You know we love a good 64-things-about-grief list around here. We have tons of them, on so many topics, often crowdsourced from tens of thousands of WYG readers and social media followers. Sometimes we plan them and sometimes they find us. Though you might think we planned for a list of grief lessons, this list found us.
How, you ask? I posted this image on social media the other day.
I realized almost immediately, as responses started pouring in, that we had a new 64 things list on our hands. By the day's end people had shared nearly 200 of their hardest grief lessons - big and small. Lest these grief lessons disappear forever in the history of facebook and instagram comments, we've compiled 64 of the most common grief lessons shared with us, anonymized and in no particular order.
Grief taught me . . .
- We have to choose every day, to see the positive to be grateful for all we had and what we lost and how loved we were.
- That the world continues to move forward around you, and that is okay. You can still find ways to honour the dead in your life. We don't have to move forward as if our grief isn't valid or doesn't exist. We can learn to move forward with our grief and maintaining a new relationship with the dead.
- I've found during my 3 months of grieving for my husband that I'm alone once again and I don't want to be alone. Having to accept that is the hardest lesson I've learned so far.
- The hardest lesson was the memory loss, lack of concentration and the depression.
- I realised that after losing my mum when I was a young child, I subconsciously kept myself small and isolated, didn’t allow myself to dream or aspire to things in life cause the chance of losing them would be too hard to bear. I have wasted a lot of time and dreams like that. Now I see it I can change it. I’m now excited about a different future.
- The amount of time for grieving is always! You just do the best you can.
- After losing my teenage son to a rare disease he developed in childhood, that the friends and family you thought would always be around, pack up and leave and never look back because you losing a child makes them sad! That part has burned deep.
- I was not prepared for the "secondary losses" of living friends and family members who distanced themselves.
- I have learned that grief and joy can co-exist.
- After losing my teenage daughter to leukemia, I learned to take life slowly to cope with the unexpected loss. Slowly at first was an hour at a time. Life is fragile. I’m grateful to those who have reached out to me without me asking.
- I can still laugh at a joke and smile at a child; nonetheless, the concept that somehow what happened to my son will be "justified" or 'okay" is utter BS.
- I've learned that there are some losses I will never stop grieving.
- I was surprised at how many life options are still open and wonderful. I miss him but there ARE awesome life choices and possibilities still all around.
- One of the hardest grief lessons I’ve learned is that not everyone grieves the same.
- The hardest lesson I have learned is how much survivor's guilt comes with continuing to live.
- I learned that the real challenge is to simply to go on & do something positive with your new life. Minute by minute you can carve out joy & purpose. Start by doing for others.
- The hardest grief lesson I've learned is that my life would be so completely different after my teenage son died. The changes aren’t all bad, my life just feels so unfamiliar sometimes.
- That life goes on.
- I have learned you need to take the new landscape in your own time and in your own way.
- I have learned it is such a struggle to have ‘fun’ & be ‘happy’...have some elements of ‘joy’ now & again...but it’s hard to fake ‘happy’.
- There's no timeline and certainly no right or wrong way to grieve. Your loss is tremendous. You're doing great just to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Keep talking about them. Keep remembering the joy they brought. You have a gift to share...just as they did.
- Someone said to me once there is no getting over it; you just learn to live with it.
- I remember that the loss equals the love, that helps me when I feel low.
- I've learned that every loss is different and many people don't want to be around someone who is grieving.
- The hardest grief lesson I have learned is that to carry on is hard, but we need to create a new normal.
- I've learned that I have to go on living without my Mom. I knew one day she would be gone but I really had NO idea how hard it would be.
- I've had to learn how to be parentless at 22 and having to face and figure out a whole lifetime without them. It still feels unreal.
- I struggle to accept that good things will continue to happen for me in this life even after the most devastating tragedy changed it.
- That love continues after death and that my son is still teaching me how to live even though he is no longer here in his earthly body.
- That sometimes a family falls apart and becomes a crap storm after a loss.
- Even though a family has all experienced the same loss, family members sometimes have no clue how to connect with each other.
- At the moment I’m struggling with how normal life has become without them. That work and kids still carry on, I carry on. Then I question myself, second guess myself. Should I feel normal about this?
- One of the hardest grief lessons I've learned is that death is as close as a breath. One exhale could be our last.
- The tragedy of what happened will never go away, I will only move forward. It will forever be there.
- My life after the loss is a worthy life, a purposed filled life. But it will never ever be my best life. Never!
- That I have to forgive those who abandoned me in order to walk this healing journey.
- I have to forgive myself for not being able to save my baby. I did my best.
- I've learned that little moments count and forgiveness and love should always be on your lips.
- The hardest lesson in grief was realising that some people have helped me in my hardest days for their own agenda. They think because I’m grieving they can rule over me, like I’m constantly the weak one and they are strong. But that is not true. I’m stronger because of this grief. Stronger than they will ever know.
- The hardest grief lesson I have learned is that grief is not just one thing, it comes in many forms.
- I have learned that grief takes time and everyone is on their own time frame.
- The hardest thing for me to learn was that I could be happy again and that I can believe in something after all.
- I've learned it's ok to cry...and cry again, never apologize!!
- The hardest lesson I have learned is how to cope with regret - of the missed and wasted opportunities that come after the loss.
- The hardest lesson I have learned is that grief means not feeling like myself anymore.
- It has been hardest for me to learn that there will forever be unfulfilled dreams.
- I have learned that the things that used to matter don't matter anymore and that is okay.
- The hardest lesson to learn is how to put up with people saying stupid or hurtful things.
- That being lonely has nothing to do with being alone. I still have lots of family and friends, but I am still so lonely for my husband who died.
- I've learned that losing my son feels like I've lost my past, my present---and my future.
- It has been very hard to learn to hold in my heart both my gratefulness of having had her, and my fury that a long & full life was stolen from her.
- I have learned that "family" changes as they don't know grief. New relationships grow .....when we are open.
- I have learned it is refreshing, once you get a little energy, to make new friends who sometimes are closer than family. They accept you who you are now rather than hoping you'll be the old you. It will get better. Be open to old friends feeling uncomfortable and new ones unaware.
- Early in my grief I focused on how my child's death was more than anyone could imagine, thinking only other people who could understand were those who also lost children. One of the hardest grief lessons was learning that no one could understand, even those who had also lost children. But the bright side was learning that, since no one could understand, I should stop hoping for that. I learned I could find support from people with all sorts of grief - widows and children who lost parents and even parents whose children were still living but had addictions. It took me 3.5 years to learn that.
- I learned that the more I share my miscarriage, the more I learn I am not nearly as alone in this type of loss as I thought. I had to start telling people in order to learn this, and that was the hardest part.
- There are so many hard grief lessons. The hardest was learning I could part with places and things but keep the memories. Selling our home felt like I was losing my husband a second time, but I survived. And he still feels close.
- Therapists can be absolutely wonderful or absolutely terrible depending on whether they actually understand grief. Thankfully I finally found a good one.
- It isn't my job to be strong.
- When you're grieving, you become a reminder to other people of their greatest fear. They don’t want to admit that what happened to us is one stopped heartbeat away from being them.
- Even support groups for parents who have lost children will sometimes judge you and your child if your child died by an overdose or a suicide and not cancer or an accident.
- If I didn't make an effort to talk about him, other people would stop talking about him.
- Grief is seen as embarrassing and weak. So few people understand that time, gentleness, and kindness, are the things that should be offered to the bereaved.
- The secondary losses are huge: identity, purpose, drive and motivation, memory, comprehension, strength, community, etc.
- That EVERYTHING has changed forever.
Keep the grief lessons list going . . . add your hardest grief lesson in the comments below.
We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.
We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: