Back in October, I wrote a post of 64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief. I wrote it on a whim when I was having some writer's block, and never in a million years did we expect the response we got to that post.
Nearly 90,000 people have read it, and hundreds of people have left comments. You thanked us for the list, you shared what resonated with you, you told us where you disagreed, and you told us what you would add to the list.
With the many suggestions embedded in those comments, it only made sense we continue the list using all the great things that you—our fabulous readers—wish someone had told you about grief... because even though sixty-four things sounds like a lot, when it comes to understanding grief, it barely scratches the surface.
If you missed the first list, make sure you check it out here before you jump into this one. Otherwise, here we go: 64 MORE Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief, with all the credit to our wonderful readers who submitted each and every one of these:
1. Death doesn’t just happen to other people.
2. The world goes on. Even when you are half insane from grief, bills still need to be paid. Even when you feel like you swallowed a hand grenade, you still have to balance a checkbook.
3. Grief does not only happen when a person dies but accompanies any loss. It is felt when you are estranged from family members or friends, lose a job, lose a pet, lose your independence, get divorced, and countless other things.
5. You are the only one who can say how you should feel.
6. Grief can make it terrifying to get close to people, for fear of losing them.
7. It is especially devastating when you lose the person who supported you through other losses.
9. 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. It may bring up old wounds, regrets, and ‘unfinished business’.
11. Remember that the brain is wired to be biased toward negative thoughts and memory recall. If possible, take the time to reflect upon and remember the positive.
12. It is okay to be angry that people say stupid things, but remember they showed up to show their support for you and their respect for the deceased. Remember that, not the stupid comments if you can.
13. 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 or you have to go WITH it.
14. When it comes to grief, there are no rules.
16. “Why?” and “What if…?” are unanswerable. The trick is to figure out how to live without the answers.
17. 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.
18. 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.
20. You will forget – things about them, or them all together for a moment – and this will bring a new style of guilt. You will remember them in unexpected ways.
21. It’s okay to live, laugh, and love—yes, guilt-free.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. Death can be emergent. Sometimes you only get that one moment to say goodbye or hear goodbye.
27. Some people don’t know what to 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.
28. 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.
30. Losing someone you love is like an amputation: No matter how well you learn to get around, you will never be the same. You don’t ‘get over’ it, you just adjust.
31. ’Cut yourself some slack’ and take solace where you find it.
32. Have someone take a picture of your loved one in the casket. You can always throw it away but you can never get another.
33. The person grieving may have never had such a loss before, and they themselves may say ignorant things.
34. Every death is sudden.
37. When someone dies from suicide, sometimes people do not express sympathies. Sometimes they don’t say anything at all. All grief should be acknowledged, regardless of how the death occurred.
39. Suicide loss can be extremely traumatic. The shock and denial make it difficult to begin truly grieving.
40. Grief can make you push people away.
41. The term closure is not helpful. Bank accounts are closed, windows are closed, but the love we carry for those closest to us never closes.
42. Grief is a good time to be careful of people who, even if you think they are friends, may try to take advantage of your financial situation.
45. Don’t throw away the deceased’s personal possessions too soon or too quickly. Later you may find that you actually wanted to save more than you thought.
46. Let somebody else do the driving, at least for a few days.
47. It DOES get better. Slower than we wish, but it does.
48. For many people grief is cumulative. Each subsequent death of a person important to us is amplified by the grief we experienced over those who predeceased them.
49. 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.
50. Do not allow anyone to tell you how to grieve.
53. It is a tragic reality that sometimes you measure life in the deaths that have occurred or think of life as what happened before the death and what happened after the death.
54. 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!
55. You may feel like ending your life. If this is you, do what I did and find a support system. If you need suicide support, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-8255.
56. Beware of counselors who are not grief related. If your doctor is a good doctor, he will not treat you like you’re crazy.
57. 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 are not stuck being dependent on someone else’s terms and always map out an escape route. You may need one.
58. Be kind to yourself and find a really good pillow to sleep with!
59. The death of a loved one does not prepare you for the death of the next loved one.
61. People may play a strange little game called “I hurt the most.” It will consume them, and they may simply fail to see the grief in others.
62. Nothing will prepare you for seeing a loved one on a respirator for the first time.
63. Years later, you may have a moment when you forget that person is dead—and you will lose them all over again.
64. Grief lasts a lot longer than sympathy.
Though this puts us at 128 things, I am still we have still missed plenty. Leave a comment to let us know what you think and if there are things you would add. And don't forget to subscribe to get our posts right to your inbox!
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: