The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving

tears

“How long has it been? When is he going to get over that grief and move on already?”

I get it.

I know you might be thinking that about me or about someone else these days.

I know you may look at someone you know in mourning and wonder when they’ll snap out of it.

I understand because I use to think that way too.

Okay, maybe at the time I was self-aware enough or guilty enough not to think it quite that explicitly, even in my own head. It might have come in the form of a growing impatience toward someone in mourning or a gradual dismissing of their sadness over time or maybe in my intentionally avoiding them as the days passed. It was subtle to be sure, but I can distinctly remember reaching the place where my compassion for grieving friends had reached its capacity—and it was long before they stopped hurting.

Back then like most people, my mind was operating under the faulty assumption that grief had some predictable expiration date; a reasonable period of time after which recovery and normalcy would come and the person would return to life as it was before, albeit with some minor adjustments.

I thought all these things, until I grieved.

I never think these things anymore.

Two years ago I remember sitting with a dear friend at a coffee shop table in the aftermath of my father’s sudden passing. In response to my quivering voice and my tear-weary eyes and my obvious shell shock, she assured me that this debilitating sadness; this ironic combination of searing pain and complete numbness was going to give me a layer of compassion for hurting people that I’d never had before. It was an understanding, she said, that I simply couldn’t have had without walking through the Grief Valley. She was right, though I would have gladly acquired this empathy in a million other ways.

Since that day I’ve realized that Grief doesn’t just visit you for a horrible, yet temporary holiday. It moves in, puts down roots—and it never leaves. Yes as time passes, eventually the tidal waves subside for longer periods, but they inevitably come crashing in again without notice, when you are least prepared. With no warning they devastate the landscape of your heart all over again, leaving you bruised and breathless and needing to rebuild once more.

Grief brings humility as a housewarming gift and doesn’t care whether you want it or not.

You are forced to face your inability to do anything but feel it all and fall apart. It’s incredibly difficult in those quiet moments, when you realize so long after the loss that you’re still not the same person you used to be; that this chronic soul injury just won’t heal up. This is tough medicine to take, but more difficult still, is coming to feel quite sure that you’ll never be that person again. It’s humbling to know you’ve been internally altered: Death has interrupted your plans, served your relationships, and rewritten the script for you.

And strangely (or perhaps quite understandably) those acute attacks of despair are the very moments when I feel closest to my father, as if the pain somehow allows me to remove the space and time which separates us and I can press my head against his chest and hear his heartbeat once more. These tragic times are somehow oddly comforting even as they kick you in the gut.

And it is this odd healing sadness which I’ll carry for the remainder of my days; that nexus between total devastation and gradual restoration. It is the way your love outlives your loved one.

I’ve walked enough of this road to realize that it is my road now. This is not just a momentary detour, it’s the permanent state of affairs. I will have many good days and many moments of gratitude and times of welcome respite, but I’m never fully getting over this loss.

This is the cost of sharing your life with someone worth missing.

Two years into my walk in the Valley I’ve resigned myself to the truth that this a lifetime sentence. At the end of my time here on the planet, I will either be reunited with my father in some glorious mystery, or simply reach my last day of mourning his loss.

Either way I’m beginning to rest in the simple truth:

The day I’ll stop grieving—is the day I stop breathing.

 

 

347 thoughts on “The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving

  1. Pingback: The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving | oshriradhekrishnabole

  2. Does your tradition avoid Ecclesiastes? Job? Psalm 23?

    If you’ve never read those parts of the books of the Bible, go and read them. I’ve known this for my entire life.

    • While your statement is true, it is also true that you can’t know something by studying it like you can know something by living it.

      • Gary, I hope you don’t mind if I borrow this quote on occasion. If I use it online, I’d like to cite you as the author. It says a lot about grief and many things in life, including faith.

      • I wrote this after my husband died. It was a reaction to comments people were making that I couldn’t bear:

        REWARD
        I’d like to give a million,
        billion,
        trillion
        dollar reward
        to the very next person
        who can prove that he or she
        actually gave a widow solace with words or advice like:
        “I guess God needed him.”, (I need him more.)
        “You are taking it so well.” (I’ve fooled you too.)
        “You look so good. Nothing has really changed.”
        (Only my whole world!)
        “Time will heal.” (I don’t want to be healed. I want my life back.)
        “Dry your tears. He wouldn’t want you to cry.”
        or
        “He wouldn’t want you to ——(fill in the blanks).”
        (How does everyone else know so well what he would want?)
        “Look on the bright side. His pain is over.” (If that’s the bright side, what is the dark?)
        “You’re really just feeling sorry for yourself, now, aren’t you?” (Damned right!)
        Claimants,
        please line up at the window
        single
        file
        to claim your reward.
        What?…No takers?
        Well, that’s okay.
        Look on the bright side…
        I’ve just saved a million, billion, trillion dollars.

          • Patty i was married 23 yrs wonderful yrs. 5 grown children oldest 22 youngest 15 we all woke up to open x-mas presents except my husband at 44. Died that after noon. On Dec 25,2005 of one to many heart attacks. Never got to say good bye. I slept at the cementary. The first night he went under i didnt know then. That it turned in to 18 months streight that i slept on top of his grave ..
            Its been 10 yrs and i miss him with all. My heart. I berly finding who i am it was hard and times i feel i feel him i no longer sleep at the cementary but i do visit often
            I recently started dating its strange to me i dont know how but im going to be ok if u want to chat im here for you ok …

            • We have a similar pain. I was with my boyfriend for 12 years. He finally proposed to me in November 2015. I watched him die from his first heart attack Christmas night, age 46. I know without a doubt the paramedics did everything they could. We had no children. Then his best friend (going to be best man) died August 2016.

        • 22 years ago my 45 yr old husband passed away , I keep busy work myself till am exausted tend to everyone & remain single nothing will change . I go for days without feeling any grieff but every now & again that sadness comes again & although not so numbing as in earlier days it still stops me in my tracks. It can be a smell , a piece of music or just seeing a happy couple together & I smile as I have had those lovely days long ago.

        • This is so awesome! I love what you wrote!
          I just lost my 27 year old son, my only child, in 2016 and 4 months later, I lost my mom. I just wish that the people who don’t know what to say and the heartless would say nothing at all! I too have experienced people’s cold comments and others who have kept their distance from me when I needed them the most! Unfortunately during the darkest time in your life is when you find out who your friends truly are and which family members really love you… Like you’re not hurting enough, this just adds more salt to the gaping wound! To find out that the people you thought loved you and would always be there have abandoned and avoided you like the plague is devastating! But this is a clue that it’s time to clean out the clutter in your life… Family or not! I am so sorry for the loss of your true love. I can’t imagine the emptiness you feel losing the one who was by your side, your best friend, your confidant, the person you love and share everything with… The person who you have gone through good times and bad times together and made it through everything because of your love! My grieving heart goes out to you Mary Grace! Sending love and hugs to you!

          • I can totally relate to you on this one. My grandson murdered by his sperm donor 1 day before he would have been 5 mo. old… 6 mo later in the parking lot of a grocery store I run into my mother-in-law, (step great grandma” and she asked how I was doing. I said the depression is getting the best of me most days but I’ve found a good counselor.

            Her reponse: “What do you have to be depressed about?” Mine: um my grandson was murdered. Her: “You need to just get over that.”

            She’s lucky I don’t punch my elders.

            • Sometimes the best you can do with the clueless is smile, nod and edge away. I was told by one woman that “Cj (my wife of 30 years who’d just died a few days before) is fine and in a better place. She’s happy and she’d be angry with you for being sad.” This was then followed by “I understand grief – I lost my chihuahua who I’d had all his life and he was 18.” Seriously? You just compared me losing my confidante, best friend, cheerleader, and axis of my world to you losing your dog? I know losing pets hurts – I’ve lost quite a few in my day – but really?

          • I lost my husband of 35 years…. Never really knew how to carry on, but did. Then my boyfriend died. Within 30 months I have had so much .

            • Wow, I could have written that. I lost my husband after 37 years & then I met a wonderful man who treated me like a queen. We were together 4 years & he died from leukemia. The grief was unbearable.

        • Mary, I LOVE THIS! And can so relate as many odd, awkward, painful statements were made after my mom died. PLEASE find a way to Publish the Words of REWARD! You are sure to reward Yourself with Millions of dollars after it becomes a NYT best seller! 🙂

        • I lost my husband in July, I feel I will never recover, how can I… there’s such a huge hole in my life.
          I do know how you feel.
          This is so much more painful than losing my parents… he was my everything, my every day. xxxxx

        • Love! I havnt lost my husband, but i lost my father when he was 59, the comments that came out of peoples mouths and still do is repulsive, I get a double shot on that one because, he left my mom for his secretary 10 years before he had died. Im so sorry for your loss of husband, I cant even imagine.

        • Its a pain with such a deep hurt. I lost my husband at 29. Suicide…. I remember I was told to just get over it. Well FYI thats not how it works.

        • I so relate to what you wrote Mary. I can remember thinking how sad it was when
          Someone lost their spouse and feeling so bad for that person. I’ve learned since losing my husband that no one has a clue what goes on behind their closed doors- the pain and grief is overwhelming and I will grieve the rest of my life because in my heart the rest of my life always included my husband…I want my future back.

          • I m with you on that. My husband was my biggest friend. I will never get over his death.
            My son was 13 when his dad died and he was my sons hero. It is so so sad. My sons grieve is very diffrent than mine. But we both have a big hole inside us that will never close. I miss and long for him so much. His smell his smiles his jokes and hugs. Every one tels you aaaw thats nice memories. I dont want the memories I want my husband back. Love him so much

        • People who are “uncomfortable with our loss” can say the most horrible things. My MOTHER said to me, 3 months after my son Danny died, “Shouldn’t you be over that by now?”

      • Sorry you can only know it in your head by studying it…the blinding pain in one’s heart in grief can blessedly only be known when one experiences it…so it should be…you can learn to be compassionate and caring to those in grief…learn the process of grief (no stages btw…those are stages of dying)…blinding pain af grief and loss can only be truly known by those who experience it…and henceforth life is altered…

    • I DO wish people would stop using the bible as some kind of sop. No verse from any source brings even the tiniest bit of consolation–and usually brands the speaker as an insensitive asshole who assumes that his or her own beliefs are echoed by others.

      They’re not.

      • If you know Jesus, it does bring consolation. Honestly, Jesus is the only one who gets me through the loss of my daughter each and every day because in Him is where hope is found. I could give you scripture to share this reality for me with you, but since you are not really into that, I will pray for you as you battle against the devastation of losing someone you love so dearly. I pray for the peace that is beyond understanding as God’s word states. I am a literal example of what that peace looks like now though before I could never truly grasp the whole concept of such peace. I have no intent to impress upon you my beliefs, but rather to share with you the hope that I cling to, the love of Jesus, and to tell you that you matter, your pain matters, you are loved, and you are not forgotten.

        • Thank you for your post. Talking with Jesus and praying to him…as well as reading scripture is the only thing that helps me through this extremely painful grief I suffer over my Dad. I lost him 4 months ago. God bless you.

          • My brother died this summer. It was his 4th primary cancer. They started at the age of 5. He was 43. He had been through many rounds of chemo, radiation and pretty much gutted out. He had a wife and son and all he wanted was to live. What God give you comfort while watching this go on to a child? The Bible was written by man and interpreted in many different languages. People turn to God, jesus, the Bible to make sense of the world. When something good happens praise God. When something bad happens praise God because there has to be a silver lining. No, life is just life. My brother got handed a raw deal. It is what it is.

            • Def not fair and makes no sense,too painful,too hard,so many things make no sense to us.That is why I refuse to believe this life is the whole picture.

            • My 8 yo grandson got a raw deal as well. Heart transplant at the age of 9 months (thank you Lord), moderate autism and Gaucher’s Disease for which he needs an hour transfusion every two weeks for the rest of his life. I don’t know how much more we can take.

        • You are so right …. I cannot imagine life without Jesus after losing my wonderful son. I’m so sad for those who don’t know him. I’m beyond thankful that I do.

          • I lost my son March 4th, I lost a part of me that will never be replaced, Only by the grave of god am I’m still breathing.He was a wonderful son,husband,dad,Papaw,brother,uncle,and friend to many many people.I live now to see him again. God bless anyone that has list a Son or Husband,And Dad, All of our families lives has changed forever. I just pray someday we can stop hurting as much as we are all hurting right now,Even his precious grandchildren from 2 too 11 are grieving, He was only 51yrs old. And was a Christian and loved life,family and people more than anyone I ever knew, I pray and beg God for peace and comfort for our entire family.🙏

        • To know Jesus is to know yourself,which we think we do until the world we live in and the life we know are gone,forever and there is nothing,after the numbness we enter a parallel universe and still feel mostly nothing except the loss, we know there is still joy and beauty,but when we try to see and feel there really is not much there for us.I’m coming up on 4th anniv of my husband’s suicide.He made life worth living,we completed each other and now there is nothing.I’m considering lawsuit against makers of Lexapro(he was on it for couple yrs)and the insulin he had been injecting for one week,statute of limitations prop passed….

            • Only a Breath away Bert, ……. not very far…… just one mere thought away, that’s all, just a short statement, remark or comment from you, will keep her forever near Bert,
              She is never that far away, Your Love will keep her close always, She is now forever in your heart, Re-live those memories Bert,
              She is not lost,
              Bless You, Be Strong Bert, Let her guide & Love you still….on this the remainder of your journey. Love to you….Angie x

            • I am so sorry for your pain & suffering, Bert. I’ve told my husband I want to die first because the pain of losing him would be too great for me to bear.

        • Have you felt the pain of losing your covenant soul mate and life partner? I, as a Christian believer and Bible teacher have. Yes there is comfort from God, through the Holy Spirit, but there is an empty hole in my heart for partner God gave me. Grief is real and affects people in different ways. I will also pray for you that God will grant you realization of that fact. There is no standard answer!

        • I agree! We just lost my brother in June. He was 30 yrs old. My best friend. He had no children. If my Parent’s hadn’t raised us in a Christian home, Idk how any of us would have went on. I believe in God and Heaven but still found myself questioning my faith. I also found myself digging deeper into the Bible for some sort of comfort in what happens after death. What I found is that we don’t go to Heaven to be greeted by our Savior immediately, which is what I thought my whole life (going to church 3-5× a week for over 20 yrs). The Bible says we go when Jesus returns. Until then we are just gone… in a sleep like state, no pain or thought. It was still comforting to know that when He returns we will ALL be together again and that my brother feels nothing now. Not his pain or ours that we now live with while he’s gone. I’m so sorry we are all in this “Valley of Grief” together. As nice as it is to not be alone in something, I so wish this “Club” just didn’t exist. But I’m more than grateful for my faith, as that alone (and by the grace of God) is how I am able to breathe each day, even though it feels like there’s no air in my lungs. Does that make sense? Whatever gets you through each day. Much love and healing thoughts & prayers for you all <3

      • SO VERY SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS..
        I TOO HAVE LOSS A DAUGHTER AGE 23 YEARS…4 MONTH’S BEFORE SHE DIED, SHE SLIPPED INTO A COMA FOR 10 DAYS, WHEN SHE WOKE, I ASK HER WHERE SHE WENT jokingly, SHE SAID I WAS WITH GOD….SHE SAID MY GRANDMOTHER CAME AND GOT HER , SHE SAID HER FRIEND SHE HAD LOST 18 MONTHS BEFORE HER WAS THERE AND FINALLY GOT HIS FIRST BIKE A HARLEY DAVIDSON. .WHICH SHE WILL RIDE ON THE BACK OF WHEN SHE GETS BACK THERE, BUT THAT SHE COULDN’T RIDE IN THE PINK DRESS I WAS GOING TO LAY HER OUT IN …I HAD JUST GOT IT AND NEVER TOLD HER…SHE SAID I HAD TO PUT ONE OF HIS HARLEY SHIRT UNDER THE DRESS.. (I did) .
        SHE SAID IT’S SUNSHINE 24/7 THERE AND SHE WILL BE IN GOD’S CHOIR…SHE WENT ON FOR HOURS AS I CLIMB IN THAT HOSPITAL BED TO LISTEN…SHE THEN TOLD ME NOT TO BE MAD…BUT SHE COULDN’T WAIT TO GO BACK…SHE WAS BORN BLIND AND REALLY HELPED ME TO SEE THAT SHE WAS GOING TO BE OK….I MISS HER , SO I TALK TO HER AND SHE SENDS BUTTERFLIES AND PENNIES…YOU SHOULD ALWAYS LOOK UP AND JUST SAY HELLO ! THEY REALLY DO HEAR YOU !!

        • Your post touched my heart. I lost my daughter 2 years ago, she was blind with a myriad of health difficulties but I loved reading about her visit to heaven. I hope in some way that brings you comfort to know without a doubt at all she’s walking those streets of gold and riding that Harley! My daughter gives me gifts in butterflies, sometimes in the clouds, sometimes her scent… I’m always looking for my signs from her.

        • Thank you for sharing what your precious daughter shared with you of heaven, my beloved husband is there too ! So, I really love reading stories like yours where people were blessed by the knowledge of heaven in this way as a confirmation and blessing for their loved ones and them. God is so good! You are in my prayers!

          • It just did the same thing for me too. My mother died a few months ago after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. I am her only child. Although I have a beloved daughter, wonderful son-in-law, two precious grandchildren, and many close friends, losing my mother has left a big, empty space in my heart and in my life. It was as though she became my little child I took care of for the last 12 years. I have been especially sad today, sad and feeling empty. Yet I know that my loss of an elderly parent I’m sure cannot compare to the loss of a child. I have strong faith in God and I am grateful to know my Mama is in heaven. But my grief is still there. Like a gray elephant wandering in and out of whatever room I’m in.
            Reading the posts on this site has given me warm, peaceful comfort tonight. I feel comfort from the other people who have posted or even the ones who have also been drawn to it tonight as I have for the same reason they are here – each of us is grieving for someone we have lost but will always love. It is good to “be” with you tonight.

        • Darlene that was so beautiful, it really touched my heart because I have been to Heaven myself. Thank you so much for sharing your message from your beautiful daughter. You do know she can see in Heaven now. And she does hear every word that you tell her. But please be happy that she is in Heaven. Because just like there is Heaven, there is also Hell. My daddy loved motorcycle he went to Heaven in 1998.. so when you said about the motorcycles it again reminded me of when I also saw them. Heaven is such a beautiful place. I myself can’t wait to go back. I pray the next time will be for good. I guess I had to come back and be here to help my family get through some things. I don’t know only God knows that. God bless you and your family always Darlene.

      • You’re a real dick. People should grieve for you when you die because you’re going to hell. On second thought, they shouldn’t grieve for you because you will be in hell. It was your choice.

      • only your opinion talk the talk when lost your daughter father grandmother grandfather two sisters three brothers and your best friend to cancer and to know that we will be reunited in Gods hands in his home is alot of comfort

      • I completely agree with you. If anything when people start talking about bible versus it makes me think… Ok.. there’s this all loving power or being or whatever it is that causes such pain and grief to make us better?!? Or the ever loving quote “jesus needed more angles” bahaha
        Pisses me off

      • Your comments are not universal. They are simply a reflection of your own personal experience (or lack thereof). There are many verses in the Bible that bring me great consolation. Although you may not have had the comfort of that experience, please don’t speak for those of us who have. It is always a mystery to me why so many think they have universal knowledge of what I think, feel, or experience when they really haven’t a clue and clearly admit it. That seems a bit grandiose to me.

        • Linda – people are not like cars with problems where you just get the manual out and start reading. One person’s experience and walking through life’s events mean far more than any passage from a bunch of books.
          Whether you have faith in God or not; grief is very real and very personal and is part of what makes us human.

      • I feel sorry for you that you feel that way. Don’t criticize people for what they believe in- esp. when it come to religion. Those Bible books and passages do have a calming and healing affect/ maybe you should try it sometime?

      • DannyJane I agree 100%. My son died three years ago and I still want to scream when people say “he’s in a better place now” or “he’s with Jesus”. Bullshit. He is dead. His body was cremated and I sprinkled his ashes near a rose garden in an ancient cemetery. Yet somehow, even in the depths of grief I seem to be expected to accept these misguided attempts at solace. I have to be the polite one, to be mindful of their Christian sensibilities. Why is that? I do not take comfort from their beliefs. So I stay away from such mindless people.

        • az, totally agree with you. As a pastor, I hear so much garbage which is supposed to be soothing, but is really intended to make the person saying it feel better, and make them feel like death isn’t going to touch them. “He’s an angel in heaven.” “God needed him.” such a bunch of crap. Some of it is just garbage sentimentality, with no real meaning (the angel stuff), the other makes God into a monster. Most of it is an attempt to paper over what has happened with sticky sweetness that doesn’t do justice to what is happening to the person. I lost my three-year-old grandson a few years ago, and could have slapped a few people and their idiotic statements. You don’t “get over” it. You find a new normal. Henri Nouwen said it pretty well – he said that eventually it becomes like old scar tissue; while still new it hurts constantly. After a while, it pulls occasionally, and causes pain – often when we don’t expect it. But that pain is also a reminder of what was precious to us. If we didn’t have the pain, we would wonder how important that person was in our life. So, in a sense, we come to welcome the pain, even though it leaves us broken once more.

          It’s been six years now. This isn’t something you can tell someone when they are going through it. All you can do is hold their hand, and promise that God is holding their hand and grieving with them, too. When we go through “the valley of the shadow of death,” it is then that the hands of Christ, felt through the very real hands of those who hold us, are most important – when Christian community takes on added significance. They hold me when I cannot hold on myself; they believe for me when I am feeling the absence of God; they accept and love me when I feel alone and rejected. That is the fallacy of the “me and you” religion so common in the United States, and it is precisely where it falls apart. When we have no strength of our own, then the strength of a loving community bears us up.

          • The saying that has stayed with me after we lost our first son to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at 11 months old – 27 years ago now – is “You never get over it, you learn to live with it!” I say it to people all the time even now – & will for the rest of my life! ❤️

      • I’m sorry for whatever loss you have suffered. I just lost my only son not quite 2 months ago. It’s a wonder I don’t swallow a bottle of pills, and your right….there is little if anything that offers comfort. However I don’t think people are assholes that offer the passages in the Bible as a source of comfort. I think that statement is “insensitive.” Jesus doesn’t force himself on anyone, you can choose to believe him or not. I just wonder in amazement how people do this awful, sad, evil world without the Lord. The ONLY comfort I have is that I KNOW I will see my son again.

      • Ive had that loss of a child. My (our) faith has gotten me (us) thru tough days, and after 47 yrs, when that pain revisits me, it still dies help aee me thru. Is it all I need to get past the sorrow? No. But its a good place to start.
        So dont assume that the Bible, what it says, a ministers counseling or having faith, doesnt work. It may not for you, as you seem closed minded. But it does work for those who believe.

        • Thank you Kerri, I have just recently suffered a tremendous loss of my only son at age 24. very little comforts me, even some things in the Bible I now find confusing. I am a woman of strong faith and have been for several years, I’m just having a really tough time with this one. However I know my son is with the Lord and that does bring me great comfort. people who use derogatory comments like “assholes” are the people who are insensitive! I don’t know how I will ever feel normal again,or even functional.I pray that my faith will become strong again and I will have a purpose in my life. I do know that Jesus is carrying me now or I would have checked out weeks ago.

          • After the death of my son to cancer 11years ago it has been hard to find a ” normal ” then my youngest daughter was killed in a tragic accident & I’ve had to depend on God even more to hold my hand . He has been faithful. Someday I’ll be reunited with all my loved ones . I can still give thanks for the wonderful years I had with them .

      • Oh ye of little faith.
        The bible is about the power of love. The love is a gift for everybody whether you want it or believe in it or not. Not believing in something doesn’t necessarily mean it isnt true or real. Just say’in.

      • That’s just wrong. I think if it helps someone then that’s great. Noone is saying you have to believe it and read it. For those that believe in God it could be very comforting to them.

      • So your saying your belief is the only right one. If someone believes and it consoles them what is wrong with that. Noone said you had to read it or believe. Who are you to tell others not to read the bible and believe? People need to quit telling others what to believe in

      • We only share what works for us.After losing my best friend and partner of 63 years, I found the scriptures which we both had relied on in good times and bad to be the most comfort for me

      • I agree that we wont ever be consoled. We will learn to carry it as part of us in such a way that we can put it somewhere for a time and live our lives. That’s how its been for me anyway.

        • I lost my father at age9 my mother at 10. 50 years have gone by since then and it often hurts like it was yesterday. Bitterness and blaming God are such a waste for neither is true nor will help to you …. No one can make it better.. Some can just help you deal with the pain.

      • I am not an overtly religious person myself.and I don’t like folks using religion as an excuse for hatred or discrimination. However, if bible passages (something I’ve come to interrupt as past personal learnings and interpretation of those before me. NOT literal, “this is the only way of life”) If it helps folks get through their day and their person pain then,so be it. To each their own. As long as they don’t use the messages as a weapon against humans.

      • I totally agree! Quoting scripture does not help! Things like god took your child because he needed another Angel – really? Then why didn’t he take one of yours?

      • I totally agree! Quoting scripture does not help! Things like god took your child because he needed another Angel – really? Then why didn’t he take one of yours?

      • I can only feel sadness and sorrow for you that you don’t understand God and His Word. Open your heart; yes, open your heart, and give it a try. Doesn’t work? Try again. Someday we will all know how real our God and His a Word are. Don’t be among those who have not given it a chance. I will pray for you.

      • Just because you find no comfort from it, does not lessen the comfort it may give others. What is interesting is why it perturbs you so much. Would you be just as offended if the Koran was quoted or even the verses of someone like Dickinsen, or Frost. If you are trying to be open to allowing for individual need to grieve as one sees fit, their quoting anything should just be what it is, another opinion.

      • You are wrong in you assessment of the bible. Your claim there are no words at all of consolation in the bible or any book at all, are in error. The Bible plainly does give many words of Consolation because this world hates Christians. We must believe in Christ and follow his example even taking up our cross (suffering for his benefit) to be saved. we are not perfect as Jesus was, and we who believe sin, but we have Christ as our advocate with our Father. (God) when we repent. There are many books by Christians concerning God consoling his children. He consoles us that no matter what we suffer, others have suffered and faced worse than us. Our suffering will be known by him and he will be with us, rewarding us in Heaven for waiting upon Jesus. The Bible also consoles us by telling us not to fear the one who can kill us, (Satan) but to fear Him that can kill both the body and our soul. (God) in his judgement. Our life on earth is a fleeting moment to God who is eternal. A thousand years is like a day to God. Heaven and Hell are eternal. Regarding Heaven we are consoled by being told we will have no sin or suffering there, forever. That is no little consolation. We will see all our loved ones who chose to follow Christ before that day before they gave up their flesh,when we are taken up with Christ as he burns the earth and throws all who did not choose him in the lake of fire with Satan. Our biggest consolation from God the Father by Christ His Son obeying his request.
        The thing I notice most about your comment is the tone and wording of your comment. It is misleading to those not yet called. He was proven by his miraculous proof of Power, and knowledge and authority. That is very consoling. The joy and hope of eternal salvation, given freely to us for believing and following Jesus. God gives everyone the choice of where they will spend eternity. I choose Christ. Seek His Son and you will find Him for your own salvation. You claimed the bible did not give consolation and usually brands the speaker as an insensitive @$$h0le who assumes that his or her own beliefs are echoed by others. There are others who believe this. Not as many as will be lost, but every man must work out his own salvation. A choice given to us. This author of this article was intending his message for Christians, now and later. The author is speaking to those who believe and your anti-biblical opinion is a part of the World we are to set ourselves aside from. The bible does tells about the gifts God gives his children that are there for all, who choose them, because he loves all mankind and his creations.

        • I do believe that Christ came here to set an example for us all. being a parent has taught me more about God than any book I’ve ever read. I know that God is loving forgiving and with us always. You say that Christ is going to burn this world and send people to hell. so here’s the question do you have children and you forgive them of their sins would you throw them into Eternal ever-burning fire well I can honestly say I would not and I don’t believe my loving God would throw me there either. Amen

          • God does not send people to hell. We make that choice ourselves. He gives us free will to choose to love him or not. If he made us like robots that can’t choose to reject his message what value would that love have?

      • I agree. There are no words to describe the pain that I have since my son died. It’s been five years and it feels like yesterday. Children who have lost their parents are called orphans. A spouse who has lost their spouse is called a widow/widower. There are no words to describe accurately the loss of a child. I can never go back to the old me….She died when he did. I can’t go back to normal because this is my normal now. I hate when someone says at least he is in a better place. There is no better place than a mommy’s arms. Don’t tell me he isn’t in pain any more because I will ask why he had a life of pain to begin with. Don’t tell me that at all I have my girls because I will ask you which one of your children that you would choose to die.

        I lost my only son, my only brother, my mom and uncle all within four months of each other.

      • If you’re truly a believer in God the pain will still be there it will always but God will pick us up and carry us through that pain like it says in the footprints on the days that we cannot make it if we give it to God he will carry us until we are ready to go on our a True Believer in God will let God heal us it’ll help the pain gets easier but the pain will never go away

      • Agreed. I get angry when people say they will pray when what you really need is help with learning to do all the chores your spouse took care of. Or you need some help figuring out all those details that go with dying and getting buried. But no; they think that a few mumbled words will get them off the hook. Sometimes you just need someone to listen. That’s all. Just listen.
        Within a period of 10 weeks, I lost my mother, my very best buddy in the world, and then my mother-in-law. I was on grief overload for two years afterwards. And people do say the stupidest things, things that can be so heartless. When my best buddy died, people were weird because I am happily married, but had this male pal. He was a friend to my husband and children too. They just could not see that I had lost a man I considered to be my big brother. We had been pals for almost 20 years. Grief is grief. Quit the speculating and act like a decent human being.

      • Thank you, thank you, thank you. After my son was murdered a former friend kept quoting bible verses at me “for consolation “. I wanted to punch her. There is no consolation, only a learning to get by.

    • You can read and believe but till you buried your child or your love one … what is written in this article is very raw, accurate feelings and stages that you will move through on your grief journey. No two peoples walks are the same. I am a very caring, compassionate person. Who tried to show such empathy. WHAT A FOOL I WAS… my empathy, my caring and compassion couldn’t of been more off till I buried my child. Till I experienced the loss. Till I walked in those Grief Shoes… THEN AND ONLY THEN DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!! My FAITH is what got me through it. But like a freight train, GRIEF without warning it can come crashing down on you. I no longer fear it, I accept and know this too shall pass. Grief is a lot of work, Time gives you an opportunity ease some of the pain but that whole NEVER HEALS. Hopefully, you find ways to honor their lives, ways to ease the next persons grief journey by letting them know… they are Not Alone. Just Sayin… Lanezee

      • My son Michael died 6 months ago..he was 39 yrs old..miss him sooo much.l cry everyday for my son.He leaves behind 2 sweet daughters without their Daddy.They are having a very hard time.All our lives will NEVER be the same.My grief is relentless,debilitating & heartwrenching every minute of everyday.My life has changed forever.I feel sooo empty& lost.

        • Hug your Grandkids Nancy,….. these feelings and emotions would not be there sooooo strong, if Michael wasn’t missed by you all…..How Wonderful to have ALL been Part of such a Great Love, He must be very proud of you ALL right about now Nancy, happy that he TOO was and still is Part of this Wonderful Love….You’ll none of you’s will ever forget ( Don’t you Dare )….but continue on, best you can, Loving & taking Care of one another…..Keep Sharing your Grief Nancy with those who loved him ( I bet there’s many too )
          Keep Talking & Sharing the Memories Always……Love NEVER Dies…….Michael lives on in his Wonderful Daughters….he always will……
          Wishing you ALL Love in this your very sad time….
          Keep your Chin up hun…. You have a Family to be Proud of…Hold Hands & Hug often ( as I’m sure you do already ) Angie xx

    • Those are great verses but you obviously have never lost someone tragically. I have a huge faith in God and love Him deeply that fact does not change how deeply you grieve for someone you have lost. With great love comes great grief when you have lost them. I have seen God’s hand in finding our son when he was missing and in holding our family together to get through the time immediately after. He truly worked miracles that you cant imagine! I am very grateful for all He did and continues to do for us however, none of this changes the degree of grief your body experiences and the new normal your life becomes. I pray you never have to experience a loss of that degree.

    • My husband, Dave, died twelve years ago. I am thankful every day for what I had and have. And, I go through gut wrenching, heartbreaking periods of mourning this long after losing him.

      • I feel the same. My sister died 12 years ago and most of the time now I feel I have put the grief in it’s own place in my life and carry on unaffected. But last week, there was a moment when I was unexpectedly confronted with a memory that evoked a wracking sob from me. It never goes away, really. We just learn to live with it.

    • So much judgment for people that are not the Lord himself. You should NEVER judge this journey on what someone believes or does not believe. You should not force your beliefs on someone, you should have compassion, empathy, and caring like Jesus did. I think it is very sad that the ones that claim people should know Jesus are the very ones being hurtful and cruel. I think you need to take your own advice and re-assess yourself before you force your ideals on others. If you are being cruel to someone grieving because they are struggling with faith, then you know very little of the tests of God. Their struggle maybe a test for you to understand if you really feel what is written in the bible.

    • Don’t be an asshole. Who gives a shit if you’ve known this your whole life. To a person grieving, they can know something all day long. To then be forced to walk the road of grief – that is a different story. Have some empathy.

  3. As around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving
    And the rosebuds know to bloom in early may
    Just as hate knows love’s the cure
    You can rest your mind assure
    That I’ll be loving you always
    As now can’t reveal the mystery of tomorrow
    But in passing will grow older every day
    Just as all that’s born is new
    You know what I say is true
    That I’ll be loving you always
    Always
    (Until the ocean covers every mountain high)
    Always
    (Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea)
    Always
    (Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream)…..

    “As” – Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’

    My husband died six years ago…and I miss him every single day….I grieve, every day, because I love him every day.

    Thank you for this, John Pavlovitz….I would say to the THE CHURCH – don’t relegate the grieving among you to the shadows, embarrassed by us because, AT TIMES, we are not the HAPPY, PERKY, PEACHY-KEEN people Christians are “supposed” to be…..

    He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3, NASB

  4. I don’t normally leave comments on blogs but feel very compelled to thank you this morning for this post (and many others, for that matter)!

    My husband lost his father, who was also his best friend, a month and a half ago. I believe through you and your posts, God is sending me the words that I need to hear…words my husband can’t yet share.

    I found your blog six or so months ago by accident. Shortly after, my husband and I found out that our teenage son was gay. We were searching for ideas and thoughts on embracing our son for the person that we are 100% certain he was created by God to be, yet staying true to our Christianity…which we felt could happen. Although, not many in our area would agree. Your words have helped us know that we are not alone.

    Thank you so very much for helping me and so many others see different perspectives through your blog! You often end your posts with the simple words, “Be encouraged.” Well, my friend, I am.

    • You are not alone in this journey. My father died March 21, 2012 and I miss him deeply every single day. He was the light and life of every party and meeting. He loved to laugh and tell unbelievably awful jokes. He was an American Baptist minister (for 50 years or so)’and part of a hospice ministry towards the end of his life. He studied music in college majoring in organ and voice before he felt moved to go into the ministry. You never really get over a person’s death. Yes, the good memories help but there is this gigantic hole in your heart and soul that can’t possibly be filled.

      I’m sorry for your husband’s loss. He’s lucky to have you for comforts and consolation.

    • I have done this often, I see something that needs fixing in the house, and I say to my self, Den is going to have to look at that. Then like an arrow through me, I remember he died 6 weeks ago. I don’t think this will ever go away.

      • Hang in there. It is horrible, and the pain really doesn’t ever truly go away, but you do learn to live with it. I sincerely hope you have friends and loved ones to help you through. I have lost way more loved ones than I thought I would by the tender age of 42, and it never gets easier. I have learned to keep them close by telling their stories. Something wonderful happens when you can make someone else laugh at some ridiculous stunt your loved one pulled. It will be awhile, but you will get there.

      • My husband has been gone a year and a half now. There are still some mornings that for a brief moment I have forgotten he is dead. When I first realize he’s not beside me in bed, I wonder where he is. Then it hits me and the wounds open up just as agonizing as ever. It’s like reliving the moment the state trooper informed me over and over again. I do promise you this though. There will come a point along your journey when you will be able to feel joy again . Then you may even feel guilt because you do. If that happens, use it as an opportunity to remember your husband and know that he wants you to live your life to the fullest and let the joy wash over you. He will be waiting for you when you join him but until then he wants you to find your own peace and eventually joy. Hang in there. You are not alone.

      • I’m right there with you, Dorothy. My Den died 5 months ago and I do that all the time. I think of something I need him to pick up at the store or fix or just help me with the kids, and he’s not there. Every time it’s like a knife through the heart all over again. But like many here, I do have faith and a Hope that I will see him again one day.

      • My husband died on the 30th October this year. I never imagined how painful grief is until that day. It is a condition we learn to live with not one we can ever accept.

  5. High on the list of things that keep me coming back here, keep me following this blog “religiously” (if you will pardon the expression) and keep me participating in the conversation is the way you open your soul to the world and express what is going on inside of you for all to see. In so doing we get to see ourselves – at least I do. You share what is at the core of our common humanity and I find my own soul reflected back and illuminated, regardless of the specific topic and despite some significant differences in how we express our theologies.

    When you speak of your father’s passing and the deep grief you still feel two years later, It always takes me back to my own father’s death 26 years ago – not quite so sudden nor entirely unexpected, but gut-wrenching and life-changing nonetheless. When you speak of those who suggest that it’s time to “get over it” I am transported back to that graveyard in New Hampshire as the flag that had covered my dad’s casket was folded by the Navy honor-guard and handed to my mother – the finality of it all hit me, and I broke down in uncontrollable grief. My brother-in-law said something – the exact words escape me – but it was essentially to the effect of “there now, compose yourself big guy.” robbing me of the experience of a loss he could not even begin to fathom.

    By the way, I could not write that last paragraph without tearing up more than a quarter-century later.

    We cannot know another’s grief. We cannot feel another’s loss. We can relate what another is feeling to our own experiences, but we cannot know exactly how another really feels.

    Time does heal the gaping open wound some, but the fabric of the flesh is never the same, it may not be quite as raw – but it is still sore and sensitive, and it will always be there.

    As he will always be there.

    And I really appreciate the reminders, and honor your grief and your willingness to share it so openly.

    Live in blessing.

  6. My Dad died on December 5, 2012. He was 79 years old and had cheated death several times, but not this time, not congestive heart failure. He had the “perfect death” — he was under hospice care in my brother’s home; the whole family, wife of 60 years, 3 kids, their spouses/partners, and three grandchildren were camped out and tending to him 24/7; he was alert and comfortable, even stubborn and cracking jokes, until that last day.

    Still, even though this is the natural order, the circle of life… My life, and that of his family, is forever altered. I ache for my Dad every day. Like you said, we will grieve until we are reunited with him or until we simply reach our last day of mourning.

    Thank you for your post. You are able to articulate what so many are feeling.

  7. I have noticed this as well. You’re never the same and the pain can rise up in any moment and the searing pain is right there again. My two year old son died and his twin sister just turned 10. I miss him more than words can say. I am blessed to have loving and supportive friends. If I had someone in my life who thought I should “be over it now”, I wouldn’t concern myself with that. I will grieve as I do, no matter what others think, and I’m always grateful for the loving people in my life.

  8. Pingback: The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving | The Other Side

  9. There is no timetable… A member of my Air Force congregation years ago gave birth to her daughter who had one last kick that morning and nothing more. So many people (my former wife among them) wondered when she would “get over it” and “move on”. I did not know her grief personally, but I recognized the timeless nature of it almost immediately. We dedicated a marker next to the chapel two years later and it was still fresh and raw. Those of us in the community of faith do a dis-service to those who grieve when we take the attitude of “take two scriptures and call me in the morning”. Better for us to walk with the one grieving through the valley of the shadows and simply love…

    Walking with you, brother… Thank you for all the ways in which you share life and faith in all of its rawness, messiness, and beauty!

  10. Not all grief comes from death. As the parent of an adult son incarcerated for the past 4 yrs.,I grieve with every breath I take. Other than the death of a child, I can’t imagine anything more gut-wrenching, depressing, heart breaking than visiting your child in prison. But we visit, regularly, loving him unconditionally, and grieving.

    • I am sorry for the loss of the life in freedom you would have had with your son, Ee; the prison protocol must be difficult each time you visit: the waiting, locked doors and other procedures, as well as the probably crowded Visiting Room with many other families (or behind glass with often non-working phones, for non-contact visits [I have volunteered at the California Institution for Women (CIW), Corona, since 2000]). Phone calls are short and very expensive; letters tend to be the main pipeline of communication (as an aside: this is one reason why I do NOT favor the abolition of the Postal Service; most correctional facilities do not allow inmates to access the Internet, so email is not really an option).
      I hope your son can be freed some day and restored to the life you and your family desire to have with him – blessings and peace be with and upon you.

      • Bless you, Yattwood, for your compassionate spirit in visiting prisoners. You are truly living out Matthew 25. I appreciate your sweet words. ee

    • I know a thing or two about life in prison and I can say to you that the sweetest moments are visits from loved ones, reading letters from loved ones, talking on the phone with loved ones. You are potentially feeding joy to a starving soul… Chapel and Bible/prayer groups are also potentially very deeply enriching in prison. Your son, in his tragedy, has been given a surprising gift though not many would ever ask for it: a highly structured environment where physical needs are provided but fears, temptations and simple joys are all strongly felt. With encouragement, sobs, laughter and some hard truth-telling with grace and kindness, he has a profound life-altering opportunity before him. Pray that he is able to choose this path. If he does not, your tears will be multiplied. Take heart, though, search your scriptures and reach out to the loving God Who promises to walk you through this with wisdom and grace. Restoring your son to hope and a promising future is the noblest of tasks. But it will take many tiny good decisions on his part and yours, fighting through setbacks and sorrows, many hard and soft words, and grace- much grace with truth given in love. It is a long and difficult road, but the journey as well as the destination is not without rewards. You have my best hope and prayers.

    • I am so sorry your child is in prison. That is a totally another issue of Grief while Living. Death is so final as parent we can’t touch, physically talk, send a care package, visit (well you can visit their resting place).

      Prison to me reminds me of a daily, living torture for the individual, the family. Similar but not. For some and maybe you, you will have an opportunity to reconnect once released. My faith in believing that one day I will be with my daughter and family sustains when nothing else can.

    • In my experience — the “grief” of a loved one’s incarceration is more painful than death. Death is “rest” – – the end of earthly suffering, … Incarceration is unknown horrors that can happen (beatings, rapes, intolerance, etc,etc, ) a mother such , imagines it all – in detail – daily, nightly , in her dreams! – -I have experienced both – – both are forever, – – -Sad.

    • My first thought to your post was “how cruel and thoughtless you must be to compare prison to death?!” Then I thought of my brother. He had done his share of drug related prison & jail time and although I (selfishly) would rather at least have him living… I know he would rather be in Heaven. At least he feels no pain or guilt… Nothing. I’m sorry for your loss Ee. It may be a completely different than mine (and many others here), but still a loss, no less. I hope you find comfort in knowing that you can still see your loved one… You still have the chance to tell him how much he is loved… And please tell him!!! Every day, if possible! God bless.

      • Thank you all for your comments. When this post was first posted, my main loss had been my parents, a little over 20 years ago, so while the points made were not quite as painful, they still rang true. Then, three weeks ago tomorrow, I lost my spouse of 30 years, and the real agony began. One is, more or less, “supposed” to lose their parents eventually, but my Beloved and I had planned many more years together. many more adventures, lots of time just enjoying each other’s company then, in just a few days, she went from “I’m tired, honey, but I’m still fighting” to “Ms. Jones, there’s nothing more we can do.” Now, as I try to get my mind around the concept of her not here to be hugged, cuddled, talked to, bantered with, the initial post and all the comments mean even more. Thank you.

  11. Thank you so much for your blog this morning. My daughter died 2 years ago and I still feel numb. So often is is expected that you just move on. The time when it just seems overwhelming is almost too much to handle, buy i will wake up each day and be thankful the I have one more day to delight in the rest of my family and friends.

  12. And then there is losing yourself – to chronic illness – as I did 14 years ago this very night. Yet even those who have lost someone close to them have looked at me oddly when I have spoken openly of the grief. For me, there was no funeral or any public acknowledgement of my loss… no understanding from others of my need to say goodbye… with the result that it was only this last week when I finally did so… alone.

    I have come to think of grief as being like an old friend – someone who has become such a constant companion that I know them through and through, warts and all.

    • I am very sorry for the life of health and wholeness you have lost, Ros – for the loss of all the things you would like to do, and have liked to have done – chronic illness is a robber and thief. Before my husband died six years ago of liver disease, he became incapacitated – my life became one of caretaking, and not the life a husband and wife look forward to: going places together, enjoying things together, anticipating life together.
      I hope that some measure of enjoyment, fullness and sheer fun are able to be a part of your life in some way – apart from doctor/hospital routines, medication protocols and limitations….blessings and peace be with and upon you.

      • Yattwood, thank you very much for your good wishes. Things are very much easier for me now than they were at the beginning. I am able to enjoy many things now that for a time I could not – things that bring much joy into my life. I also have people around me who care a lot for me. So I consider myself very fortunate.

        That said, there are aspects of my old self that I still miss, which is why I commented. I used to think the grief would pass, but instead, like I said, it has become more like an old friend. It doesn’t tear me apart like it once did, but it’s still there.

        The most beautiful thing about having finally said goodbye is that it opened up a deep thankfulness for 37 years of good health and all the joy that came from that – joy that had since become obscured by the pain of loss. When I think about it, it seems crazy that it should have taken 14 years to reach that point, but that’s how it’s been. And I think perhaps part of that has been due to a reluctance to accept that such a ‘goodbye’ was necessary. Years ago, when I first expressed a desire to do this, it was met with total misunderstanding… as if I was giving up on life or something. Neither my pastor nor those closest to me ‘got’ it, so I began to think that maybe I was wrong to feel as I did. But, now that I’ve done it, it’s actually been one of the most ‘freeing’ experiences of my life.

        Peace and blessings be upon you also.

    • Thank you, Ros, for expressing this. Grieving the loss of the life one could have had, the life one expected – it is not something easily expressed or explained to others. Yet the pain of this loss can feel crushing.
      I will ponder your words and try to think of a way that I, too, can “say goodbye” to that life I’ve lost and perhaps find some peace, or feel some of the freedom you describe in your comment to Yattwood.
      I had not looked at it with this perspective before, and I thank you for sharing your experience.

  13. which leaves me to wonder then if that place can’t ever heal what chance do I have as the person who in second place every be loved all the way? Or will that empty spot deny me of full love and I will be in second in his eyes, his families eyes and so forth. I am so torn as to what I should do. I would like to have someone’s whole heart and be number one for someone.

    • Cindy, I read your post many times. As I understand it, you are his “second” love? Please know, that your love for him and his love for you will create a special place in his heart and soul all your own. You have your own place to occupy. You are the first and only occupant of that special place. You will never taker her place, and she could never give him what you give him. You are each unique.

      My mother died in March 2008 after 41 years of marriage. My dad fell in love again quickly and remarried in November that same year. His now wife was widowed six months before he was. They love each other completely. They talk about their first marriages and spouses with each other and with us kids… They still grieve. But they find comfort and compassion in their lives together. They have become each other’s first loves. Not their first loves of all time, but their first loves now, in the present. Dedicated, devoted, content and at peace.

      As my father’s child, I am grateful that my daddy has someone to adore and who adores him, who cherishes him, who holds him. I do not consider her to be my mom, but I see her as a remarkable amazing woman who loves my dad. She makes me smile.

      I wish for you a beautiful, loving, unique relationship that you can call your own. Deep and marvelous and full of the joys of life. Your and his life, together.

      ❤️G

  14. I lost my son, my only child, almost 4 months ago on July 4th. I thought I knew a lot about grief but this has been a brutal grief unlike anything I’ve ever known. I’ve found that grief refuses to be ignored, or cheated, and just when you think it’s lightening up, it hits you like a stealth bomber.
    John, I have just found you in the last couple of weeks and your words and your theology are the most compassionate and loving and authentic that I have read in a very long time. Since I lost my son, I have said often that the grief from his death will only end with my own death. I have faith that life can be good again and I am surrounded by love from many people, but life will always be different now. The only thing worse than living with this grief would be not having known the love between this mother and her son… a high price for love, but worth it.

  15. I have two pictures of the “Grief Map.” One is the standard way it’s “supposed” to go, from denial to anger to bargaining, etc. The other has the spots marked, but with scribbles from one to the other to the other back to the beginning to acceptance to denial to anger. That is how my grief goes. One day I’m OK, the next day I can barely function for the tears and anger and denial and bargaining with God to “just take me not him.”
    Yeah, and it’s been 3 1/2 years, so I should be over it by now. But I’m not, either. And my future father in law tells me that after 30 YEARS, he still grieves for his father.
    I didn’t “get it” before, either. A friend lost her mother about 3 years before my Dad died, and I was impatient and non-understanding. I get it now. You are right, the compassion and the empathy don’t come until we’ve experienced it ourselves.

  16. Ten months now. 41 years of marriage. He suffered brain damage. He’s different now.
    I’m his caregiver. I miss my best friend. He knew me. I’m alone.
    Somehow, so much to do. Not enough moments to grieve…except sitting here
    at 4 something am. Nobody understands. Nobody. Is this the part of life that pushes us over the cliff into the arms of the Lord? I smile on the outside. My broken heart is silent…

    • I couldn’t leave your post without commenting, Lynette. Even though I don’t understand. Even though I have never been there. Even though words are useless. I just wanted you to know, in the silence, that someone thought of you and prayed for you.

    • Lynette, my husband showed signs of early dementia at age 45. Over the next two years he developed severe psychiatric and neurological symptoms that meant he required 24/7 care. When he died suddenly (of an undiagnosed, unrelated issue), I realized I’d lost him twice–first in mind and then in body.

      I don’t know your precise agony, but I know how I felt similar to what you’ve described. My heart goes out to you.

      • Yes…I have not experienced a spouse dying in mind or in body. But even before I read your post, Teal Ashes, and only had Lynette’s in my thoughts, I thought of something I read once written by a woman whose husband had Alzheimer’s and slowly drifted away from her until he was not there in any way she could recognize. She felt as though he had died; she saw herself as a widow, experienced terrible grief, and believed that his physical death would be relatively insignificant. After all, he was already “gone.”

        Well, she was wrong, as you know. She was shocked at how the death of what she knew to be him, did not prepare her at ALL for his literal death. She realized immediately that having him still present in some way, even with what had seemed near total loss of all they once had, all he had, was more important than she ever could have known prior. The visits that she had come to somewhat resent and that brought such sadness, loneliness and even anger….Well, after his death, she longed to be able to visit him like that again. She too realized she’d lost him twice…

    • Lynnette, I can find no words sufficient, but I offer what I can:
      I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the hurt and frustration and loneliness you endure.
      Please know that for this moment, someone is squeezing your hand, looking into your pained eyes, understanding, and hurting for you.

  17. I find help and support in this post, and in each and every reply. I lost my brother only six weeks ago and I had no idea about this kind of grief. “Brutal” is a good word. And yes, it will be with me for the rest of my life.
    I feel like my life is hugely diminished by my brothers death, that the world has gone from technicolor to sepia. It’s still there, but feels far, far less meaningful. I almost feel like from here on out I’m just biding my time ’till my days are done.
    I go out–have coffee with friends, go to the movies, etc.; all but one of my friends (and relatives) are back to acting like nothing ever happened (which I find strange, since everyone, without exception, adored my brother!). So I mostly just act ‘normal,’ but in my gut there is this constant pain which I have a feeling will never completely go away. You know, it really does make it feel all the worse when people act like everything is ‘normal’ again. It’s hard to explain. I think it makes me feel all the more alone.
    So, like John (my brothers’ name also), and those of you who’ve replied, we are walking in this valley of grief. Together. Thank you all for your comments.

    • Cindy, I also lost a big brother. Your words hit home. When you said the world has gone from technicolor to sepia, you said something I could never put into words. Thank you for your comment. Deeply sorry for your loss and the walk you are now on.

      • Hi. Had not made the connection when I left a reply to your own personal post…

        It’s not clear to me, was this your only, or last brother? You mentioned thinking you’d have a brother there by your side when your dad died. This was my only sibling; and both my parents have died (my dad when I was three–my mom when I was 33, both to cancer, as my brother).

        When you say it’s been five years since you lost your big brother, I am not as all surprised that the pain is still right there. At my brothers wake, I went inside and sat on the sofa, across from me was a middle-aged woman sitting there, talking with who looked like could have been her young daughter–which turned out to be the case. They were happily chatting, smiling… the woman then asked me how I knew John (my brother), I said “he’s my brother,” as I chocked up and started to cry. The woman’s face changed so fast! then she went on to say how very, very hard it is to lose a brother, that people don’t always understand how hard it can be to lose a sibling, that they carry all of your shared history with them, and then they die, and part of you dies. She started to cry. I could see that there was some serious pain there, not sympathy tear/pain, but pain that ‘knows’ that kind of loss. I assumed she must have lost her brother very recently, certainly in the past year or so. I asked her when she lost her brother and, through her tears, she said fifteen years ago. I will never, never forget that exchange. What it taught me was that what I was feeling that day, that degree of pain, I understood I would feel for a very, very long time—if not forever. I tend to feel this pain will feel as poignant, when something stirs it up, forever. For her it’s been fifteen years, and it’s clear that pain is still just below the surface—ever there.

        Thank you for you being here. Thank you for writing.

      • Cindy I have 5 other siblings who were not on speaking terms with my youngest brother when he died. Our family has changed so much and we can never go back to what we were. I miss him so much. We were two of a kind in a large group. The pain is always there. I work with a bunch of guys that he worked with for many years. I get to hear a lot of good and funny stories. I always tear up. I’ve just never faced such a shock in my life. All of my other siblings but one were married when dad died. They weren’t very comforting to me. The one person I needed so bad was already gone. Thank you for sharing more of your life.

      • This really does change your life permanently, forever, doesn’t it? It’s not like losing a job, or even some other big ‘life event,’ but this really, somehow changes your world in a way that you know you’ll never really, really feel 100% whole again. And it’s so, so hard to put into worlds. Mostly, I would appear to get through my days somewhat ‘normally’ (partly because you know that’s what the world expects of you), but in some ways, I feel like I live in a completely different world now.

    • Cindy, I get it – it seems unfathomable that we are expected to somehow function normally in the world after a hole has been torn in our hearts, our souls. And it seems strange that anyone else can do that. When you look around at those who seem to be acting like nothing ever happened, know that many of them are just doing what you are, acting normal while feeling the deep pain of grief and loss.
      When you look around you at people on the street or in the grocery store, realize that an overwhelming number of them have lost someone utterly important to them: a sibling, a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend. Their grief may crush them, but they have little choice but to stand up and walk around as though things are ‘normal’. People have to find their own way to go on, to get by. But they are all familiar with the world turning sepia.
      Grief is private, personal, under the surface much of the time. It’s hard to share it. But you may feel a bit less alone if you can remember that so many others also know that pain, live with the ache, and often feel alone.
      I’m so sorry that you’ve had to join us in the valley of grief. I’m so sorry your brother is gone.

      • Thanks, Arachnia

        First of all, thank you for your condolences!
        What you touch on are some other things I’ve through about in relation to such a loss. I am ‘dealing with,’ first of all, losing my brother. But then I am also aware of now having to navigate being in the world as a grieving person. How much do I say, enough? too much? should I even say anything? nothing? A person does not live in a vacuum and we interact with people on a daily basis. And yes, I’ve thought of all of the other people who have lost someone so dear to them. You bring that home.
        Grief is, really, so very private and personal, isn’t it? Like you say, what choice does one have, eh?
        Thank you, again, for your thoughts and caring.

  18. John, I was first drawn to your online ministry by a quote on grief. I enjoy your writing so much. My 40 year old son died in June. He had an incurable disease, but he died from the depression and alcohol abuse. I remember talking to him about God and he said he thought God was probably fed up with him. I had the priceless gift of telling my son how much his heavenly Father loved him. I am doing all the “right things” and sometimes the grief seems to be tearing me apart, but I know my grief is a tribute to how much I loved my son, Jon. Keep it up John. By the way I just bought your book! Looking forward to it.

  19. After posting this page on my Facebook page, I commented on the page of the person who had previously posted it. SHE, who had gone through tragic circumstances…still rises to the call:

    LLL

    So Mary,

    We are lucky when people share meaningful things…
    Folks don’t mean to be addle brained, but we are and can be.

    This tied in, in a moment where I was getting worn down, dealing with the re-emergence of grief that affected my granddaughter, from the suicide of her young husband, driving her close to the edge. We talked about that a long time ago.

    However because… I …I , didn’t FEEL it at the moment, I was annoyed, I was also making the assumption, that SHE shouldn’t either.

    My BAD.
    That article jerked me around, and I posted on to my page, in hopes of reaching others …and her page.

    In a few moments, there was a response… SOMEONE IDENTIFIED IT.. she was not crazy or alone.. but actually rather normal.

    I also said I was sorry, and I was and am to all those with whom I may have been lofty with.

    Although I have “lost” loved ones here and there. It is the UNEXPECTED, or the young..or the vicious circumstances..that shuts one down. The closer you are the worse it has to be.

    Those of us who are not there..maybe we should just be quiet..

    IDK all the answers, but she is going on a Walk here in Little Rock for Suicide Prevention…soon.

    So many young, military, and others, are taking that route, leaving those behind…in emotional chaos…or just going unexpectedly by another, way like her 17 year old best girlfriend, dying in a car accident this summer. Or even..EXPECTED
    .
    No clever words.. can really define it as much as holding someone close . If they will let you.

    Or at least their hand..and waiting with them to see what they need…here and now..before they join those who passed on.

    She said the article made her cry, That has to be good.

    I think she doesn’t…..being the kind person she is, she actually doesn’t want to hurt others, by displaying her grief.

    I think she should cry …a lot..it is a gift..to help us.

    We pretend we are tough..but we are so so, vulnerable.

    So thank you again, for rising above your own pain.
    ::::

    And thank all of YOU above and JOHN, the Author….

    Grief brings humility as a housewarming gift and doesn’t care whether you want it or not.”

  20. After reading most of everything here, I have one not so very Christian comment… Hell yes, it is tough. It sucks. 3 years 3 months… Daddy. 1 year 3 months…. my precious husband & love of my life, Gil. Yeah. It’s tough. Life goes on… a different life… but it goes on. Thank you God.

  21. Yes! This is precisely what I’ve expressed in my short e-book, Letters to Grief (http://amzn.to/1RnCar6). Grief is not a linear process; it’s cyclical, like the moon. It’s not a twelve-step process, as if by accomplishing a set of steps, we could graduate and be free of it. Yet one day, one glorious day, those who trust in Christ will be ushered into a place where grief is no longer welcome. We will bid our grief farewell — forever.

  22. And realize that everyone you lose brings a different feeling of loss. I lost my father when I was 30, my husband when I was 43, my mother when I was 52, my only sibling at 53. Except for my children, I am alone. Each of these wonderful people I grieve for in a different way…but it is a lot of grief to handle. Thank you God that I don’t carry the burden alone.

  23. Your comment, “This is the cost of sharing your life with someone worth missing” is the truth every new griever needs to understand. We never really get over it—we just get used it. Over many years of missing my son I came to realize that pain and joy could coexist within me. I could experience the pain of his absence and at the very same time feel the joy of the Lord without having to pretend I was OK with what happened. I’m not OK with it, I’m not going to be OK with it. The truth is there’s no explanation for Jacob’s death this side of heaven that will ever satisfy me. Jacob is irreplaceable in my life.
    Great post, glad I found your blog.

  24. You have captured the erratic rhythm of grief beautifully. Your comment on how the sudden wave of pain can make you feel somehow closer defined my own feelings perfectly, in a way I never could have. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my mother earlier this year. I use gratitude to ease the sorrow, and I don’t cry everyday any more, I’m even more likely to laugh when I think of her. Then, WHAM, my eyes fill with tears at a fast food place, because I’m not placing my usual order. It’s nuts, but if it keeps her close, I can do this as long as I have to. I have been wondering if I should still be flooded with loss, at the strangest times. Your words have eased my fear that my reactions could be unhealthy.

  25. John, this is a heartbreakingly empowering post for those who’ve been shamed by “still” grieving loved ones or even life changes (like health). After my mother’s funeral (twenty years ago) her best friend put her arm around me and told me it would always hurt, but it wouldn’t always hurt in the same way. She assured me (and she was right) that in time there would be more sweetness in her memories than sorrow–but that I would always mourn and miss her. In that moment, I appreciated her frank reassurance that love and loss don’t erase one another.

    Your words about the permanence of grief’s roots remind me of something I posted three years after my husband’s death: “Grief doesn’t affect mourners 24/7; it lurks 48 hours a day, 14 days per week. (Whether ‘the math’ agrees or not, that is how it feels.) Grief doesn’t visit the homes or workplaces of those who have lost; without permission it becomes an unwelcome squatter inside the cells and hearts of the bereaved. It tosses beloved furnishings out onto rainy streets while arranging its own dark goods in every corner of memory and thought” (http://tealashes.com/2013/11/18/you-shouldnt-say-you-should/).

    Thank you for this powerful post.

  26. For me grief has helped my grow, the loss of a friend ‘time to move on’. The death of a plant while it’s mate same plant thrives.Here comes a survivor. The grief of children who are neglected and abused sometimes sexually. I lost my sister many years ago and thought I had finished with my grieving. But I hadn’t been there for her funeral and last days. I didn’t say good bye properly tell.her I loved her and honored her at her funeral. She visits me occasionally that lost item appears. The porch light plays tricks. She is always with me in my heart, I have ill.family members and death is imminent. You are never guaranteed life forever l, so make memories that are beautiful. And remind friends and family HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM????

  27. My husband died two years ago and my father just died two weeks ago, just when I was starting to feel human again. Now the grief monster has hit me again like a punch in the gut and the cumulative effects have me in a tailspin that was not readily apparent two years ago. I feel very alone in the world.

    • “…like a punch in the gut…” I hear that. “I feel very alone in the world” is also something I can relate to. My parents have both died, and my only sibling died two months ago. I’m married, no kids, have friends, a good number of “old” friends (from high school days), but in a very quiet way, in a very subtle way, I feel so very, utterly, alone in this world. Why is that? I feel your pain.

      • I have lost 3 brothers , one sister and both parents , many nieces and nephews. I have experienced much grief but losing my parents left such an emptiness in my life that I just couldn’t find the words to explain ,then it hit me , I was feeling like an orphan , as if I were in this world alone. At that time I still had all my siblings but I felt alone . I began saying that to friends that lost their last parent and they would say , that’s it, that’s what I feel like.When we have lost both parents our center of our life has changed, our central meeting place , our holidays are never the same but we go on and survive. My faith in God gets me through and yes I will know grief forever.May God bless you all , we are in this together .

        • Yes, that’s it. I have always felt competent/confident living/moving in this world. But now, no parents, no siblings….it a very lost feeling. It actually scares me in a way, so hard to explain. My father died when I was three. I knew when I lost my mother 25 yrs ago, that no one on this earth would ever love me again as much as she did. That was the moment when I said to myself (literally), I am an orphan. But I still had my brother, whom I adored. Now he’s gone. I think I may feel scared because I feel like life just doesn’t have that much meaning for me now????

          You’ve had a lot of loss. Many family members–wow, hard for me to imagine. Thank you for your thoughts and sharing.

  28. Grief can start early in life. It can come as a realization that you live on the wrong side of the tracks. Life’s journey is tough, and it can suck you down. You never get ready it just comes your turn. Grief is my motivation for being the kind of spouse, friend, brother, Christian that I wished for growing up.
    I have lost family and a child but the grief sends me to those who need a friend or to the lonely. I’ve learned that it’s not all about me. I’m not going through life alone in my head. I can share my time with others who are living the new normal. Loss is biblical. Loss from our site to be more specific. We carry so much of our life in our head. We don’t ever forget those we stood with, we just think of them always and live the new normal.
    There are people who need someone to talk to that may be right next door. The elderly, children, or those in the hospital with no family close. Be who you wished for while you were a child. It’s a great way to honor those gone and our Savior.

  29. I lost my mum in July aged 86. She was a skeletal husk of her former vibrant self and there were days that I prayed for her to die because of the indignity of her existence (it was no longer a life). Then when she died and the truck hit me, I’d have done anything to have her back. Because while she was here I could see her, hold her hand, thrill in the she way she lit up when I visited her. Thoroughly selfish, I know – but grief isn’t reasonable. Two weeks after she died I went back to work, struggling. My employer told me that I really did need to move on!! Two weeks after!!!! I left my job because I knew that there was no way I’d be “moving on” from my grief any time soon and didn’t want to be around people who were ashamed of my grief.

    I have a wonderful hope from the Bible and my faith is strong that I will see my mum again, well and vibrant as she was in her younger days (both of my parents actually). But right now this raw, unrelenting, gnawing, vicious grief that I feel isn’t going anywhere and I can’t focus on things that bring me comfort all the time but slowly the stone I carry on my shoulders is getting lighter. I know it won’t ever be lifted completely until I see both my parents again (I’ve not “moved on” from the grief of losing dad almost 11 years ago – my ex-employer would be horrified).

    Thank you for such a well written post, and helping us who have lost something / someone to see that grief is what we do to heal. We weren’t designed to ever cope with death – that is evident by our reaction to it, but we all learn to cope in what ever way we can.

    • I am glad you left that job. To be around people who believe (after two weeks!…madness) that you must “move on,” is a kind of poison. Crushingly brutal enough without that, without having to face that every day.

      What you say at the end — “we weren’t designed to ever cope with death” — that really struck me. We usually hear that we weren’t meant to bury our children. And I am not minimizing the special horror and depth of pain of the loss of a child. But I think you are right too: We seem, as a species, to have no real way to bear death. Yes, as you say, we do (usually…) somehow bear it, somehow survive months or years of often incapacitating agony, but it is as though we were not designed to do so.

  30. Your blog and these comments have helped me. My 14 year old granddaughter took her life and the grief is unbearable at times. It has been 1 year and 8 months and at times seem like it was only yesterday. My grief is double pain because I grief for my daughter, son in law, and her siblings. This is a part of our life now and we will never get over it. We all strongly believe that we will see her again someday, in her note she said she had too much stress to bear and would be having the time of her life in Heaven with God. It hurts so bad when others say she is not in Heaven. She was a strong Christian and we will never understand or comprehend what happened and blame ourselves for seeing what the bulling was doing to her. Thanks you for providing comforting words for us

    • Of course she is in Heaven! How dare anyone say differently. Oh, that makes me see stars. Yes, I am certain she is in Heaven. But no matter what one believes, to say differently to the family is….pure cruelty. You have my permission to permanently detach yourself from anyone who has said that or anything else unkind about your beautiful granddaughter.

  31. This is an honest response that I have to say that I agree with:

    http://www.upworthy.com/magic-words-to-say-when-everythings-going-wrong-not-everything-happens-for-a-reason?c=upw1&u=9529d5b38d44e8284c8b36cda7a89c02f3cc21da

    I would also say: DONT’ SQUIRM….Don’t squirm when the grieving person wants to TALK ABOUT THE PERSON WHO DIED OR THEIR LOSS…I don’t talk a lot about my husband who died six years ago because I see people squirming when I mention him – perhaps they don’t know what to say, or they’re afraid I’ll start crying….the best thing you can do is just BE PRESENT – if the person cries, let them; if the person wants to talk about their memories concerning the loss, let them

    Peace be with and upon you all

    • Yes, you are correct, yattwood. Seems though, that there are many who simply cannot just listen and be with the suffering person, “be present,” as you say. Maybe sometimes it’s possible to tell those people what you need? But I think most of the time they either get it or not, and most do not. Or, if they get it intellectually, they just cannot do it. I myself cannot be around those who cannot. I am lucky to have family and friends who ARE present. Those who cannot be, well, I’m not exactly in touch with them right now.

  32. My very large family had been lucky. For the first 43 years of my life. I am the youngest of 7 children. My brother 3 yrs older than I am was taken in a wreck in 2010. Shock, devastation, hopelessness, utter despair; are what I am left with 5 years later. I never understood grief. I had to put a horse down I’d had for 18 years during a horrible divorce so I pushed those feelings back. Couldn’t slow down long enough to grieve long. But THIS, having the rug jerked out from under me and not getting to say goodbye to my best friend in life, more than I thought I could bear. I’ve made 5 years 4 1/2 months. I’m not ok, this is still very raw. Reading your post about grief I began to see why I lost all but a couple of my friends. I didn’t know any other reaction except a great sadness for the void and pain for my aged parents. I was consumed. I attended 4 weeks of grief counseling and although it was informative it made me focus on his death and not his life. He always had me laughing to tears, and I him. Thank you so much for putting it out there. It makes me understand why those friends are now gone. 8 months and a day later we lost our dad. Saw that one coming for 2 weeks. Painful to say the least. It was a life event I always thought that one brother would be there to help me through. Still in mourning, as you put it, I’ll never get over the loss. I wonder how long my sentence is. God bless you all in your walks.

    • I feel like I want to say something, but I don’t know what to say. I am grieving the loss of my only sibling, not quite two months now. You talk about the friends leaving. For me, I’m not quite sure I care a whole lot right now. I have one friend who is hanging in there with me, and I consider myself fortunate to have at least one person who understands. But right now, mostly, I just don’t feel like I care a whole lot about anything. It’s like some very important part of me has literally died. Yes, I know my brother died, but I now feel somehow ‘dead’ inside. And when you say “I wonder how long my sentence is” I wonder what you’re asking here? I can imagine, but… So in a way, I find myself now feeling like I just need to ‘live out’ whatever the rest of my days are–not really caring a whole lot what they’ll be. It’s an incredibly agonizing valley to be walking through, eh?

    • Cindy you nailed it. I didn’t care that the friends left. I quit gardening, it was June. I never came outdoors except to go to work. My yard and plants died it was a reflection of my insides, as I felt dead and numb. My other siblings never mention him. Still. Yes it is agonizing. I always thought that grief would eventually go away before he died. Boy was I wrong. Every day I still wake up and have to try to accept this all over again. This is not healthy I know but this is what’s happening to me. God bless you Cindy, I’m glad you have someone hanging in there with you. I wish you peace in your heart and mind.

  33. i also have lost a son 20 years ago and it still hurts , life is different without him for sure he would have been 38 this year he died when he was 18 of a brain tumor..Life is not fair but what is fair ? you learn to live with the fact that he is never coming back and that is that…his memory lives forever in me and will never die until i die…your stories are good and i am not alone in this world to experience losing a child and he was my only son …God Bless and keep writing ..

    • My sister lost her 22 year old daughter who was pregnant and had her 10 mo. Old in a car that was driven by my brother in law (a second sisters husband) and that second sister who was a passenger. My niece, her 10 mo old son and the baby she was carrying died after being struck by a train. The mother of my niece and grandmother of the children and the second sister pretty much died that day also 4 years ago. The mother stopped living and the second sisters survivors guilt is more than she can bear most days. To everyone on this post, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, I’m going to repost this and tag my grieving relatives. Thank you for sharing

  34. My Dad, my rock, my hero, passed October 24. Yes, it is new and fresh and oh so raw. It was time for him, we as his family told him he could let go…and he did. From the moment he took his last breath…I wanted him back. This grown woman has cried for my loss…but it is the little girl inside of me who continues to cry, to sob, to miss him so. We had a father-daughter bond that was so very, very tight. I am so new to this amount of pain…plus I did not cry when my best pal passed suddenly. The combination of the two…wow, how do I handle that?

    • I am so sorry for everyone’s losses, I will continue to pray for ALL of us who mourn, because I know it will never go away. We grieve tremendously because that is just how much we love our dearly departed. My son Stephen “Stevie” Juarez passed away at the young age of 28 on February 24, 2009. And my nephew Andres “Paul” Valdez passed away on December 08, 2009, age 37, same year. My son Stevie had colon cancer. And my nephew Paul had lung cancer, never smoked. Life is cruel and hurtful. My son had to leave his son Gabriel, who is now 18. That was the part that hurt so much because I know my son Stevie did not want to leave his only son and all of us. Now I have Stage111C Inflammatory breast cancer, diagnosed on February 6, 2014. I will do all I can to fight this horrendous disease. I pray daily for strength and courage for All who mourn just so we will be able to go on, until we meet our dearly departed, again. My son Stevie was smiling right after he was born, all the way up to his last weeks, his “Smile” was a gift from God and very contagious…I miss You son, love Mama

  35. Thank you so much for your post. My husband of 39 yrs passed away 9/1/15 he was 57 my heart always feels heavy..your post and the discussions following made me feel not so alone with my grief

  36. When my mom passed away, I lost my hero and the woman I loved most in this world. I could give you a million reasons why, but those reasons are mine and mine alone. In the early days of this ugly word I call grief, I looked for answers. The rabbi said something quite profound that stayed with me and it mimics some of the sentiments in this blog.

    He said: “You don’t get over it, you don’t get through it and you don’t move past it as some will say to you; you integrate this in your life.”

    I feel like this blog and post is a refection of what he was trying to share when I was hit with this life changing grief monster. I hope these words move someone in a way they moved me that day.

  37. This is so true ..I lost my mom 4 months ago and I know this is gonna hurt till the day they lay me next to her I guess it also depends on how close you were to the person that passed away.. And being my mother we had a good relationship..it’s only been 4 months I cry everyday and will continue to cry for the rest of my life..and for the people around me now and 5 years from now will never know feel the pain I have and I would never wish this feeling on anyone even my worst enemy it’s horrible.. I miss my mom so much she was my rock.. She will be in my heart for the rest of my life.. And I will grieve for the rest of mine..

  38. I stumbled upon this randomly as a Facebook friend “liked” it. I really needed this today. I lost my mom over 10 years ago and I am still processing this grief. I hold a lot of guilt and sadness in my heart that I’m trying to become OK with. Thank you for writing this.

  39. Thank you for this. Every word you wrote tells what I wish I could say to others. It feels very validating to know I’m not the only one with these feeling though I wish the reason for them didn’t exist.

    Miss you, Dad.

  40. Part of me, the little girl inside, is devastated. Although I am now 59, I can remember all too well watching my Daddy leave on yet another mission (military man) and sobbing because I thought he would never come back. He always did…until October 24th. His earthly journey had finished and he was so tired, so frail, so ready. I thought I was, too, but that’s The Big Lie. The entire family dynamic has shifted and I don’t like it…but there is nothing I can do about that. Strange as it sounds, and maybe even petty, I knew I always had my rock; I was good to go. Out of we four siblings I am now at the bottom…rock bottom…since Dad took his last breath. My mom loves us all but the dynamic goes like this: youngest, my sister fraught with issues; younger brother who I adore but he was and still is momma’ boy; older brother who I also adore but like they say first come, first served. And lastly…there is me. My hubs lost his Dad two years ago, his Mom much longer ago. He tries, he really does. But this is between me and my Dad and my God…and the tears well up again. I am just so, so sad.

  41. A very heartfelt read. Thank you for the honest words. Whether you are doing the grieving, or (in my case) loving someone so deeply who is grieving – it truly is a unique and difficult path. There is no timeline. There is no one solution. All we can do is love, be love, give love, share love. Love. Thank you 🙂

  42. I was only nine when my mom passed away–she was only twenty-six. I’m 32 now, and each milestone, each holiday, etc., brings on a brand new wave of grief, and each one feels different. She’d been a quadriplegic from spinal cord cancer since age 20, and I know she was tired of fighting, and quadriplegics really have trouble fighting off pneumonia (which is what took her from us), but I would still give anything to have her here with me. The pain doesn’t go away. It becomes part of your person. The day she died, I had to grow up in so many ways. You can’t have that youthful feeling of invincibility when you watch your mom, barely more than a kid herself, lose that battle. And at the same time, it made me resist growing up in other ways. I needed to keep something in me that was childish to help me remember her, if that makes any sense.

    Each death I’ve experienced has affected me in a different way, and always intensely. I’m a feeler–emotions drive me in a big way. When my beloved dog, who we’d adopted nine months after my mom passed, had to be put to sleep, it was like losing my mom all over again. Having many older relatives and a large extended family, I’ve lost a lot of loved ones over the years. Right now, I’m watching my 77-year-old [grand]dad fight pulmonary fibrosis, knowing that it will take him from us before too much longer. My grandparents raised and adopted me, so my granddad IS my dad. My mom was their only biological child, and I was hers. I’m already grieving this.

    I’m sitting here crying, feeling all the grief all over again because I can’t help it. It does stick with you for the rest of your life. You just learn to compartmentalize it so you can live your life. But it’s still there, right below the surface. But at the same time, I wouldn’t want to not feel it ever again. It tells me I still remember her, even if the details have grown fuzzy over the years.

    I know what I’ve written is a bit disjointed. I’m a decent writer, I promise, but when it comes to grief, sometimes all you can do is let the words come as they may so that they can be said/written, and that’s me, here, now. 🙂

  43. My father was and still is a horrible person, an abuser that destroys everyone around him including my co-dependent mother. I escaped that and have spent precious years healing myself. I wish that I had a love like you all had. I mourn for what should/could have been for our family, my parents, siblings. Don’t mourn, rejoice in the fact that you had something so precious. God Bless

  44. Great, terrible stuff. I lost my daughter to cancer earlier this year and understand for the first time what grief is… It is cold, persistent, and unrelenting. And I agree, it is my unfortunate companion now. God bless.

  45. Thank you all for sharing. It has been 3 years since the death of my husband and mother. I can relate to every word written. It also helps when I can read what I still am unable to put into words. I still cry anytime anywhere. Not caring who notices. Not hiding, but not wanting to have to explain the tears. A vicious cycle of the stages of grief with a spoonful of hope mixed in once in a blue moon.

  46. I lost my dad just over 9 months ago. What you wrote is something I couldn’t have said any better. It gives me permission to go on grieving. You let me know it’s okay. I don’t have to rush the “process,” which I’m beginning to think is less of that than it is a way of living. Living with grief means it doesn’t end. It changes over time but as you said, until the day I breathe my last breath, it won’t stop. I’m rambling but what I mostly want to say is THANK YOU!

  47. My husband died on 14th February 2014 [yep, Valentines day]. No one and I mean no one [whatever your beliefs], will know how it feels until they have experienced it. Everyone grieves in their own way and the bereaved have to learn their ‘new normal life’. I honestly believe that the first year you just exist in a permanent fog, the second year is when it really hits home. Ironically, the second year is when people have decided that you have been through the worse part and you are ‘coping really well’.

  48. We buried our youngest child 2 1/2 years ago. But it feels like yesterday. People want us to “move on”. What dies that mean? Granted, we have 2 other beautiful children and 5 georgous grandchildren that we cherish and love on. But, there is nothing that replaces our youngest child. The tears come at the oddest times and sometimes I rile at God and waste myself. My husband and I can only find peace in each other arms. I am grateful that we have each other. Thank you for your blog and for people’s comments. It makes me feel more sane.

  49. Pingback: The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving | The Memories Project

  50. I myself have been visited and continue to be visited by grief my one huge and many other significant losses. I appreciate your article, as one thing I have done is never put an amount of time I allow myself to grieve. I have never believed in an amount of time allotted to feel the pain I feel through loss. There is no expiration. And yes I too grieve as I breathe. Thank you for being raw about loss I believe this type of “rawness” and honesty will help others to understand a bit more. Cheers

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  52. For almost three years now I’ve been grieving my mother. It comes in spurts…like unexpected thunderstorms that creep up on you on bright sunny days. I feel incomplete, purposeless. As if a vital organ had been removed from my body, leaving me crippled and useless. Thank you for posting this and helping me realize that I have not lost my mind. I’ve simply lost part of my soul and that is a condition I must accept.

  53. I lost my mom over 50 years ago, when I was 14 years old. I have never stopped feeling her loss. People pass and things happen in God’s season, it is not for us to know why, only to continue on.

  54. Pingback: The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving | terry1954

  55. Such beautiful truth you have shared here….. “And strangely (or perhaps quite understandably) those acute attacks of despair are the very moments when I feel closest to my father, as if the pain somehow allows me to remove the space and time which separates us and I can press my head against his chest and hear his heartbeat once more. These tragic times are somehow oddly comforting even as they kick you in the gut.” I truly know how this feels.
    Thank you for sharing with us…
    cate b

    • Your words : “press my head against his chest and hear his heartbeat once more” —
      oh if only. sigh.
      I understand what you mean, that the most painful moments are oddly comforting. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true.

  56. Losing my mom was the worst thing that could ever happen to me! I know I sound selfish because I want her here with me! Knowing she is in Heaven, though, comforts me! Knowing she is in the hands of my Father, Jesus Christ, makes me feel better! Now, she feels no pain, no sorrow, no crying! In Heaven there is none of that! No negativity! Everything is perfect! I can’t wait to see my mom again! To be with her! To hug her! To speak with her again! To touch her! But, until I do see her again, there will be grief beyond what I could ever have imagined! The grieving process, for me, has just begun! And now that I do grieve, I know that it will never stop. . .until I stop breathing!

  57. Oh, God…to be able to say it the way you have said it! I lost my husband of 34 years this April, my father (of ….years…not telling!) this October. (I was 4 when I married, long story) I’m trying to get a handle on the grieving, but it’s like mercury out of a broken thermometer…! As a rule, I’m good. In certain unpredictable moments, I’m a freak…and the people around me expect more, sometimes, than I can possibly give. Thank God for the camaraderie of those who are on the same road as us, though the road is often solo…sometimes people KNOW. Thank you for this article, it has inspired me.

  58. So very well said. We lost my 15 yr old granddaughter, my daughters only child, May 2014 and never again will I be “happy”. With many things in life, no one can understand certain things without experiencing it. Still…. I have the expectation for people to understand. We will never be the same person, ever again. It has shaken everything I spiritually believed, I just don;t know anymore. It’s being trapped in a living hell. No more Christmas decorating, Thanksgiving? All Holidays have a grayness attached and I wait to see if I will ever see her again or if I will just no longer exist.

    • Patricia, I am glad to hear someone speak of shaken faith. I think people often believe that if you are a believer, that that belief should just “carry” you through everything. Well, sometimes it does not. I do not think that makes one less of a believer. Yes, in some cases you can lose ALL faith and it simply never returns.

      But there is something else, a crisis of faith, that happens to many many people when something as horrific as what happened to you happens. FELLING ABANDONED BY GOD — or the universe, or spirit — IS A NORMAL REACTION to extreme grief. And it IS a living hell. As someone who does not personally believe in a hell after death, it IS hell. That is, hell does exist, and it is right here on Earth.

      I do so very very much hope that somehow things shift and the gray that covers all that was once joyous recedes some, that somehow the Hell on Earth that you are now in falls away a little bit. It is a year and one half since your granddaughter died, but that is not so long. So things may be a little different later on, I do not know. But, what you describe is real and a reasonable human reaction to this unthinkable loss.

  59. Will it cost me if I follow you, and receive your emails. If their is a cost don’t put me on your list. I have already been scammed before with freebies on Pintrest. Please let me know. Would I have permission to print your material or do I need to contact you? Thank You.

  60. My grief will probably be laughed at by others. Smirked at. And yet, it is completely and absolutely real to ME. My little service dog of 15 YEARS, Annie, died recently, and I simply cannot get over it. I know she isn’t the same as a person. I know that. But to me…. she kinda WAS. She warned me of seizures before they happened, she never left my side, and was my very best friend for 15 years. I am utterly crushed, and truly, don’t know if I will ever get over this pain in my heart. It’s not a matter of, “go get another dog.”

    • Oh-my-gosh! I totally understand. My cat of 16 years died a year-and-a-half ago and wow, yes, it can be just like losing a person. I woke up in the morning with her next to me, and went to bed with her next to me. She trusted me and brought me immeasurable joy. So yes, I totally, truly understand your pain. Mostly, I’ve dealt with her loss by trying not to think about hear a lot. When, in my minds eye I see her jumping up on the bed again, wow!, that pain seriously takes my breath away—like it was yesterday. So don’t let anyone every take anything away from you saying anything to the effect that she was ‘just’ a dog. Loss of a love is loss of a love. Pain is pain.

    • Tina, I totally understand your grief and pain. I lost my sweet Daisy on January 26th, and I still cry every day. She was my sweet baby, and I miss her more than I can express. Her sister is lost without her and I do everything I can to keep her happy and well, but I rescued them on the same day and they spent 10 1/2 years together every day. I KNOW I will see Daisy again, when it is my time to cross that Bridge, and you will see your Annie…I believe this with all my heart. I just wanted you to know there is someone out here who truly understands your pain and loss. You are not alone.

    • Any pet should be considered family and loved as such. I’m sure the bond with a service animal is even stronger. I still grieve for my dog who died 15 years ago. She was the truest friend I’ve ever had and I am honored to have had the privilege of being her human for 16 years. She got me through my first broken heart, some very rocky teenage years, an abusive marriage and was my greatest support through 4 pregnancies. She curled around every one of my babies when I brought them home in just the right position to help them sit up and would appear to be a proud second mother to them. Even when she had gone blind and was in pain, she still had a “what can I do for you” attitude. I really thought they were going to have to bury me with her.
      Do not ever feel that your grief isn’t valid and certainly don’t be ashamed. Anyone who doesn’t respect your mourning doesn’t care for animals and you should probably not bother with that relationship. I really believe that a person who doesn’t like animals has no capacity for sympathy, empathy, love or basic kindness. You clearly loved your dog and provided a wonderful life. Therefore you must have a beautiful heart and will find that all your kindness will come back to you.

    • I was more devastated by the loss of my 14yr old cat than by the death of my mother. The grief was different for each of them, but when my cat passed away I was completely undone. I wept and could not stop for weeks. The pain was literally physically. For one thing, my cat was much nicer to me than my mother ever had been. A deeply pathetic truth, I know. And so I had just lost a ‘friend’, a living being who had showered me with gentle affection and attention, daily, for 14 yrs. The cat had my mother beat hands down in that regard. No, animals are not interchangeable. Absolutely not. Not any more than people are. It is not a simple matter of going and getting another dog any more than it would be a simple matter of going and getting another husband if the one you have dies suddenly. Or, in my case, a daughter. Seanna would have been 24 on November 14th. It’s been 8 yrs since her death and I’m far from “over it”. It doesn’t get better, it just gets different. I’m deeply sorry about your good friend and companion who took such good care of you. I have seizures as well and would have loved to have had a buddy like that. Since I don’t, I have ended up with serious injuries and severe chronic pain as a result. Grief will have its way with you regardless of what you’re doing, so please continue to take care of yourself whilst you grieve, friend. Do the necessary. Blessings to you…

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  62. Reblogged this on jisbell22 and commented:
    This is so true. The story of grieving… It is helpful to read this words to help me normalize and to put in perspective the pain of loosing to this life one of the most important people in my life.

  63. Dear John – Yes, I completely agree with your heart here. In the first few years after loosing my 9-yr old son to a horrific school bus accident, I was blanketed tightly in my grief, rolling in the deep dark seas of pain. At about the 5-yr mark into the new grief-laden me, I finally began to emerge from the dark and peel off some layers. What I found was a new me – yes, you are right – I would never be the same person, Tommy’s momma – again. As the years have gone by, I have learned to live and love, to survive, Dear John – Yes, I completely agree with your heart here. In the first few years after loosing my 9-yr old son to a horrific school bus accident, I was blanketed tightly in my grief, rolling in the deep dark seas of pain. At about the 5-yr mark into the new grief-laden me, I finally began to emerge from the dark and peel off some layers. What I found was a new me – yes, you are right – I would never be the same person, Tommy’s momma – again. As the years have gone by, I have learned to live and love, to survive, joyous celebration. Yes, I still cry at times, but after all, he is worth it – he was a beautiful boy, my son. He will always be worth it. And so will your Dad. Let yourself feel what you will feel, when you feel it. At some point we learn to live with that empty spot their earthly life filled in us, and embrace it for the love that it is. And then we live again <3

  64. Reblogged this on Macjoyful's Minimal Musings and commented:
    From the article:
    “Grief doesn’t just visit you for a horrible, yet temporary holiday. It moves in, puts down roots—and it never leaves. Yes as time passes, eventually the tidal waves subside for longer periods, but they inevitably come crashing in again without notice, when you are least prepared. With no warning they devastate the landscape of your heart all over again, leaving you bruised and breathless and needing to rebuild once more.”

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  66. Thank you for giving a voice to how grief feels. My father passed in 1996, and to this day, I remain in a state of grief. I have good days and bad days, and slowly, the good ones are beginning to outweigh the not so good ones. Still, there are little, unexpected moments where I’ll be doing something and suddenly, I’ll think of him and how he would have responded or reacted, and suddenly, the sense of being shattered to my core overwhelms me again and I am lost in that emotional agony for as long as it takes to run its course. I don’t believe we ever truly “get over” losing someone we’ve loved. But, like you said, maybe the grieving stops when the breathing stops. Have a wonderful day…

    • Perhaps the grieving never stops, because the loving never stops. It’s not been quite two months since my brother died and although I’m moving through my days in a way that might appear ‘normal’ to anyone watching, the pain is still raw, and I have this very keen sense that it will always, always feel that way whenever I think of my brother. I am sure that some day I will experience moments of joy again, but I suspect that even then it will be some how, even in a very minimal way, ‘less than’ what it would be if my brother were alive. Loss just takes a bite out you that I suspect never allows you to feel your life as completely ‘whole’ ever again…

      • I hear you, Cindy. I feel the same way about my father, who passed in 1996. I don’t think we ever truly “get over” the loss of a loved one; rather, I think we just slowly learn how to cope with their absence…

  67. I remember when I was in the darkest early stages of grief, it seemed like the grief kept me close to my loved one.
    Thank you for sharing about your grief. It not only helps you to express it, but also helps others to see they are not alone.

    • So the you refer to your “…early stages of grief…” does that mean it does lesson some??? I lost my brother two months ago and I’m finding this pain to feel unbearable. It feels so strong sometimes that I feel that it alone could kill me. I always expect I’ll feel the pain of losing him for the rest of my life, but right now I can’t imagine it ever feeling any less??

      • My heart breaks for you in the loss of your brother. Two months, that’s so recent, and so very difficult to get through. I know how it seems like time stopped for you, but for everyone else it keeps moving forward. That unbearable pain becomes more tolerable over time, but I can’t say how much time. For each person it’s different. I think we always ache to be with the ones we lose, but eventually, we just learn to live with what is. I wish I could say something to comfort you … help you through this grief that feels like it can kill. It’s something that many of us have lived through. I know that if I can make it through, anyone can. My warmest wishes to you, Cindy.

    • Thanks, Lori. Really, just knowing that others understand, that they have already walked this road, helps so much. It’s probably the only thing that really does help. I have two friends, one here in town, another one in another state, who totally understand, everyone else seems to not?? But I feel grateful for those two, and for people–like you–who are willing to ‘lend a hand,’ so-to-speak. It really is just the most horrid thing to go through, I really couldn’t have imagined how bad it could be. And I am normally a very ‘strong’ person–I’m usually the one lending support, but this has me beat, hands down. I’m in the process of finding a support group to go to, which I suspect may be helpful. But, again, thank you for offering your support! It means more than you know!!

  68. This is so beautifully written and speaks volumes of truth. I can certainly understand and I agree with everything you’ve written here. Thank you for putting this out there. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  69. My husband passed away suddenly 8 weeks ago, we were married for 33 yrs. 3 kids and 3 grand babies under the age of 5. The pain is so unbearable at times I can’t stand it. The nights are what are getting to me most, I hate to go to bed. One day at a time I will get through it but I will never be the same.

    • I feel like I understand what you’re saying. In a way, I describe it as living in a totally different world now. And there are times when I feel totally unbelieving that I can bear this kind of pain, it just doesn’t seem possible, it can, at moments, feel like this pain, by itself, is enough to kill me too! I almost feel stunned that, at times, I awake every morning, having to do it all over again. And my loss was a brother; I can’t imagine how losing a spouse, someone who was by your side every day–and at night, when you went to bed, how even much worse I might feel. I am so, so very sorry for your loss!!

  70. Pingback: Stand Up to Grief - Let in the Light and Breathe - Five Spot Green Living

  71. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. My sweet mother passed at the age of 79 a little over a year ago. During that first year I had so much to deal with that I had to continually push the grief back down, I had been dealing with it off and on before her final breath as the grief actually began prior to her passing because she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. They call it the long goodbye. I grieved so many things prior to her actually moving on to her heavenly home. Yet I learned so much as well. I learned about unconditional love and grace in ways I couldn’t fathom before this horrid disease took hold of her. And now, as I walk this new journey of grief, I see it also as a journey that teaches me about the grace of God and the grace we need to have with one another. I am thankful that I have time now to let myself grieve more openly and get what you meant by feeling a healing of sorts in the moments that you allow it in- that “nexus between total devastation and gradual restoration” as you put it. When you lose a loved one, grief, as you stated, “puts down roots” and our response to that can bring new growth to our soul as we embrace and experience it. God bless us all in this journey of grief and grace.

  72. Pingback: Letters to Tuvia #77 Another Step (11-12-15) | Digital Bonnie

  73. I lost my Mother, my best friend, my strongest supporter, the rock and inspiration of my life, the end of September this year and find your eloquently written piece very comforting. Ever since her loss, my life has moved in strange ways, coincidence after coincidence, as though she is directing me on my path without her, watching over me as I had cared for her.

    Yet another coincidence, this was published on my first birthday without Mom. Thank you

  74. It’s been 20 years since I lost my first husband and best friend. You never stop grieving. It gets just a little bit less each moment. I remarried after year 6 and have been for the last 11 years. I think of him often and I wonder about the what ifs… But I love my life and my now husband, sometimes I wished that things were different. But in the end…. I’m right where I need to be…

  75. Pingback: Five for Friday | The Morning Drive

  76. Thank you for your elegant and searing honest observations. I’m now sitting in my car missing my wonderful husband who has been gone almost 17 months and sobbing.

    • I am so very sorry for the death of your beloved husband, Pat Taylor….a hole left in your heart and soul that will never quite close…..you hurt, because you loved and love him.

      My husband died in 2009, and I miss him every day – I miss his wonderful soft voice, I miss the things we used to do together….I miss being scared when Mr. “WarpSpeed” would get in his Corvette (the man was not slow, let me tell you!) and take off (ha) – I miss all of that and more.

      In your pain, grief and loss – I hope you also cherish the wonderful, even funny memories you have of him; I hope you have special people around you that you can talk about him and cry as much as you need to.

      Blessings, healing and peace – Yaca Attwood

  77. I have to say I totally disagree with this. I lost my Mom to pulmonary fibrosis 11 years ago and my husband unexpectedly 4 months later. Our daughter had just turned 5 when all if this took place. While I did grieve and still do on occasion I don’t let grief run my life. I had a baby to continue to raise and do it the best way I knew how all on my own. I miss them everyday but know that I will be reunited with them again. So knowing that I choose to live my life to the fullest and continue to raise my daughter the best way I can! We all have that day when the lord will take us and I am content that that day has come and gone for my Mom and Husband! I still do shed a tear on occasion and hate that they are not here for all the milestones of my daughters life but know that they share in the joy of them when they do happen!

  78. Each year my Surgical Technology students write a research paper on death, dying, and the grieving process. I have them do this because many of them are young enough to have not experienced the crushing pain that can come from losing a loved one. I want them to be able to empathize with the patients they will ultimately care for, as well as their families. Some of the comments in this thread seem to lack a whole lot of compassion for those who are grieving. As I read them, I thought, “Wow!! These are supposedly Christians?” Grief, and grieving, is an individual process. Everyone will experience it slightly differently. This was a beautiful piece. Thank you, John!!

    • That’s odd. I just read nearly every comment here and found almost all of them unusually compassionate toward others who are grieving and cathartic for how honest they are about how brutal loss actually is. I found them quite “Christian” responses. Yes, it happens that there’s a pretty harsh one just before yours; maybe you only read a few and that was one of them? I suggest taking another, possibly slower look, Ken.

  79. Pingback: A Swift Kick | Exercise Through Grief

  80. I am so very sorry for the loss of your father, John. I cannot imagine your pain, and I probably could only empathize just a little bit. My sister passed away in 2007 from complications of Multiple Sclerosis. She was three months to the day short of her 30th birthday. I have the same disease that has no cure. I know what possibly could happen, and all I can do is just make adjustments for it.

    Yes, it is technically true that every story has an ending. BUT that does not decrease the pain one single bit. And that is okay. I especially agree with your last sentence, and I know my mother would too. The day we both stop grieving is the day we stop breathing.

  81. In regards to this article: Love love LOVE the last sentence. Words to cjerish for sure! And what this article doesn’t quite cover is that people also lose sympathy when they don’t understand the relationship you had. They almost demean it. I lost my dog. Yes, dog. My beagle whom I met when he was one. I was his and he was mine from that day until his last, 16 years and 3 months later. And when someone asked me two months after his passing if I was still hurting over it, I wanted to punch her and immediately ask if it still hurt. It was ignorant and a bit shocking, considering how sweet she had been. But she’s never had that relationship, so she doesn’t know. But this article is a wonderful summary of the emotions you feel when grieving. Wonderful stuff.
    In regards to the comments I’m seeing: I will say that as a Bible-believing and 100% devoted Christian, when people quote Bible verses to me as comfort I often feel *very* guilty that I’m not giving the pain to God. I feel like I’m doing something wrong by not clinging to those particular words. It is a deplorable feeling and could make someone suicidal. I cannot imagine how someone feels when they don’t share those beliefs and they hear these words. But to the people whose replies I’ve seen on both sides, I am very sad to see you resorting to nasty words degrading one another. To the people attempting to comfort, try something along the lines of “I cannot imagine how you feel. Any time you want to talk it out, I’m a good listener.” And then be that good listener. To those who weren’t comforted, you know that lashing out and speaking these horrible things doesn’t actually make anything better, so don’t do it. And to those who have handles like “Savedbygrace,” maybe don’t use profane language and harsh judgements if you’re really trying to spread His name, joy, and message.

  82. It is a gift that I was sent your article today.
    My daughter Callie died a year ago on the 20th on December. She had a brain aneurysm and surgery on December 16th. She had complications and never woke. They put her in a controlled coma, her brain swelled, they did all they could, but she lost her life at 30 years old.
    She had so many friends throughout the United States and the world I could not believe it! At the celebration of her life every person there told me stories of things she had done for them, part of which I knew, much of which I didn’t. The 15ths memories were of hope and the doctors saying she was going to be fine they could take it right out fix it, she was talking and we were laughing and she was going to have surgery. Today is difficult because the fb post a year ago today memories, which is the day she had surgery and things started going downhill. I sent her off to be healed and instead she died. The rest of this month will be memories of the time passing until the 20th . On that day she was declared legally dead and gave her organs and her corneas to others . At that time I was lifted up that in another hospital someone was waiting for a heart and was going to live . The same with her other organs . It still makes me happy that people are living because of her generosity but I am so sad to be without her. She was my everything and had not the opportunity to do so many things. I have listened to the you should get out, she’d want you to fill in the blank, you can’t keep on like this, she’s gone but you’re still here- perhaps the cruelest of all.
    As the rest of this week and this month play out I can’t tell you what I will feel from day to day. I know her spirit is somewhere beautiful, and she has friends young and old with her. But I also know my life will never be the same, not even close. It was always the two of us and the only comfort I have is that she went to sleep, just went to sleep. But there will be no Christmas here and we share a birthday, she was born on Easter. I don’t know how long it will be until I see her again but she’s the first thing I want to see, the only thing I want.
    Save your Bible verses that I can quote chapter and verse. Children should not die before their parents. It is such a horrible event that there is not even a word for what I am now. There are words to describe other losses including widow, orphan, but nothing to describe a parent who has lost their child.

    • I am so very sorry over the loss of your beautiful, special daughter, Jaynee…a hole will be left in your heart and the hearts of your entire family…I hope you have those around you who acknowledge and honor your grief

    • I agree, losing my boy just last week has flattened me. The stories have been amazing. Many people were blessed by his life in such amazing ways. But it wasn’t supposed to end this soon! My boy has barely lived! I can’t hug him, stand beside him at his graduation from college, wedding or birth of his child. No family gathering will ever be complete again.
      Like you I know where my child is too. I know that his body was broken and damaged. So he had to go. But it still sucks.

      I hope you have strength and find comfort when the moments that kick you in the gut come. Everyone seems to be moving on but my world is still on hold. I mourn with you and I am sorry!

  83. John Pavlovitz has another post on ‘The Empty Chair’, relating to grief during the holidays…this season, it simply just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me – not glitter-y, feast-y, decorat-y, gift-y; the carols ring hollow, I barely notice the lights, and all the jewelry commercials with happy engaged couples just set my teeth on edge…
    I’d been wondering why, figuring that six years had passed since my husband’s death in 2009, I guess I figured that _I_ was somewhat “over it”…but I realized that my grief is still real, still present.
    I find myself just drawn to two songs…one is really weird; but I find myself listening to Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” over and over (my husband did have a very wicked sense of humor)..but the song (and I tend not to listen to this sort of music a whole lot) that brought things home to me is James Cleveland’s gospel song “I Stood On The Banks Of Jordan” – it just expresses the loss I’m feeling…

  84. I think there’s a sorta “rule-of-thumb” on grief; a year to a year an a half, in going through the “shock” of loss and then to actually work with the different feelings. For ONE loss; is one thing, BUT. Dealing with SIX(6) losses(close together, in time); PLUS. Added to those loved ones loss; personal loss, makes grieving “DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE”.

    In 2003, I lost my father. 2006, my 2nd wife. 2010, my 3rd wife. 2011, my Mom-in-Law, from my 2nd marriage. 2013, my Mom. 2014, my Mom-in-law, from my 1st marriage. ADD, to all this; three cats, two homes, two jobs, going through SIX(6) hurricanes in TWO(2) years(seasons ’04 AND ’05-West Palm Bch, Fl). AND, two(2) suicide attempts.

    As I said, it’s pretty “DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE”……………………….

    • It sounds like you have post-traumatic stress syndrome, actually. And that will complicate and compound your grieving process. It is a long slow process, but it is possible to recover. Best of luck to you!

  85. Thank you. Beatifully said. I don’t get people who tell others “move on already” or start laughing the next day after their parents pass away or their pets. I just don’t get it..

  86. This is so very true, every word of it, and it is exactly how i feel, this is a life long journey that I’m on and I know it, I miss my darling son so much it hurts each and every day of my life

    • I’m happy I found this post. My beautiful 25 year old daughter Meghan was found hanging in my back yard. Her brother Todd is a wounded warrionr who spent 15 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Traumatic Brain Injury Center in Tampa Florida. My husband requires 24/7 care and shortly after my daughter’s death 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with several chronic and neurological conditions. i always used to pull myself up by the bootstraps as we say in Boston. This time however, the the pain was far to deep. Yes, I believe in God and am grateful to know that my daughter is in a better place. As a nurse, I had the opportunity to deal with many dying patients who saw a beautiful light and beautiful colors and music so lovely words can’t describe it. Still I grieve terribly. Over the past few days I have sunk into a DEEP depression and can’t seem to shake it. However, I am trying to keep it in a day at a time and pray for Jesus to possess me and keep me in His loving arms. I have no one here to comfort me. I am alone . Everyone grieves differently but we all need support. Losing a child is like NO pain I havce ever experienced before. My father, sister, nephew, niece and best friend die. I took care of many relatives and friends before they passed. Yet losing a child is different. Having another child who is not the same due to his injuries is also devastating. My calm, happy go lucky son is gone. Now an impatient, stressed out man ,quick to anger has replaced him. Thanks for listening and I hope people will stop being hurtful to each other on this site. WE ALL GRIEVE HOW WE NEED TO GRIEVE!!!!

      • My heart goes out to you! I truly cannot imagine your depth of pain. I was just moved enough to reach out to you and ask the God of all peace and comfort to continue to provide you with whatever you need to keep putting one foot in front of another, and to put people in your life to help support and encourage you along the way. Seek help for yourself as many times as you need it. Never stop fighting for your emotional and spiritual health. Even when you feel like you are losing ground, I truly believe that God is still there in the midst of you pain, carrying you. Ask Him to show you His love in a way that you might see and feel His presence. On the other side of despair I have found the grace to remember the darkest times as my clearest personal proof that God does exist, and that He really does love me despite myself and how I feel at the time.

  87. I needed this article. My son was killed in a car accident on his way back to college Less than two weeks ago. I have never been this sad for this long. It truly sucks.

    But I must say I am saddened even more by the ugly comments and nasty exchanges. We have all joined a group that, in the words of a friend, no one clamors to join. It doesn’t matter what our beliefs are, we need to support each other bc this sucks and it is a hard walk. Just my opinion and we all have them and are entitled to having them.

  88. I lost my 14-year old son in 1991 and his 34-year-old sister in 2009. I’d already lost my parents by the time my daughter died, and we had also lost our best friend to suicide and another close friend to cancer in 2010. Each kind of grief is unique. My son’s death was the hardest because he was still living at home, and when he was gone it was noticeable every mealtime and bedtime and every afternoon when he would usually tell me about his day. The months after his death were almost incapacitating. It was hard to continue everyday routines and it was hard to remember important things in running our lives. Without our faith and our friends I don’t know how we could have gotten through it.

    After about three years the grief became more manageable. With every passing year it becomes less fresh, and I remember the wonderful memories more often than the horror and shock of learning he had died in that accident. Yet at times I can still remember every detail and it all comes rushing back. I never know what will set it off. To anyone still in the beginning stages of grief, I send my sympathy. I can only say that someday, a few years down the road, the worst will be over and you will be more functional and the world won’t seem as dark as it does now. Talk about your loved one. Bring him back to life for moments with your good memories. Try not to dwell on what might have been. Healing takes time and the schedules is different for everyone. Unless you resist it, you will heal, but you will still have scars. I am very thankful that I had a son I loved and miss as much as I do. I will always miss him until I see him again. I suspect that day is coming pretty soon now.

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  90. Well very written-grief is something you never get over, only get through with the help of friends, family and perhaps faith. It is like an ocean whose waves wax and wane…my condolences on the loss of your father 🙁

  91. Very inspirational thank you! It really hit home, I’ve been at a loss lately more these days then before trying to understand why I still hurt deep inside still. This out it into some focus. Thank you again for sharing!!

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  93. My profound condolences John.

    Thank you for posting this. Something you said near the end of your post made me think of something that I heard someone say when her daughter was killed in a sporting accident – that the greater tragedy would be for her daughter to never have been born. I was only a few months into my own grief at losing our 21-year-old daughter to a car crash, but I remember thinking that someday I would love to be able to look at things that way. And slowly, SLOWLY it is happening.

    I also used the thing that you said above as the inspiration for my own blog post – http://get-unwrapped.blogspot.ca/2016/04/the-cost-of-sharing-your-life-with.html … just wanted to let you know.

  94. This is strangely reassuring to hear. Just the other day had to google “average human grieving period” because I’m now nearing on 1 year since my loss and wasn’t sure if I was still supposed to be feeling such heartwrenching sadness.

  95. My father died on December 22, 1970. I was eleven. We buried him on the day of Christmas Eve. Every year since then, even after all these years, I grieve. Of course, it has lessened. There were some years, those first years, when I hated the Christmas season because of the inevitable depression and sadness it would bring. After having my first child, it was much better. Still, amid the festivities and meals and family togetherness, I remember. Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of cheerfulness, goodwill, and death. I don’t know. Now, every year I give myself a day to be sad. A whole day. Recently I noticed that it doesn’t take a day any longer, but only an hour or two. I do not miss my father any less, and do wish that he could have at least met my daughters. As I have approached and now passed the age he was when he died, I realized that I am older than he will ever be. I better enjoy every minute of the time my Daddy never had, for him.

    • A grieving mother near me just realized that her son has now passed the age that his older sister was when she passed away. That, in itself, has affected her in indescribable ways.

  96. It has been said, “Grieving is like peeling an onion; it comes off in layers–and you cry a lot.”
    I prefer the following:
    Grieving is like digging a well…before modern technology.
    It’s not until you get to the bottom of what you’re digging for that you truly realize how deep it is…and to find out how deep it is, ya gotta look up–and feel the Sonshine!

  97. I’ve only recently seen your blog, but I’m pretty sure no post you write, or that is shared with me will not be met with tears that ultimately stream down my face. This one is no different.

    I held my child as she breathed her last breath three months ago. So yes, I know this is still so new. In that regard, reading this terrifies me. It tells me that this pain will continue a lifetime, and I can’t escape it. Sigh. I know that losing anyone results in grief. Losing my daughter seems to have ushered in an entirely new me.

    If I’m being honest, I should tell you that I find extreme comfort in these words as well. But, in the spirit of honesty, I’d also tell you that your statement about the day you stop grieving is the day you stop breathing makes me long for that day. It takes an enormous amount of self control to not speed that process along. I’m concerned that the desire not to do that won’t always be loud enough to cover the voice that tells me to speed up the end.

    Okay. So that was entirely too dramatic and self centered. My apologies. I’ll go now, for fear of continued speaking. God knows what I’m apt to say next.

    So, I’ll choose the next that simply says goodbye, and also says thank you for sharing your heart. It spoke directly to mine.

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  99. I find Buddhist perspectives on suffering to be most realistic and compassionate. If you look up the Four Noble Truths, you can just begin to scratch the surface. But beware, most people misunderstand these truths. However, with careful, mindful, compassionate consideration, it seems to be the most loving, caring, and compassionate perspective on life and suffering that I’ve ever heard or experienced. There’s no judgement with what you’re experiencing. Only awareness. Conscious, compassionate awareness.
    …May all beings experience peace…

  100. I have postponed grieving for 30 years all because of my Church. While dating girls in high school I was smitten by a boy with an incredibly sensitive and fragile soul. He was in great emotional pain and “my spirit” was trying to push me to do everything to ease his pain. My Church said having a same-sex relationship was a sin and I was too young and naive to know better, so I stayed away from him. Five years later he committed suicide and because of the anti-gay environment I was in I suppressed the grief, until it came back with a vengeance 30 years ago. I realize now that this “spirit” was the Holy Spirit directing me to do the right thing, whether or not the Church agrees with it. The grief and pain are still there but I can live with the fact that this was a no win situation. Defying the Church also meant defying every single authority figure we were under in High School and our peers; such defiance it usually punished very harshly, possibly fatally for both of us. I cried, prayed, and talked to Jesus about this and I know he forgave me long ago, but I found it more difficult to forgive myself. I am trying to come to peace with this and accept me for who I am. It all hurts but I know I have support from Jesus, even when there is no support to be seen. But it still hurts and probably will always hurt until I pass on.

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  102. I lost my soul mate / love of my life 8 years ago. It was an accident and he did not survive. You learn to deal with the pain and sorrow, but the grief never ends. It never goes away completely. It will change you in ways you never imagined.

  103. Thank you for so beautifully putting grief into words. As of today I will have lived more than 1/2 my life without my Dad! It has proven to be an extremely hard day especially because I was not expecting the wave of grief to blindside me like it has nor hit me so hard – you see my dad has been gone for 23 yrs. now. The waves of grief are more like splashes, quietly reminding me that my heart is missing someone dear to me. Grief has marked my soul like a birthmark hidden under my clothes, it is always with me but seldom seen, it does not hurt but always aware that I carry it with me wherever I go.

    One day I will see my dad again after I have lived the next 1/2 of my wonderful life & experience all that he was not able to – I will embrace what is yet to come & carry him in my soul – always!

  104. Mid-Summer 1976 while camping along California’s Coast my oldest son was hit by a motorist who fled the area. We didn’t know at the time what had happened, found him curled up on his bed not breathing, lips blue along his skin. Before I started CPR I remembered the story about Abraham and Issac and cried out to God to let me see him grow up as I set him down he started breathing. His personality was altered that day, but this holiday season is bittersweet for me and my wife because his memories of things long ago (40 years) are returning or at least new mental pathways are forming that mimic pior life experiences are forming. I am not insensitive to losses my 3 brothers and father all died early, morbid obesity, diabetes , strokes, and hard attacks. And just last year my Mom’s passing at 93.. She received Jesus at 87 and I witnessed a change in her life and am hoping to meet her again along with Jesus.

  105. It’s been 5 and 1/2 years on Friday since my husband of 39 years (41 years of knowing and dating total) died of a brain aneursym suffered two days earlier. While most of the time now I am fine talking about him and seeing pictures of him, of us together, or of our family together, there are times when my heart still starts to ache and my eyes get watery. Today, reading your post is one of those times. I feel for you, and, yes, the grieving doesn’t really end with the death of a loved one. My daughters, while they miss him, don’t totally understand where I am, and probably won’t until life happens to them. In the meantime it helps to remember the fun times and the memories we created over all of those years. And to know that one day I will be with him again.

  106. I was blessed to live 42 years of life before having to face the reality of death. I usually just say that my family offers their condolences. Someone who had experienced death first hand a myriad of times, pointed out years ago how inept it seemed for line of people walking past 4 coffins that contained his family members to say to him “i am sorry!” He said he hated that phrase- why did they say sorry? It is not like they crashed the plane my family was in.”

    Those remarks stuck with me.
    As someone who has suffered the enormous grief and loss of a loved one, i would like to know if the following statement is at all comforting?

    Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. Death is a horizon, and a horizon is just the limit of your physical sight. Love is eternal. Keep the memory of your loved one in your heart and mind, and they become immortal. One day you will also be transformed to see beyond today’s horizon and will be able to see that eternal, immortal love is waiting for you. Sincere condolences until you meet again.”

    Is that comforting or does that also cause pain and annoyance from a grieving soul?

  107. My husband passed away in November (just reached 3 months as a widow) and this really hits home. I have reblogged this, I hope you don’t mind.

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  109. Perfect timing. This appears to have been written a couple of days ago, but the link appeared in my time line just a few moments ago, exactly 72 hours and 12 minutes after my beloved partner of 30 years passed at the terribly young age of 61. I cannot imagine any future without her, at least not any with any joy, and right now I’d be happy to just get through any task without having to stop until the sobbing passes. It is good to know someone understands, and it’s not just me. Thank you.

  110. To love deeply is to grieve deeply. We cannot have one without the other. When our hearts hurt as we grieve, to focus on the gift of the love helps to navigate the pain. There is nothing greater than to love another. When it is time to say, “good-bye” it becomes the most difficult of journeys. Thank you for sharing this, John. Beautifully said!

  111. Everyone of you are so right. I lost my husband 7 years ago, have fought so hard to move on, the dating scene, keeping things up, new job.. the whole thing.. When he died I had 3 dogs.. Recently lost my last one and now the grieving seems to be hitting harder than ever.. I’m just so tired and miss everyone so much. The only thing that saves me now is the vision of my husband and all three dogs waiting for me now.. Love and hugs to all of you..

  112. My father passed 15 years, 2 months, and 3 days ago. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about him. Most days I have happy memories or thoughts. Then there are the days when the pain is so real as when he just took his last breath. I don’t think I will ever stop grieving. I just hide it from everyone. The pain of the loss of someone you love never goes away. You just have to learn how to deal with it.

  113. Sometimes people are lost to us while they and we are still among the living. The grief is overwhelming, even as we hope for reconciliation in this life.

  114. The pain never leaves you, ever. Just some days, periods of time are good, others are very difficult to handle…..it’s been almost 12 years since my cousin took his life, there are times it hits very hard…..

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