Daddy go home when I was only 24. My grief did heal in time but I learned not to push myself. I still miss him and post on his birthday and Father’s Day. When my Mom left I was fifty. I nearly lost my job because even though I thought I was functioning properly I wasn’t. Thank God for a supervisor who knew what was happening and gave me a deadline for my work. Nearly forty years after Daddy and over ten for my Mommy, the grief is different. I don’t mourn like I used to but I miss them still, not just for me, but for my children and grandchildren.

    Reply
  86. Christopher Casey
    January 9, 2014

    This is a wonderful list, and thank you so much for developing it. My only cavil is that, with the exception of #22, there is no real mention about the impact of grief on one’s religious, spiritual or philosophical beliefs, or conversely, the impact of those beliefs on coping with grief itself. I have experienced at least two traumatic losses in my life: my mother died under pretty tragic circumstances and, as a therapist, I lost a client to suicide. In addition to many, many clients I have worked with over the years who were impacted by bereavement, grief and loss issues, I also spent a year as a social work intern in a hospice agency. The latter experience definitely helped to deepen my own understanding of the grieving process. As a result, I believe strongly that this is a period when those Meaning of Life questions hit us smack dab in the middle of our faces and our guts. Personally, my Christian faith, and its implicit belief in a life hereafter and the continuation of our consciousness in a realm beyond this one, has made an enormous difference in how I view the loss of my loved ones, as well as the suffering that has accompanied the twisting arc of my life journey. While it might seem like a quaint notion to some, I truly believe I will eventually encounter family and friends who have passed on when I reach that Other Side (an afterlife conspicuously missing the archaic notion of hell, I should add). Those with a strong religious faith along these or similar lines (such as reincarnation) should feel that it is okay and fine and blessed and amazing to feel solace, comfort and hope because of their faith. And those who remain convinced that our consciousness does not continue after death should feel empowered to say and feel whatever is congruent with their own existential take on life, without feeling pressured to believe something they cannot embrace. The fundamental point I am trying to make here is that when death knocks at our door, it involves more than just dealing with the clinical dimensions of grief and bereavement. It strikes to the existential center of our being, and challenges us to ponder our core philosophical and spiritual stance towards life. So…….I thought something like the following should be added to this list: “My grief might cause me to question or modify my belief system, my spiritual faith, or my philosophy of life. It’s okay if I need to give up part or all of those beliefs as a result. It’s also okay if I cling to those beliefs even more strongly, realizing in the process that, although my beliefs might be shaken to the core, they remain a fundamental part of my being.”

    Reply
    • Eleanor
      January 10, 2014

      Christopher, thank you so much for this addition. It’s funny I was literally just talking to someone about how we really ought to write an individual post on this topic. Thank you for your perspective, I am sure many many many people who find there way to this list are indeed struggling with understanding their faith in the context of profound loss.

      Reply
  87. Nat
    January 15, 2014

    Wow what a list. I have experience all of these. I lost my father 12 years ago, a year after he passed I went away to college and would wake up with nightmares about losing my mother and could not go back to bed. I had a hard time dealing with death and was afraid of dying. I took a death and dying course in university that helped with this. I think it’s normal to get these anxieties after the death of a loved one.

    Reply
  88. Stacy
    January 15, 2014

    Thank you. A million times over for this. I lost my dad a week ago. He was ill and I knew eventually this day was going to come. In his illness I became frustrated easily & thought I had time to say the things I needed to say. When he literally fell at my feet & his heart stopped beating I rolled him over & began to do CPR. Through sobs I begged him to come back. I NEEDED to tell him everything I was so terrible at expressing. He didn’t & I now sit here so angry with myself. I know that he knew I loved him. But I hate myself for not saying it as freely as he did. I lost the only person on this planet who believed in me. I can’t do anything but I want to do everything. I’ve always been a very dedicated & hard worker. I can’t work now. Not even for 5 minutes. I am 29 and never experienced anxiety. I always felt horrible for people who did suffer from it but never knew first hand. Now I feel like I’m going to implode at any given moment. I can’t sit still. I want to rearrange everything in the house and did just that. I keep changing everything for no reason whatsoever. I can’t sleep but I’m so tired. I get hungry but can’t seem to bring the food to my mouth. I feel disabled. I had someone tell me today “why can’t you just get over it” and I shook from head to toe in anger. Don’t you think I want to feel better? Don’t you think I want to sleep? I’m so frustrated & confused by all of this. I’ve never experienced grief. I’ve never experienced something hat is so many things all at once. My heart is beyond repair. I feel like someone cut my feet off at the ankles & switched them onto the other leg & I’m expected to just know how to run a marathon. I’m sorry if this is all just a ramble. But I found some comfort in this list.

    Reply
    • Maggie
      January 16, 2014

      Oh, I so hear you, Stacy; this place where you are is so hard. Decades later, I don’t live there anymore, but I can recall it to mind and remember it as if it were yesterday. I was 23 when my Dad died.

      The country of the orphan is a scary place at first. Later you will discover joys and freedoms here, but first there is this awful feeling that nothing is in the right place, that if I had just done everything even more right than I could have done it, that somehow he wouldn’t have died.

      Just now I hear the rawness of new loss. I remember it as so overwhelming, I couldn’t even look at it for more than a few minutes at a time. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin.

      This part passes. It does. But not quickly. The body recognizes that this can’t go on, and finds other ways to cope. The mind gradually accepts what cannot be undone.

      I have some advice, if you want it – take what you need and leave the rest. Or even, stop reading right here if ‘advice’ is not acceptable just now. I send you my love either way.

      First, if I were you I would go ahead and tell people what’s going on. Something like ‘my Dad died last week, it was sudden, it was traumatic, and I’m a little fragile just now.’ Most people will cut you a break. Some won’t, but they’re usually the ones who wouldn’t cut you a break if your leg got broken right in front of them.

      Later, I suggest you look around for a grief group near you. Local hospice organizations often host them; sometimes they’re even free. In groups of 4-10 or so, they meet weekly for a couple of hours at a time, for 4-10 weeks. It can really help to be able to voice what’s going on for you and to hear in what others say just how much your experiences are similar. It also helps to hear something of what to expect from this grieving process, in real time when you’re going through it.

      So much love and light to you. Most of us do lose our parents, soon or late, easy or hard, and we do get through it somehow. You will too, even if you can’t see how, even when it’s far too early to imagine. So much love and light to you for the journey.

      Reply
  89. Paula
    January 17, 2014

    No One knows the true extent of ‘YOUR PAIN’ . Even if they say ” I know exactly how you feel”

    And people will tell you “Good takes the best” it’s ok if that doesn’t make sense. It’s still hard for me to understand.

    Reading this brought tears and a smile to my face. So many things listed are right on point. I lost my Mother 3 days after her 55th bday. She was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and lost her battle 6 months after her diagnosis. She was my best friend, mother and soul mate. I feel as if the world that I knew is no longer the world I enjoy. But I know she is in a better place with no pain. And MAYBE with time I will learn how to get use to this life without her.

    Reply
    • Paula
      January 17, 2014

      *correction- “God takes the best”

      Reply
    • Eleanor
      January 21, 2014

      Paula, I can relate to your journey as my mother died at 57 from Pancreatic Cancer about a year after she was diagnosed. It is my experience that in time you’ll get used to life with out her, but life will never be the same.

      Reply
  90. Elle
    January 26, 2014

    People wind up saying things that you just cannot believe they would say when you are already dealing with such terrible pain. It takes extraordinary grace to navigate it all.

    Reply
  91. Rebecka Allen
    February 1, 2014

    I found that the birthdays, anniversarys, and holidays were tough. I expected them to be, and they were. What no one told me was that the celebrations would be even worse. I steeled myself for the known dates, knowing they were coming up. The celebrations blind sided me; I hadn’t prepared for them. When my son became an Eagle Scout, the pain of his dad not being beside me on such a proud day brought me to my knees. I wasn’t prepared for that.

    Reply
  92. Kim
    February 7, 2014

    Thank you so much for this post. It has been 5 1/2 years since my husband passed and I am just now seeking professional help so that I can move on with my life. # 58 “You don’t get over it, you just get used to it” hit me hard. I think this is what I have really been struggling with. The idea that i’ll never be over it…and that’s ok!

    Thank you again

    Reply
  93. Debbie
    February 15, 2014

    My mother was recently diagnosed with a very rare disease (Stiff Person Syndrome) died Feb 5, 2014. She fell in her home and died instantly although not discovered until the next day. I’m very raw and vulnerable right now, very much a zombie and riddled with guilt of “wish I did more” or of our last conversation which occurred 4 hours before she passed, “wished we talked longer.” This site is very comforting to me. Bless you as it’s helpful to read other’s stories. I cry every day and its seems so unfathinable that we won’t talk again. We talked almost every day and she was my best friend too.So glad that I listened to her complaints…….grateful that I got to a place of compassion. I even included her in our 2014 “Happy New Year” card. Strangely, I knew 2014 would be the year of her passing.

    Dumb things people say need to watch this video. I sent to my Hall of Shamer, good friend for worst comments. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

    It’s called sympathy vs empathy on youtube. Provides a cartoon visual w explanation. It’s brilliant. The sympathizers start with “at least she didn’t (insert unhelpful comment). I have to laugh and say “they only know what they know and venture elsewhere (like here) for guidance.

    Bless each and every one of you. Truly, I had NO IDEA how painful until Feb 5.

    Reply
    • Eleanor
      February 16, 2014

      Debbie,

      I’m sorry about your mother’s death. I’m very sorry for your pain, the guilt is tough and it sucks to live with any amount of it. That video you linked to was fan-tastic! I loved it, so well put. Thanks for sharing and I hope you don’t mind if we re-share =).

      Eleanor

      Reply
  94. narya
    February 18, 2014

    “45. The practice of sending thank you notes after a funeral is a cruel and unusual tradition.”

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this. I finished mine a few weeks ago and it was one of the most torturous, exhausting, agony-ridden experiences of my life, second only to the death & funeral of my dear dad.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      February 19, 2014

      Narya, I am so sorry about the loss of your dad. Glad you found our little corner of the internet. I suspect lots of people think #45 is a crazy tradition, but like so much about grief and tradition, no one wants to talk about, leaving people stuck writing thank you notes during the worst weeks of their life. Cards may work for some, but it should be a choice, not an obligation!

      Reply
    • Petal
      March 18, 2014

      it helped me to send thank you notes

      the only real long term problem is that GRIEF and BEREAVEMENT lasts alot longer than sympathy.

      xo

      Reply
  95. Goher
    February 25, 2014

    I m an adult man now Its very hard for me to believe some one is gone, My Grand mother died when i was 16, i didnt cry a single tear then few year back my friend a good and a close friend died coz of a road accident still my situation was same, then few months back my uncle died in front of me at the hospital, i went to hospital thinking he is discharging but he had his last breath right in front of me i stood helplessly watching him struggling awfully to breath, I really pray he should just die at that moment and he passed away in few moments after the thought i just had. and i was the only one who was crying standing, Then all of a sudden i stopped. I have many regrets for no reason. That event memories still very disturbing for me.

    Reply
  96. Peggy
    February 26, 2014

    I am crushed, I am broken, I lost my dad last year and my husband this past Nov…….the two most important men in my life. I was so devastated when I lost my dad I could not imagine anything more painful other than maybe losing a child but then the unexpected happened. I lost my husband of 41 years, my childhood crush, the boy next door. I always thought he would live to be at least 80 because he was such an easy going guy. A few days before his 62 birthday we were told he had only a few mths. It is over and I am still in shock over the diagnosis. The thing that smacked me in the face was when I had to go over some paper work and there it was…….the marriage ended due to death. I know that even in our vows we say till death do us part………but my marriage never ended…..he was just taken from me….and I feel so lost……think I always will….thank you for your list…..

    Reply
    • Eleanor
      February 26, 2014

      Oh Peggy, I’m so sorry about both of these losses. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to read that your marriage was ended due to death because he will always be your husband and you will always love him. Your comment reminds me of this recent post on the ‘Continuing Bonds Theory’. I’m not sure, but maybe it will be helpful. The theory says that when a loved one dies you slowly find ways to adjust and redefine your relationship with that person, allowing for a continued bond with that person that will endure, in different ways and to varying degrees, throughout your life.

      http://whatsyourgrief.com/continuing-bonds-shifting-the-grief-paradigm/

      Reply
  97. Bonnie Kerr
    March 3, 2014

    Grief begins before the actual physical death/loss of the loved one.

    Reply
  98. Kay
    March 8, 2014

    how badly your heart aches after you lose a loved one. I understood first hand the meaning of a “broken heart”

    Reply
  99. Liz
    March 8, 2014

    Some days I feel like I’m losing my mind. It’s only 15 weeks since my soulmate of 20 years died suddenly. I still keep begging him to come back to me even though I know that’s impossible. I feel like I don’t “belong” anymore as half of me is gone.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      March 9, 2014

      Liz, I am so sorry. Please know the way you are feeling is very common, even though it makes you feel like you are going crazy – we have a post about that very topic! http://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-makes-you-crazy/

      I would recommend the book “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion if you haven’t read it. It is her memoir about the year after her husband’s death. Her ‘magical thinking’ is the many ways that she believed and hoped her husband would come back to her. http://www.amazon.com/Year-Magical-Thinking-Joan-Didion/dp/1400078431

      I hope you find some comfort and support in other posts on our site that may help you during this impossible time . . .

      Reply
  100. nick buckeridge
    March 9, 2014

    I just wish that me and my wife had left a letter to each other so who ever went first the other person could read and treasure those words for ever.my wife passed away on march 29th 2013. so so lost without her.love you kim. forever in my thoughts. NICK.

    Reply
  101. Donna Deponeo
    March 9, 2014

    I agree with all of your points. I would just add that losing a pet can cause as much grief as losing a human, particularly if you do not have a husband or children. I was a caregiver to my cat Bonnet for 3 months before I had to make the “decision.” Nine weeks later my other cat has been diagnosed with either IBD or small cell lymphoma. In between that time I adopted a wonderful kitten. I had him for four months before he developed “Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).” He was started feeling poorly on the Sunday and was gone I the Thursday. Many people think my grief is not valid because they were pets. But so many of your 64 points resonated with me.

    Reply
    • Litsa
      March 9, 2014

      Donna, this is such a great point. Pets can become like members of our family and the grief that comes with the loss of a pet is very real and extremely painful. I am so sorry for that you have had so much loss in such a short period, and you are so right that others often don’t recognize pet loss as a valid loss. We have another post that may interest you on disenfranchised grief, which is about just that – dealing with losses that society doesn’t acknowledge. You can find it here: http://whatsyourgrief.com/disenfranchised-grief/

      Reply
  102. Matilda Morgan
    March 12, 2014

    I am Mrs Matilda Morgan from USA, i want to share a testimony of my life to every one. i was married to my husband George Morgan, i love him so much we have been married for 5 years now with two kids. when he went for a vacation to France he meant a lady called Clara, he told me that he is no longer interested in the marriage. i was so confuse and seeking for help, i don’t know what to do until I met my friend miss Florida and told her about my problem. she told me not to worry about it that she had a similar problem before and introduce me to a man called DR OKOGBO who cast a spell on her ex and bring him back to her after 3days. Miss Florida ask me to contact DR OKOGBO. I contacted him to help me bring back my husband and he ask me not to worry about it that the gods of his fore-fathers will fight for me. He told me by three days he will re-unite me and my husband together. After three day my husband called and told me he is coming back to sought out things with me, I was surprise when I saw him and he started crying for forgiveness. Right now I am the happiest woman on earth for what this great spell caster did for me and my husband, you can contact DR OKOGBO on any problem in this world, he is very nice, here is his contact (dr.okogbolovespell@gmail.com). He is the best spell caster.

    Reply
    • Carolyn Cochrun
      March 12, 2014

      I’m sorry for you as I wouldn’t want to force anyone to come back to me with a spell of any kind. If he leaves of his own will he would need to return of his own will. Casting spells is a very dangerous thing to be involved in as it comes from the dark side. Jesus never cast a spell on anyone. Only the enemy of God would do this awful thing. Do I believe these things are real, yes I do but they are not of God, they are of God’s enemy Satan and I would run as far from it as I could run. I’d rather be alone than to be with someone that a spell was used on to get them to come back to me. How happy can you either really be knowing this has happened. Best of luck to you and I pray you see the light of the Lord very soon.

      Reply
  103. Christina
    March 14, 2014

    One of the hardest things that I am facing since my mom died two weeks ago are: Thinking that my husband would be there for me, and then finding out that he doesn’t want to be there for me. Making things 100% more worse. not having moral support at home is the hardest thing for me right now. Not being able to express my feelings to him without him being rude and judgmental. He thinks it should be a walk in the park, but its not. He has never lost a parent not alone planned a funeral. I wish I had a good person to go for comfort and to have the heal process go more smoothly. Its not like it takes one day to grieve and move on, it takes several months to years.
    Has anyone else had this problem?

    Reply
  104. Sharon
    March 14, 2014

    I would add to have someone take a picture of your loved one in the casket. You can always throw it away but you can never get another.

    I totallyagree with the difficulty of writing thank you notes. It took me 6 months to get it done.

    If you can’t afford a headstone, it’s ok. You know where your loved one is.

    Reply
  105. Mon
    March 14, 2014

    On 12/3/2013, I lost my husband of 9 years very suddenly. He was only 32. We have an 8 year old daughter. All the emotions I went thru made me feel like I was going crazy. A co-worker of mine, who lost her husband to suicide in Aug. 2013, gave me a copy of this article. I’ve read it several times and it makes me feel not so crazy and alone.

    I never would have dreamed how hard it would be to simply check the “widow” box on paperwork. I shouldn’t be a widow at the age of 29. It took every ounce of strength I had not to break down in the dr’s office that day. Serious reality check for me!

    We are in the process of moving so I’ve pretty much been forced to go thru all my husband’s possessions. I’ve been trying my best to prepare for this, but in all reality, it’s just not possible.

    I’ve had the opportunity to share this article with another co-worker (lost 2 sisters within 4 months) and a sister-in-law (lost her husband about 3 weeks ago). I greatly appreciate everything ya’ll put out on here! It helps out more than you know.

    Reply
  106. Faith
    March 16, 2014

    It has been 16 years since my husband Matthew passed at the age of 38. When it occurred, I immediately immersed myself in work, various activities, moved and started a new relationship within six months. While I am happy with my current life, I wish I had taken the time to stop, grieve and think before I leaped into new home and new relationship so soon. Monday, March 17 would have been our 24th wedding anniversary. There isn’t a day I don’t think about him.

    Reply
  107. Lisa
    March 16, 2014

    I would add that you sometimes start thinking of things in terms of “that was before xxx passed away” or “that was after xxx passed away”. I will remember an event or see a photograph and think, my brother was still alive then, or this was after he died…

    Reply
  108. Malina
    March 18, 2014

    My name is Malina, from United Kingdom. I wish to
    share my testimony with the general public about
    what this temple called (the angels of solution) have done for
    me, this temple have just brought back my lost ex
    lover to me with their great spell work, I was dating this man called Steven we were together for a long
    time and we loved our self’s but when I was unable
    to give him a male child for 5 years he left me and told
    me he can’t continue anymore then I was now
    looking for ways to get him back and also get pregnant, until a friend of
    mine told me about this temple and gave me their contact
    email, then you won’t believe this when I contacted
    them on my problems they prepared the items and cast the spell for me
    and bring my lost husband back, and after a month I
    missed my monthly flow and go for a test and the result
    stated that i was pregnant, am happy today am a mother of
    a set of twins a boy and a girl, i thank the temple once again for what they have done for me, if you are
    out there passing through any of this problems
    listed below:
    (1) If you want your ex back
    (2) if you always have bad dreams.
    (3) You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4) You want women/men to run after you.
    (5) If you want a child.
    (6) You want to be rich.
    (7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be
    yours forever.
    (8) If you need financial assistance.
    (9) Herbal care
    (10) If you can’t be able to satisfy your wife
    sex desire due or
    low err action.
    (11) if your menstruation refuse to come
    out the day it
    suppose or over flows.
    (12) if your work refuse to pay you, people
    owing you?.
    (13) solve a land issue and get it back.
    (14) Did your family Denny you of your
    right?
    (15) Let people obey my words and do my
    wish
    (16) Do you have a low sperm count?
    (17) Case solve E.T.C
    Contact them on their email on theangelsofsolution@gmail.com
    And get all your problems solved
    Thank you.

    Reply
  109. abby's dad
    March 22, 2014

    Your personal relationship with the person you lost was different than anyone else’s personal relationship with the person you lost, your grief will be also. You do not have to “share” in your grief with anyone. It is personal, and intimate. Just as your relationship was.

    Reply
  110. Amanda
    March 29, 2014

    You feel the passage of time most acutely when you lose someone you love.

    Reply
  111. Aurora
    April 1, 2014

    Funerals are for the living and not worth a family feud over what the deceased “would have wanted”. A one or two hour service is not “how he/she will be remembered”

    Reply
  112. Elaine
    April 7, 2014

    I lost my mother 3yaers ago .Time doesn’t heal the pain. You never get use to the pain. You become a recluse. You will go through the rest of your life pretending. Nothing makes it better. No amount of talking to a therapist helps. You pretend to live life. You pretend to be a wife you pretend to be a mother you pretend to be a sister, friend………….

    Reply
  113. Kathy
    April 9, 2014

    #30…”the last moments of their life will play over and over in your mind.” God help me, I cannot get that picture out of my head. It IS NOT like they show on tv…it was awful. All I could do was stare at him in disbelief. I wanted to grab him (my husband) and say “stop this.” I wasn’t even sure what was going on. But it didn’t seem peaceful to me. I have visions of it all the time. I wonder if this is PTSD? We were trying to be positive and hopeful in a hopeless situation…utter denial, probably… The last thing I said to him was, “You’re not going anywhere, it’s just your body.” I wish I had said, “I love you” instead. I didn’t want him to be afraid throughout his experience with disease and dying. I wish we had spent more time talking about “what if”. I don’t know… I just hate that there is no closure and never will be. I half expected him to “visit” me as a spirit and tell me “what to do” now. I had felt like my dad was so close to me after he died (22 years ago). I felt closure with my mom, like I had settled things with her and loved her. But I am getting NOTHING from my husband since his death and I fee abandoned by it.

    Reply
  114. Lulu
    April 10, 2014

    Happening to me

    He places his palms on my face says you’re doing great!
    Staring at me with those beautiful puppy eyes of his.

    Scratches my tear with his fingernail, slow like a trail.
    Releases the responsibility of what is Happening to me.

    Tears honor a strong emotion. The fuel my body discharges
    keeps me mobile. Beautiful devotion.

    Real strength dose are the traces he follows,
    in the tip of my tears which flow in his fingers.

    Heals the unbearable pain while seeing those eyes fade away.
    Pauses the cage bereavement stage until the next day.

    Lulu
    Dedicated to Jeff Muller 12/12

    Reply
  115. Ashley
    April 12, 2014

    Although this isn’t for the person grieving, but more towards those that try to help, I wish people would quit saying sorry. I don’t know who started it, but you hear it person after person when standing by a casket while people file past you. It’s always “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “I know exactly how you feel.” Majority of people have lost a loved one, but that doesn’t mean you know exactly how I feel. Every love, every relationship, and every person are different. We handle things differently, we see things differently. At almost every funeral I’ve had to plan and attend I hide out. Away from all of our so called friends with their apologies and concerns. I know they’re trying to help, but saying you’re sorry doesn’t fix anything and it definitely doesn’t make the person grieving feel better.

    Reply
    • Carolyn Cochrun
      April 12, 2014

      I was wondering , what would you suggest that people say to the ones dealing with this type of loss? I was 19 when my dad passed away and I personally appreciated the Sorry’s cause I knew at least they tried to understand and were trying to do what they could which is obviously not much of anything to help. I don’t know what to say at times like that and I’m sorry for your loss sounds the nicest to let them know I care and I feel for you. I also include that “if you need to talk or blow off steam, please call me I’m here for you any time.” That’s what I do for my friends. I’m always available to talk to just be a sounding board for anything. They all know that but I tell them just to remind them. I really would like to know what you think would be a more correct thing to say. I would like to tell folks on my page a more appropriate thing to say at those tough times. Thank you.

      Reply
  116. Lulu
    April 15, 2014

    April 12th marks the fourth month of the passing of the man I spend a brief time with. It was a wonderful relationship as new relationships usually are. Being with him even if it was a short time was wonderful. And his death turned my life upside down in ways I would have never imagined. All the beautiful emotions are left inside with no one to share them with. Felt as if I was left standing in a dark hole. I blink my eyes and he was gone. So many plans left undone. So much pain left inside.

    Every twelve of the month I release a single balloon with a note attached. April brought a Silver Star balloon. It was a windy day in Los Angeles and the sunset rays hit the balloon as it flew up high. It felt soothing it was peaceful, help release some pain.

    I would add HOPE to the list if it’s not added. H=Hold O=On P=Pain E=ends

    Silver Star

    A silver star balloon was April’s pick
    I stamped my kiss, tied my warm note
    set it free on a sunny windy day
    to commemorate your memory.

    The rays of the sunset shinned the
    balloon as it went up high heading
    east. I could see it glow like two
    little eyes blinking goodbye.

    It was soothing to heart to see it
    fly! See it free! Dancing with the wind.
    Heading east as I use to be, it knew
    exactly where you lived.

    Lulu
    Dedicated to Jeff Muller 12/12

    Reply

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