Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness; they are a sign of a pure, loving heart.
We all know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely shocked when it happens to someone we love. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.
Angel and I have dealt with the loss of siblings and best friends to illness, so we know from experience that when you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open. And the bad news is you never completely get over the loss – you will never forget them. However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news.
You see, death is an ending, which is a necessary part of living. And even though endings like these often seem ugly, they are necessary for beauty too – otherwise it’s impossible to appreciate someone or something, because they are unlimited. Limits illuminate beauty, and death is the definitive limit – a reminder that we need to be aware of this beautiful person, and appreciate this beautiful thing called life. Death is also a beginning, because while we have lost someone special, this ending, like the loss of any wonderful life situation, is a moment of reinvention. Although sad, their passing forces us to reinvent our lives, and in this reinvention is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places. And finally, of course, death is an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life, and to be grateful for the beauty they showed us.
That’s just a small slice of what coping with loss has taught us, and I’m sure it has taught you some things as well.
But, as Angel and I have recently been reminded, there’s a big difference between understanding how to personally cope with loss and understanding how to help someone else cope with it. When someone you love and respect is grieving the loss of a loved one, the right words and gestures rarely come easy.
So the reminders below are for Angel and me, as we attempt to comfort a dear friend who is grieving. These aren’t universal clarifications, but simple guidelines that give us a general starting point for helping our grief-stricken loved ones cope and heal, gradually. Perhaps you will find value in them as well.
1. A person who’s grieving already knows that time heals wounds, and they don’t need to be reminded of it.
When you’re grieving, everyone wants to remind you that time will heal your pain, but no one can seem to tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to cope right now. And that’s all you really want to know.
Because it’s right now that you can’t sleep. It’s right now that you can’t eat. It’s right now that you still hear his voice, and smell his scent, and sense his presence, even though you know he’s not here anymore. It’s right now that all you seem to be capable of is crying. So despite the fact that you intellectually know all about time’s power to heal wounds, if you had all the time in the world right now, you still wouldn’t know what to do with the immediate, intense pain you feel.
Realize this, and treat those who are grieving accordingly. Don’t remind them that time heals. Instead, remind them that you’re with them right now, and that you’ll be available tomorrow too. Remind them that you love them, and that you’re standing beside them through their grief. Remind them that they aren’t going through this alone.
2. Grief doesn’t suddenly disappear, and some days are much better than others.
When someone you love passes away (or simply leaves), and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose them all at once. You lose them a little bit at a time over weeks, months and years – the way snail mail gradually stops coming to an address, and a person’s scent slowly fades from the pillows and even from the clothes they used to wear.
Everyone grieves in their own way. For some of us, it could take longer or shorter. One thing you can be certain of, however, is that grief never completely disappears. An ember still smolders inside our grieving hearts, even when we’ve moved forward with our lives. Most days we don’t notice it, but, out of the blue, it may flare to life. This reality is hard to deal with. We think we’ve accepted that they’re gone – that we’ve grieved and it’s over – and then BOOM! One little thing happens, and we feel like we’ve lost that person all over again.
This is exactly why caring for someone who’s grieving requires incredible patience. (Read Healing After Loss.)
3. The grieving process exhausts and consumes a person, which is why you can’t take their withdrawn behavior personally.
Relentless exhaustion is a common side effect of grief. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be an overwhelming and excruciating experience for a while. Also, someone suffering from grief may feel OK one moment and feel completely heartbroken the next, even if the environment around them hasn’t changed one bit. This can result in them canceling plans, departing get-togethers early, or saying no far more often than you’d like. Just remember it’s not about you – it has nothing to do with what you did or didn’t do. These are just some of the prevalent side effects working through the grieving process.
Do your best to not take anything they do too personally. People can only give to others what they have, and deep grief takes almost everything away from a person. All your actions and words should come from a place of love, but that doesn’t mean your grieving loved one will always be loving in return, and that’s OK. When you do not take things personally, you liberate yourself – you open yourself to loving someone who truly needs you, generously, and without letting needless expectations get in the way of the immeasurable amounts of support and affection you are capable of giving. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. A person who’s grieving still wants to smile about the good times, and it’s OK to help them reminisce.
In the long run, grief can devour us, or it can enlighten us. It depends on what we focus on. We can decide that a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end earlier than we expected, or we can recognize that every single moment of it had more meaning than we dared to accept at the time – so much meaning it frightened us, so we just lived, just took for granted the time spent together every day, and didn’t allow ourselves to consider the sacredness of it.
When a wonderful relationship ends abruptly we suddenly see what was there all along – it wasn’t just a hug and a smile, not just a long walk together, not just meeting for lunch and talking about politics, people, and another day at work. It was EVERYTHING – all the little intricacies of life shared by two souls. The answer to the mystery of living is the love and respect we share sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss awakens us to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of a wonderful relationship that’s been lost, we’re driven to our knees.
When this happens to someone you love – when they are mourning the loss of someone they love – help them focus on all those good, imperfect times worth smiling about. Help them counterbalance the weight of their loss with the weight of their gratitude for what preceded the loss.
5. Grief can be a burden, but also a healthy anchor for healing and living well.
As human beings, we sometimes get used to the weight of grief and how it holds us in place. For instance, Angel once told me, “My brother will die over and over again for the rest of my life, and I’m OK with that – it keeps me closer to him.” This was Angel’s way of reminding me that grief doesn’t disappear. Step-by-step, breath-by-breath, it becomes a part of us. And it can become a healthy part of us too.
Although we may never completely stop grieving, simply because we never stop loving the ones we’ve lost, we can effectively leverage our love for them in the present. We can love them and emulate them by living with their magnificence as our daily inspiration. By doing this, they live on in the warmth of our broken hearts that don’t fully heal back up, and we will continue to grow and experience life, even with our wounds. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character.
Just knowing this and keeping it in mind, I think, can help us help our grieving loved ones dance again, gradually. (Angel and I build gradual, grief-healing rituals with our students in the “Pain and Hardship” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
If you have personal experience coping with grief, or if you’ve helped others cope with grief, and you have additional insights and tips to share, we would love to hear from YOU. Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
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Photo by: James Spencer
Marc and Angel, just as I’ve come to expect from your incredible work, this is a beautiful piece of writing. I love that you’ve focused it on helping others through grief. I’ve been helping my sister cope with the passing of her 35-year-old husband to cancer. It’s been a difficult journey over the past year. But I agree with what you’ve shared here. In times of deep grief, I will hold my sister…and take her grief and make it my own for awhile. When she cries, I cry, and when she’s hurting, I hurt. And together we try to hold back the tears and despair…and just make it through this bumpy road of life, together.
Also, I want to let you know that your book has been referenced many times by both my sister and me as we’ve battled this grief together. Thank you.
Thank you for this article and all your helpful articles. I am going through the worst time of my life now dealing with my grief over the loss of my 24 year old son. Remembering Sean Dortch you tube is a video of my talented son. It is so hard when I see boys or men of any ages because little ones and teens take me back to the past and older men take me to the future that I was robed of like not seeing him get married or become a Dad etc. He was killed as a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver. I am trying in my heart to forgive the driver but what was taken from our family due to such careless actions by another makes it difficult. I know that I want to see my son in heaven when it is my time to leave this earth so I will work harder at forgiveness.
I just watched the video of your son because I read your comment. I loved his speech at Chelsea’s wedding – quite a sense of humor. My heart aches for you. Prayers of comfort and peace for you.
Kevin Benson says
This is a tough topic to write about and I think you did a great job. I especially appreciated #5. Truly, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for truly loving someone with our whole heart. And it’s worth it, even when it comes to an end.
Your blog and emails continue to move me, M&A. Thanks, yet again.
My brother died more than 35 years ago and not a week goes by that I don’t miss him. The acute pain fades, but the loss becomes a chronic “condition” that flares up when I least expect it.
Your list of ideas of ways to help someone grieving is excellent. My whole life changed in the moment I heard about my brother — I reversed course and made some drastic decisions about my future, including cutting my long hair short, changing my plans for grad school, and moving overseas. What would have really helped me would have been someone to talk with — b/c I also got a divorce when I found I was married to a guy who could not provide ANY emotional support.
Hannah Kenway says
It’s a very difficult topic – but also an essential one and it casts wonderful clear light on a subject that so many of us feel unease around.
These simple points are so very useful. I’m really grateful for this post.
Thank you! Not many people honestly know how to help those who are grieving. It is a daunting task so most step away especially when someone needs them the most. My friend lost her 13 year old son many years ago, she called every day for over a year and really all I had to do was listen. There were no magic words, there were no lessons to be taught–all she needed was someone to listen to her tears, her stories, what were her hopes and dreams for this child she lost. Sometimes her thoughts were irrational and during those times I would gently pull her back, but other times were just a mother talking about a great loss. 22 years later she still tells me this is what saved her during that first year.
Thank you for another wonderful and helpful article. My mother died in January and while I am getting used to it, I still have my bad moments/days which my husband finds hard to cope with. I will forward this to him with a gentle comment and hope it helps him cope.
Wow ….everything you write about always touches me so deeply, and seems to be there when I need to be reminded of things. My husband passed away after 25 years of marriage. Prior to that I losses a dear friend and 2 family pets all within a year of each other. I really didn’t think I could go on but made it through, however I thought I would never love again. I met someone approximately 2 1/2 years after my husband passed and did fall in love again, unfortunately it did not work out and he ended it 15 months later. I’m not really sure what went wrong, but his wife had passed away just 6 months prior to us meeting, so I think it was just too Soon for a relationship. Anyway, I am learning that grief comes from many different directions, and it’s something that doesn’t go away. Time doesn’t heal wounds. You just learn how to cope and deal with the pain better. It gets a little easier sometimes, but is always there. I feel like my grief has definitely pushed me into new transitions in my life. It has forced me to leave my comfort zone, and make changes with myself, that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Ummul Choironi says
Last time when I lost my mother or a special person, writing has been my personal way to put myself into perspective about the nature of life and death. In it I expressed my gratitude of having them in my life, living up all the wonderful experience we had together, how they had been good and remarkable person had helped me to accept their departure. In time after the broken heart healed and I missed them, I could look back into my writings to bring them to life and be thankful for the moment we had together.
Beautiful! I have been struggling for a year with the loss of my love, not from death, but grieving just the same. He has moved on & getting married. Difficult to say the least but as always & for years your articles hit the core.
Yes, this hits close to an event that happened to me 18 months ago. My husband of 14 years just left me for another woman. I was devastated. You are right it was a great time of my life and very hard moving on . Working my way through the loss and my 4 grown children patiently listening to me, talking to me and helping me come to the conclusion that I needed to move on. I have started fresh and am reinventing myself. New area to live, new job,new friends and a better me. But this event has a bearing on all my current and future decisions. I was given a challenge,I learned how to cope and move on . My life is better and I cherish my family and friends for weathering the storm with me. We all have this inner strength, we just need to tap into it. You can do it. Something painful can turn into the next chapter in your life.. If your in this place ,my heart goes out to you,but you will make it. God bless ?
Raymond G. says
Dear Marc and Angel,
I get your letters everyday and really look forward to reading them.
I just lost my lovely lady friend/lover, God it is so heartbreaking, we were together for six years, Rosie had some serious health issues yet through it all she was a tower of strength. Having had my own trials and very rough patches, Rosie knew how to get me to a better spot emotionally and yes closer to god as well .
Rosie knew her time was close and asked me to be there to the end, I held her hand and spoke lovingly as she drew her last breath, was thereat the wake and funeral.
As sad as one is when their loved one passes, they are or I was so in shock, we go to the funeral and all the other things that must be done BUT when that is over it is just you in an empty house.
Rosie loved wind chimes, so when I come into the house I make sure I touch it so it chimes and say,”Hello Rosie” or any time during the day. Keep loving the one you lost… I talk to her during the day and have some of her favorite things on a table and cards and pictures from friends on the wall next to where her bed was, sort of a wall of remembrance. You do not want to GET OVER this, you want to know how to deal with it without becoming a basket case. Keep thinking of the good times together and know that your loved one/friend is in a much better place where they are, never hurting again and are with their loved ones too. I think of it now and I saw Rosie’s quality of life really declining and that too is a very sad thing. Thank you Rosie for six wonderful years with you and to God who let this happen.
Don't poke the bear says
Thank you for this post. Grieving a loved one’s passing was for me, for a time, traumatic. I was shaken to the core. I was physically hurting and not sleeping. I wondered how I could go on. And then I found a grief support group through a funeral home, and I listened to the mostly male participants who had lost their wives. It was so enlightening and I felt blessed that they shared their deep feelings about their loved ones. It was very courageous, as many of them were now alone in life or felt that they were. It helped me to see that my grief reaction was OK, that I would be OK, and that I could love again. This was a great help as I processed the pain of my loss.
I also agree with Kevin it’s a tough topic and I say u did a wonderful job. I also am a writer and there are times when things need to be said to heal but the time and place u must go to write from a clear space … it’s a hurting thing. I have been dealing with the loss of both my grandparents and mother all to soon and yes its a void that’s never filled it gets better or easy as time goes on bit it can all come back with a blink of a eye and it feels as if it just happened .yes u never get over it u just learn to deal as we continue this thing we call living.thanks M&A you guys do a wonderful job never stop sharing your thoughts of wisdom with others. Luv u guys and peace and many blessings to all.
Thank you so much for addressing this difficult life situation and sharing your insight. The majority of my family and friends have furry family members. Though one can adopt another furry family member, the loss of their daily companion is heartwretching.
Thank you. In the past 4 years, I’ve lost my husband to cancer, then my father, then my dog, then my boss, then my younger sister. I didn’t know when my grieving for one person stopped, and when the other one started….it became a collective experience. I’ve noticed that any death, effects me so profoundly it can actually scare me. At times, I thought I was going crazy. I’m fortunate that I have a wonderful grief counselor. Your words here, have touched my heart.
I was with my brother, alongside family, when he died just over 2 years ago. The first year was busy doing not so much feeling but over the last year I’ve felt quite traumatised by that experience. On the one hand knowing it was sacred and special being together at such a time and the other feeling so overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to be with the memory that I couldn’t hold or erase it, it was mine. (The last few hours of him being here were very chaotic and distressing) I read up on PTSD to try and get an understanding and also to allow myself to feel the trauma alongside grief, but ultimately I didn’t want him and his passing to be about that. It wasn’t about the last moments it was and is about his strength in dealing with his illness. His personality, courage and his life. Reading your words “my brother will die over and over again and I’m ok with that – it keeps me closer to him” have shed light to help me think that maybe I’ll be ok with that too.
Many thanks and blessings
I’d like to add. While speaking to a loved one who has lost a loved one, don’t repeat over and over that nobody is going to go to the funeral, or other insensitive comments. It is hard enough losing a loved one without dealing with insensitive commentary being made by other supposed loved ones.
Sadly my father never got over the loss of my mom. She died in a car wreck, she was driving. My father and I were both with her. They were very young, mid 20’s. He is now 80. He wore his grief until it became his coat of arms. He is the victim over and over again. I was the reminder child, which sometimes happens in cases like this. As a result, he could never bond with me. He once told me, I feel you’re more a friend than a daughter. Of course I acted out as a teen. He didn’t want to know my son who lived three miles away. So that grief was passed to my child.
My father is what I call a successful alcoholic. Made a good living and in fairness was a very good provider. But an alcoholic prone to serious rage. Which made coming home really scary sometimes. My dad just existed. His depth of what could have been a loving family never could grow because he hung on to the grief and the trauma of losing my mom. He opened up one day and finally cried about it in front of me. What could have been an incredibly healing moment became the final crack in our frail link. He has decided to isolate himself with his dog, garden and wine. He has a wife who loves him but knows she can’t fix him. We have not talked going on three years. Occasionally I text and check in, sometimes he responds.
I share all this because I truly believe that it is just as important to not only support the person who has had the loss, but also to make sure that they have access to grief counseling and support for PTSD if the death was traumatic or violent so that they know they don’t have to make it their coat of arms..
Anne Turner says
Superb piece of writing , lost my son at 23 years of age to Cancer four years ago and the last year has been the hardest bit it’s like it is worse than when it happened if that is possible. Thank you for writing this piece.
Joanne B. says
This was so beautifully written from the heart. I have not lost someone close to me in quite awhile, but as life goes on, we know that loss is a part of life and will come again. For now, understanding grief-whether it is my own or that of someone I love- is perhaps easier to comprehend when we are not under pressure of the loss. These words I write here now are so trite but your writing has reminded me how fragile life and love truly are and I am reminded of perhaps the time I have ‘wasted’, taken for granted. I especially liked your analogy of life being like a staircase and we expect that last step to be there when a loss suddenly occurs. That image in my mind will hopefully remind me of how many staircases I have blindly climbed up till now. So beautifully written, I think this is a piece worth saving. Your ways of getting into our hearts and minds are exceptional!
I think letting them talk about it and not pretending like it didn’t happen just because you are uncomfortable with the emotions involved is key. I lost my mom and feel like the journey is mine alone because my family and friends can’t seem to understand the ugly part of grief. The part that hurts and might be uncomfortable to them. My tears and need to talk about her help me heal but I have not found that other person to journey with who can handle that. Everyone wants you to just “let go” and accept it. I was being told that three weeks after it happened. People think not talking about it so I don’t cry is helpful. When really the most helpful thing would be to talk about it and cry without feeling like I am making them uncomfortable. This is key. And has made my journey the loneliest and hardest journey. I know there were good times. I think actually letting the person grieve, without feeling bad about feeling bad would be the most loving thing anyone can do.
Nixon Matasio says
I like your choice of your words in this post. Very encouraging for those who need it most.
Nancy Kavanagh says
When my father died in 2014, I didn’t think I would ever be able to breathe again. I cried every day and night. Everything you wrote in this post is so true. The one thing I tell people is it doesn’t get any easier-it just gets different. I don’t miss my father any less today than the day he died. It is just different today than it was that day and different than it was yesterday or two months ago. Grief is different for everyone, even for siblings. Thank you for this one today-it touched my heart.
Lori S. says
This is a great post. When I was just 21, my 6 year old son was killed in a school bus accident (yes I had him very early in life). I was also 8 months pregnant with my second child.
Being so young and having never lost anyone before, I was totally unprepared for the emotions that came with the loss. Not only unbearable grief, but anger, rage, wishing I had been a better mother, wishing that he hadn’t left for school that morning angry with me because of a silly fight…regrets…so many regrets. And you can become completely irrational. I actually tried bargaining with God to get “my son” back – that he could have this new baby if I could just have my son back. I know – it sounds horrible now and I can’t believe that I even thought that – but I did. You are not really sane or logical.
So you REALLY get upset with people who come along and tell you logical, sane things – such as those you’ve discussed. I actually screamed at one very well meaning person who said that “time heals all wounds”. I asked if any of their children were dead – and if not – then don’t talk to me. I was awful.
But it was truly tiring to hear all the same things over and over – and KNOWING intuitively that time will not ever truly heal this wound. And the worst thing is that eventually, the funeral is over, the new baby is born and everybody just expects you to “get on with your life”. It doesn’t work that way – and months later, when I wanted to talk about my dead child’s life and reminisce – no one wanted to listen anymore. Their attitude was “but you have a new baby, why don’t you just focus on her?”.
I think the thing I would say to anyone wanting to help someone grieving is to be there to listen – months – even years later. When that grieving person is learning to honor that person’s life and not have everything about them defined by their death – that is the most important time of the healing process. We will never forget the day our loved one died – but over time, we begin to remember their birthday, instead of the anniversary of their death. Just be there for your friend and don’t get tired of listening – don’t tell them to move on. They have to do that in their own time.
For me – it’s been 34 years – and I still wonder what my son would be like at 40 – which is how old he’d have been this year. But I wonder it now without pain. I also lost my dad ten years after my son – and that time, I was better. Probably because you expect eventually to lose a parent – but also because I had been through the fire once and came out the other side and learned to honor the life more than mourn the death.
Thank you Marc and Angel this topic of grief touches everyone. I’ve dealt with a lot of sadness and I think everyone has a unique journey in the grieving process and we can just love and support each other, and listen but what I found out from grief counseling was most of us don’t tell the ones we love that we love them and it brings this guilt upon ourselves. So when I lost my good friend to cancer twenty years ago I said I would never feel like that again, and from that point on anyone who is in my life I let them know how much they mean to me. Why am I saving feelings shouldn’t people know how much you care about them! So my advice is live everyday like it is your last and share your love no regrets!
This was a really good article with the exception of mentioning the old bromide “Time heals all wounds.” Time does not heal all wounds; you simply get better at coping with the fact the wounds are there and the scabs are ripped off easily.
My husband of 20 years died in 2008 of a rare cancer leaving me a single parent of two teenaged boys, ages 12 and 15. I had to “reinvent” myself since my old life no longer fit who I was. I was also not welcome in my old life; my married friends wanted nothing to do with me and my relationships with them changed completely and ended. I spent the first six years living in our old house and having them finish high school and college; two years ago I moved into my own home in another state far away from the memories and judgement the old neighborhood held. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. My relationship to my family changed as well. I do not have supportive relationships with them since my grief changed me. I cannot be “real” with them as they have no understanding of what my life has become. This has been very difficult.
I do not view my widowhood as a “lesson” or “self-improvement opportunity. I had to raise my adult sons with minimal support and lots of unsolicited advice. I’ve had people try to take advantage of me numerous times and have become a very guarded and suspicious person. I have learned that in the end I can only rely on myself and that was a lesson I had already learned before my husband died.
I wish people had cared more and kept their word. I wish my husband’s family hadn’t screwed me over and ignored my sons. It’s been a difficult eight years, but I’m slowly moving forward.
The best you can do to support a person their grief is to listen and be there.
Debbie D says
Thank you for this. Last week I suddenly lost a very beloved family member. It helped me to know right now at 5 days that I am feeling normal with the heavy weight of grief.
I lost my husband just last month after being married for 46 years.. I took care of him for 4 years, till the dementia got to much for me to handle. He was only in a nursing home for a few weeks before he passed. I also lost my last brother just 2 years ago. Being the youngest of 11 children. I’m the only one left alive. Not sure how to handle all of this. Had to have our Dog put down on the 23 of Dec. 2015. To everybody else. It seems like it’s all over, and I don’t have to take care of him. So they expect me to go on like I never had this love one that is not here anymore. I can tell, they don’t want to hear about how I’m feeling now.
The thing that is getting me down now, I suffered from agoraphobia in the worse way for many years. I finally got where I could leave the house, go places by myself. Not have panic attacks. Now, they are starting to come back. Now, my kids want me to drive a hundred to 2 hundred miles to get away from here for a while. Good intentions they have. God Bless them. They just have no idea what I’m going through.
I just realized while reading this letter from both of you. That I’m O.K. to still feel the grief. I feel so alone, my children, grandchildren, are all so busy with their lives. No time to even call. Maybe once a week if I’m lucky. I do have 2 cats that make life a bit easier. I just feel So alone. I’m not sure how I can get through all this. Thanks for listening. God Bless you.
My all time least favorite thing to hear when grieving the death of a loved one (and I’ve had more than my share) is “I’m sorry for your loss.” Those words feel empty and impersonal to me. My “loss” has a name, face and personality. I’d rather hear nothing from someone than to hear that over-used cliche. My 2nd least favorite sentiment is “You are in my thoughts and prayers.” Again, overused cliche. Just say “I’m so sorry” period, if you can’t think of something unique and meaningful to say, because my loved one was unique and meaningful. Since I’ve experienced these cliches so often, I make a special effort when I need to respond to someone else who is grieving the loss of a loved one to make my sentiment more personal, even just a little bit. And even if it is only an acquaintance. Even, “I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother (father, brother, dog) is better than just “I’m sorry for your loss. That’s my 2 cents worth…take or toss!
Nora Orlando says
Dear Marc & Angel:
I want to thank you so much for all your inspirational messages you post, thank you. This one for grieving is so needed!! and at the same time is quite the “tabu”.
I have endured many passings, my 1st boyfriend was assassinated, lost my daughter, my parents and recently my fiance to colon cancer, was totally unexpected, came out of left field, his first symptoms came late December and past the end of February… May they all RIP…
With my daughter, yes everyone was by my side the first week, from that moment on NO ONE has ever mentioned her.
I would cringed when people told me at least you have your son or you can have more…
I keep her memories alive as well of my other loved ones, I have good days and i have sad ones, wondering how things could be if we were all together, and I sigh, then I also Thank GOD for listening to my prayers and taking all my loved ones peacefully….
Is like you mentioned one day your ok, then the next you hear a song, or hear a certain verse that only you can decipher that code and know it’s from them, letting you know they are ok and then you’re at peace…
Then every birthday, every anniversary any anything will brings you to a tender place of reflections…
I ve learned that people simply will not speak of it , and you wonder, do they even a little bit wonder or remember them or even care?…
Yes you have people that no matter what can not deal with grief until it happens to them sadly, then they say now i understand…. yet a little to late…
My girlfriend just lost her husband to a massive heart attack at the sweet age of 35 . I have been there for her and wished I had a friend like me to have been there for me…
So I channel it differently, I read your inspirational post, I write, listen to music, go to the ocean which I call it my soul food…
This is a topic that needs a lot more attention, people do need to be made aware and not categorize grieving as a tabu, but another part of life that learns to heal as time goes on, you learn to cope, accept, and you do and you have to move on, for the sun always comes out tomorrow no matter what…
Thank you, thank you for all you do, please do not stop!!! you are amazing!!!!
Keep up your awesome job!!!
my sincere thanks and admiration
When I lost my dad, I went into a 3 year depression. Working helped get me up in the morning, but I didn’t really have anyone to talk to when I needed it. Looking back it would have been better to get help. Surprisingly the person who listened was my broker! His dad meant the world to him too, so he understood.
Thank you for another wonderful post. Also thanks to the many beautiful comments from your readers. I take something from every one of them.
I appreciate any chance I get to tell my story. We were high school sweethearts, he had been very sick, and passed away a week before our 36th wedding anniversary. So now, it has been 5 years. I have accepted his passing because I know he is no longer suffering, and in a much better place.
We all do grieve in our own way. No one right way, but many ways to cope. I first started reading your blog soon after, and what I took from that first reading, was to take one day at a time. I still do that. Some days are great, others not so much. But it does help greatly.
Another tool I took from your readings, was to journal my thoughts. I like to write, and this has helped me greatly. I write like I am talking to you.
We were soulmates, going to grow together. I miss him still, as I always will. But also I do not want to be alone anymore. I am not looking for someone to take his place, because no one can or should. But he would want me to keep on living my life. I am 63.
One day at a time. Thank you so much for this post. This is truly one of the most meaningful to me. Thank you.
Gautam thakur says
Its really nice we share our stories. No one can take anyone’s place but someone can definitely be some part of what you need… a puzzle has a broken pieces but once we arrange them we solve the puzzle a little more than before. Life is like that I have found, and you might know a lot more than me — you are 63 and I am 24, like a kid to you. But I wish you peace of mind again, dear. God bless you.
Margery Alice says
I lost my adult daughter last year, she died in her sleep. Unexpected, no warning, she just left us. I never imagined a pain like this. Some days my heart actually hurts in my chest. I wonder if she knew what was happening, if she was scared of being alone. I was with this beautiful soul when she came into this world, why couldn’t I have been there when she left it. So many unanswered questions, why, why, why. They tell me it’s God’s plan. I still don’t understand.
The best way I found to cope with the death of my brother was to write about him weekly to share my memories of him with anyone who would read them. I shared my memories of our lives together, al the good times! I also shared my memories of his death and how I was broken by it, left incomplete not being able to do anything but cry. Writing was my outlet and still is from time to time.
This is written so well…I lost my son 8 years ago…he was 24. I felt like I was a parents worst nightmare at times…
Even my best friend could not talk to me about my pain, the actual physical pain that lingered in my body for years to come…she was kind to me but changed the subject whenever I mentioned my son. That adds insult to horrible injury…and isolation.
So let us talk about our loved ones gone…keep them alive in our lives…the worst thing is for a mother to feel is that their son is forgotten.
Reading this today was the blessing I needed to find. Such perfect timing for my soul.
I lost both of my parents within 39 days of each other, the end of 2013. I had been their full time caregiver. I left my own family to spend the last year of their life with them. They were both diagnosed with cancer. Dad had primary liver cancer, which spread rapidly to his other organs. Mom had vulvar cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I could never imagined in a million years what I had in store for me. Caring for them changed everything about myself and how I dealt with myself. I gave them all of me completely.
It has only now started to make a difference in the way I feel. I feel like I’m beginning to find my way through my grief. It took me a long time to get this far, but I’m finally feeling some freedom to get to know myself all over again. To care for myself. I’m allowing myself to get to know my family again. I’ve stopped closing myself off from the rest of the world. I’m moving forward for the first time in two and a half years. I’m sure that from this point on I will use my time for living and enjoying every moment I have here on Earth. God bless you for reaching out to speak to me personally, and that was what it was. This was written for me. Thank you.
Thank you for this post. I have been experiencing the unexpected loss of my mother through the mistake of a doctor. It has devastated me since December 9, 2015, with the inability to sleep, care about myself and constantly wonder what if, and why. I have lived with her for 23 years and miss her from AM to PM. All I do know is the intensity of a person’s love for another measures their intensity of grief and loss. I have two siblings who walked out of my life, as well as my mothers because they have never really attempted to know her mind, and loving, giving soul. She was my roommate, mentor and the gift God gave me in this life.
I hope this may help somebody, as it is the only way i have survived many losses: I buy a beautiful journal and i write letters to the person or animal i am grieving. Sometimes i write every hour when i am deeply in despair. Sometimes 10 times a day or once a day. All my feelings go into the paper and usually i am crying as i write but i dont know what I would have done if i could not have learnt to do this in my life. As time passes and the grief becomes bearable i write less and my books get placed in a special place.
Cuban Angel says
Thank you for the post. I lost my Daddy 3 years ago. People keep saying ” You will be fine”. Some days are better than others but I still cry for him. My Dad is my hero and I often think of all the times we spent together. I had the honor of caring for him for 4 months before he died. I would do it all over again if I had to. I wish He was here but I know He is with me because I can feel Him. I just hope He knows how much I love Him.
Laura Miller says
I lost my father five years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
Some days are better than others. And while, yes, it does get easier as time passes, what kills me are the little things which can trigger an emotional breakdown. Like the time I was sharing an elevator with a young family. The look of unconditional love in the father’s eyes as he looked at his little girl tore my heart out. Not just because of the close bond my father and I shared, but the look was identical to looks (in photographs) my father gave me when I was that age.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank YOU, for sharing your stories and thoughts on grief with us.
Angel and I just read through all the comments here, and we cried, and nodded our heads.
Sending prayers of strength and love YOUR way.
Pamela Hunt says
I remember when my husband and best friend passed away almost 5 years ago, I wanted so much to be 5 years in the future when I wouldn’t feel that pain anymore. Here it is, 5 years away, and still the pain is there, just as intense, and I still cry over simple things when it reminds me how much is still miss him. I realized recently that grief never goes away and this pain will be with me always – it just stays away a little more than it did when he first left. All of these things that you say are so true and I hope I can be just as helpful to my friends as they were to me when this all happened. My friends and my dog helped me each day. Thank you for sharing.
Joan Moses says
OMW, you don’t know how reading this just gave me comfort coming across this website now. I lost my son Keenan he passed away 2 years ago from a heart attack at the age of 36 in Kenya in his hotel room. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. he was married with two young children zoe 12 and zac 7 oh what heartache I don’t think i will ever recover from this it is a life sentence I get so mad when people say you are strong you will get over it he is in a better place There are so many emotional triggers when losing a child. Sometimes just hearing a song will bring an outburst of pouring tears. Seeing or smelling a favourite food of our child’s can cause the tears to flow. Places things they liked Just thinking about them. We never know from day-to-day what trigger is going to hit us or when. Losing a child is such an unpredictable roller coaster of emotions! Thank you
It has been 8 1/2 months since my husband of almost 27 years passed away. The thing I struggle with now is how invisible I have become. People so often look right past or even through me. I work so hard to keep moving forward because that is what he would want me to do, but sometimes I could really use some encouragement from others.
I have been the main caregiver for my mother, age 98, since my father died 11 years ago. She has had an extremely difficult time dealing with the grief she feels, and often I am unsympathetic as I think I have moved on to accept his death; however, reading your note brought me to tears. Yes, grief can linger and does reappear. Thank you for helping me help myself and my mother.
Helen Giang says
I’ve also suffered from a loss of a sibling. He was my best friend, confidante, and big brother. He pretty much raised me as I saw him as my idol.
You are right when you say they die over and over again. That shooting pain comes out ever so often. BUT it reminds me to appreciate those who are important and to let go of people who do me more harm than good. It also reminds me to live, and to not suffocate myself with work as my moments with my precious ones are much more expensive than money.
I’ve learned so much and to emulate him through my life has been a gift in itself. I’ve met many people and was able to comfort many who have gone through these abrupt deaths.
I’ve got to give you credit for my healing. I lost my brother in 2010, and I haven’t stopped reading your blogs since. It has really helped me cope. In times of need and sadness, I open your blog, and it reminds me I am not alone and all I need to do is show gratitude, because life can be so much worse. And with that, I was able to carry on every day as a stronger person. Thank you, Marc and Angel! <3