Relationships

17 Wonderful Reader Comments on Grief

17 Wonderful Reader Comments on Grief

We’ve shared wise and wonderful reader comments on dating, career and parenting, but today we’d like to talk about something intimate: loss, including a kind thing to do for someone in grief…

On grieving as long as you want:

“Our daughter died at six months old. That was 12 years ago, and we still carry it with us. We can be happy now, we can laugh, we can hope, we can dream, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her. Once I apologized to my sister for not being ok with it after all this time, and she hugged me and said, ‘None of us are. And that’s fine.’ It was so wonderful to hear and allowed me the freedom to feel the grief until the end of my days.” — Sarah

“My dad died four years ago. Some days the loss feels far away, and sometimes it punches me in the gut as hard as the day we lost him. But, two years ago, I decided that it was okay, because grieving is the last way we get to love people. And I’ll always love my dad.” — Anya

Yet it does get easier:

“I once saw an Annie Leibovitz exhibit where she had hung photos of her dying love Susan Sontag, and then her dying father, and her grieving family, alongside these gorgeous vibrant photos of her babies with spaghetti all over their faces and splashing in wading pools… That’s how grief works. For a while, it takes over your whole field of vision, but then it becomes a part of the whole exhibit.” — Heather

“A beloved person told me: ‘Your grief will never get any smaller, but your life will grow larger.’ This has been true for me and for many that I have spoken with in my work as a minister and chaplain. It both captures the profound need to honor the lost love and promises that we will not dwell forever in this particular kind of pain.” — Rachel

“I lost my mom more than 27 years ago, when I was 12. It still feels as if she’s going to walk through the back door, arms full of groceries, at any moment. It’s true: It never goes away, but it does get easier.” — Margaux

On always saying something:

“My mom taught me to never be afraid to mention someone that has passed away. The family has not forgotten, and they want to remember the person they’ve lost. When my mom comes home from a funeral, she’ll make a note in her calendar for six months later, as a reminder to call or write to her friend. This is often when the rest of the world has move on and the grieving person feels most alone.” — Rachel

“I lost my mom eight years ago, just after I turned 20. The other day, someone noticed an expression I made that reminded them of her. I loved that they noticed and said something. I’m cautious not to talk about her ‘too much’ because I worry it will make others uncomfortable. So, people’s stories mean so much, especially years later, when I want to keep the memories alive however I can.” — Heidi

On how it can feel:

“My sister-in-law told me that when her father died and she waited at the airport for her flight home, she felt so set apart and different. She realized why Victorians in mourning wore black arm bands: it alerted society that you aren’t ready to fully engage with the world. And that’s exactly how I felt for the first few months after my mom died — it isn’t just missing my mom, but how do I live the rest of my life without her?” — Elizabeth

On savoring final days with loved ones:

“When my great aunt was sick, we went to visit, and after a long trip to get there I suddenly didn’t know what to do. There were books to read and music to play, but ultimately I sat there and told her all the ways in which she’d enchanted me. How she was a ruthless card player. How I loved her sons, who at 10+ years older were always so kind to me. How at my cousin’s wedding, she and the bride’s father sang a duet of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and ended with kazoos. My sisters and I sang a bit to her – it was the last and sweetest smile from my aunt to me.” — Sonja

“I read poetry to my grandmother in the hospital. She was drifting in and out, but after one poem, I remember her saying, ‘I don’t know that one. Write down who it’s by so I can find more of theirs.’ We brought her home for her last days the next day so she didn’t, but it was such a lovely moment and made me remember that my darling, curious grandma was still there.” — Rebecca

On talking to children about death:

“Since we aren’t religious, I was struggling with how to explain death to our daughter. Then someone gave me great advice: ask the child what he/she thinks happens when people die. No matter what they say, tell them that might be exactly what happens because no one knows for sure. My daughter is now convinced that my grandfather is in a beautiful place surrounded by pear trees.” — Lana

“I’m a nurse in a pediatric cancer ward, so we’re actually talking to children about the preparation for death, versus reacting to it afterward. Over the years, I’ve been asked everything from, ‘Am I going to die?’ to ‘How will it feel when I do?’ I approach each on an individual basis, depending on the child’s age, whether they’re the patient or a family member, and whether their family is religious or not. I’ve found that children who have grown up with a religious background like the idea of heaven and focus on that: what does it look like, who else is up there, can I take my toys, etc. I encourage parents to follow the child’s lead. When they’re not religious, we tend to focus on the more physical aspects. I think honesty, in a gentle, age- and imagination-appropriate way, is the best direction.” — Joyce

On offering condolence gifts:

“I lost my mom a few months ago, and I now know what I’ll give grieving people in the future:
– A plant. Flowers die and can be a reminder of death, but a plant is a reminder of hope. It also forces you to be aware of something outside yourself and gives you a tiny but manageable project. The little tree a friend gave me at the time is five months strong!
– A gift card for Postmates or Grubhub. Everyone generously sent food early on. But two months later, I was alone and depressed and the thought of cooking was unbearable – and I remembered that Grubhub credit! It was perfect.”
Tarreyn

“A dear friend died a couple years ago, and I was devastated. Another friend texted, with no warning: ‘I just dropped some food off on your porch.’ I went downstairs to find a grocery bag of healthy food: a green smoothie, a kale salad, homemade broccoli soup, chocolate covered goji berries. It meant so much to me (and, indeed, was all I ate for the next several days). What I learned is: just do something, anything. I’ve always agonized about doing the ‘right’ thing. But she just did something, right then, from her heart and her adorable kitchen, and I’ve never forgotten it.” — Samantha

“When my dad died two years ago, we were lucky to have many friends and family come to our home. But, that also meant that we started running out of paper towels and toilet paper. Now, when a friend has a death, I always send them tissues, paper towels and toilet paper. It’s not a glamorous gift, but it says nice to not have to run out and buy them yourself when everything is falling apart.” — Cam

On kind things to say:

“Something Sheryl Sandberg said after the loss of her husband really resonates with me — asking, ‘How are you today?’ instead of ‘How are you?’ acknowledges that grief is not linear, and that today feels different from yesterday and it will likely feel different tomorrow.” — Alexa

“I’m a Quaker, and when someone is in need or suffering you ‘hold them in the light.’ As a child, I used to imagine someone wrapped up in a blanket of warmth and light. Now, as an adult, I always reach out to someone who is suffering a loss and tell them I am holding them in the light. Recently, my aunt passed away suddenly, and my uncle went to Meeting for Worship alone two days later. He stood up and shared his loss. Another man then stood up, walked over and sat next to my uncle. Then one by one, each member of the Meeting stood up and sat next to him, surrounding him, in silence, for the rest of the time. It truly is holding someone in the light.” — Nellie

What has your experience been like? Sending so much love to anyone missing a loved one today. xoxo

P.S. How to write a condolence note, talking to kids about death, and one woman’s moving essay about having a stillborn baby.

(Photo by Hilary Horvath.)

  1. I recently started following this IG account, @theimgarinarylibrary (https://www.instagram.com/theimaginarylibrary)–her mother passed away in recent years and she posts beautiful, touching illustrations about grappling with her grief. If you’ve recently lost someone, I think it’ll make you felt very understood.

  2. AH says...

    Oh my goodness, this should have a NSFW warning – I’m weeping at my desk with these beautiful thoughts and gestures! Thank you so much for sharing, everyone.

  3. Thank you for this post. My father died just a month and a half ago. I had never lost someone so close to me and even though he had not been well and lived a full life to age 85, I was still not prepared. I have so many wonderful memories of him and he feels so real in my heart. It’s hard to truly believe that I won’t see him again. I find myself at the store, thinking I need to pick something up for him, then the next second I remember. One of the things that I got wrong about grief before was to not want to bring up the person who passed in conversation for fear that it would hurt those closest to them. One of the worst things is when people haven’t mentioned him to me. I am so proud of my father and want to talk about the good memories. One of the hardest things is knowing that none of the future people in my life will get to meet him. I wrote the obituary and eulogy and found that very cathartic. The more I write about his life, it makes him more real for me. So that’s what I keep doing.

  4. Shira says...

    I lost my son at 23 weeks gestation. I grieve for what was, our short time together, what is – my life without him – and what could have been. People don’t know how to talk about pregnancy loss and so they avoid the subject. They don’t want to remind you or make you sad, I guess. But when you lose a baby you always carry that experience with you. If you ask me how I am doing today, or acknowledge that it’s Mother’s Day and my son isn’t here it speaks greater volumes than silence. On another note, when it comes to grief find your tribe. I have found a group of women who also experienced late pregnancy loss and the sense of belonging and understanding has been instrumental in my healing.

  5. Amelia says...

    I have suffered loss in a number of ways in the past few years and as of late what has touched me the most is a story in an episode of This American Life titled One More Thing Before I Go. It had a story about a phone booth in Japan where people go to talk to their loved ones lost in the tsunami. The power of words, spoken aloud resonated with me. Grief comes in waves and it can be so lonely. The ability, even if merely symbolic, to communicate with those you’ve lost is powerful. I’ve tried to embrace this by talking about lost ones more and by talking to my people here about the things I would want to share. It’s brought some comfort and peace to me. If anything, if you need a good cry, the episode will do the trick.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is so heartbreaking and beautiful, amelia. thank you for sharing.

  6. Erin says...

    My brother died 10 years ago at the age of 28. I can tell you two things I have learned about grief. First, you don’t remember the people who sent cards or came to the funeral, but you will always remember who wasn’t there or who did not reach out. Second, talk often about the person and tell stories. Write a letter a few weeks after the initial shock telling the family a funny story or memory that you shared with the person that the family would not know otherwise. Trust me, those are cherished letters. The family will always have their loved one on their mind, so talk about them. The worst is when others act like the person never existed because they are too uncomfortable to talk about death. The family will let you know if they don’t feel like talking, but 9 times out of 10 their faces will light up reminicing about their lost one.

  7. Anna says...

    Something I read that really stuck with me is to never be the first to let go in an embrace. I think this especially applies to comforting anybody who has experienced a loss. Hold them as long as they need and let them lean on you.

  8. d says...

    My mom passed away 6 years back and it still feels like it was yesterday. My eyes well up everytime I talk about her or someone brings up the topic of mothers (sometimes in professional settings). I feel like I have no control of my emotions. I miss her everyday but want to stop reacting in this. Would be great to hear from others how they stop themselves from crying.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, d, that is beautiful. i’m so sorry for your loss. it sounds like you really really loved her, and it must be so hard not to have her here. personally, if you teared up at an office, and i was there, i would be moved and touched, and not think anything was inappropriate. but if you want a pretty random tip that *might* help (not sure!) you could try this, some advice we heard ages ago: https://cupofjo.com/2015/02/how-to-stop-yourself-from-crying-2/

      curious to hear other people’s advice! and again, i’m so sorry for your loss. xoxo

    • d says...

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I’ve been following the trick of pinching myself ever since I read it on your blog. Sometimes it works, and at others it doesn’t. It’s just so helpful to read through your posts and the comments of this community always. Thank you :)

    • Casey says...

      I find myself able to say “My mom passed away last June” pretty easily. But then RANDOM things will make me tear up and get emotional. I’ve found that a quiet deep breath and just continuing on with whatever I was saying will help. The finger pinch thing helps too. The more I accept “yes this hurts and here are some emotions welling up” and just let the emotions come and keep on going through them (vs against them), the better it works. I can’t tell by your name if you’re a woman, but if you’ve had labor pains, they say to go ~through~ them, vs ~against~ them, and the same seems to be true of emotions.

  9. My brother passed away two weeks ago, so this could not have come at a more opportune time. I learned a lot the last couple weeks, but the thing that became the clearest to me, is that you should always reach out to someone if you hear of a loss in their life. In the past I’ve always been hesitant: “Do they need to hear from one more person?” The amount of love me and my family received over the past few weeks has been amazing, and every single text, email, and message has meant the world to me – even though it’s just a small act of big love.

  10. Elisa says...

    My beloved sister died 10 years ago this November. Whilst there are now days that do go by where I dont think of her as much, when I do find myself reminiscing, I am instantly brought back to her smell, smile and presence. No one talked about grief when this happened and I am grateful for posts like this that illuminate a subject that is so worthy of attention.
    Thank you.

  11. This is why I still read you, the human sensiblity.

  12. Sophia Mellein says...

    Thank you so much for this blog post. I am 30 and have been to far too many funerals. The hurt never gets easier. The sharp reminder that my loved one won’t ever be in my live again never gets easier. These thoughts were really helpful, and came at the perfect time (I am going to yet another funeral of a loved one on friday). Thank you for always having such thoughtful blogposts.

  13. Kate says...

    This post came at such a needed time for me. My dad died earlier this year, and the last few weeks have been particularly difficult. For me it has been so difficult to articulate how grief actually makes me feel, and how it takes a toll on my mental and physical state and has changed so much about who I am. I never realized how isolating the grieving process could be. Reading these comments has made me feel so much less alone, realizing that other people understand, and have survived, and are coping with loss along with me makes me feel so much less alone.

  14. Eleanoe says...

    I lost my mom 7 years ago and while it doesn’t get easier, it becomes a new “normal.” She never met my kids so my greatest joy is doing things she’d love- baking, hiking, camping.. and I’ll tell them about their angel grandma.

    If someone loses a loved one, just be there. The texts a few weeks later, or on the anniversary, meant the world. My first mother’s Day, an aunt called me to tell me she missed my mom too. Meals dropped at my door, a remembrance ornament… I have my bedside table drawer filled with the cards and a blanket a friend made for me after her passing. At first I went in there often, now maybe 2x a year.. but if I’m feeling down I’ll wrap myself in the blanket and read the letters. It really helps, so even a nice note will mean the world.

  15. Jasmine says...

    My best friend had a locket made for me with two photos of him. It meant so much to me and I loved the pictures she used — they were memories of my dad that were special to her.

  16. Laurie says...

    My sweet Dad passed away a month ago. It was just four days before I gave birth to my first child. How does one deal with these two events happening at the same time? It is hard to process and most days I think I will never be able to fully come to terms with what has happened. The numbness of grief and the joy of becoming a mother. Feeling both at once is so confusing.

    I have appreciated so much the people who have acknowledged the loss. We’ve had many visitors to see the baby and some don’t say anything about my dad. I know they likely don’t know what to say or don’t want to upset me, but I can’t look at my sweet daughter’s face and not feel sadness that my dad was so close to becoming a grandfather and never got to meet her.

    • My dear father passed away a few months ago and I got to tell him (while he was unconscious in hospice) that I thought I may be pregnant with a 2nd child. I was sad that he would not get to meet that child, but it made me feel good that maybe he knew.

      Life and death, joy and sadness are so often tied together. It can be hard (and also lovely at times in a weird way) to see this dichotomy.

      I’m sorry your dad didn’t get to meet your new baby, and I’m sending you a big hug from another mom and person missing their dad.

    • Beth says...

      Laurie, I endured something similar. My daughter was born only a couple of weeks after I lost my beloved dad. It was HARD, so so hard. Still is (3 years later). Sending you love and hugs. x

    • Ali says...

      Laurie, I’m so sorry to hear this. I also had something similar happen-my mother-in-law passed away a month before I gave birth to our daughter. I always said it felt like there was joy and grief in each breath we took, and it was such a difficult and confusing time. All she wanted was to be a grandmother and she was so close to becoming one. Our daughter is a year old now, and we still have really hard days. Every time she hits a milestone, or does something funny/cute, my husband gets the urge to call her, and then the pain punches us in the gut. Sometimes I wonder how we got through that time, but I’m certain that we couldn’t have done it without our daughter. She was the light and joy in our families lives during such a dark time, our little star in the night sky.

  17. Casey says...

    Some of these are terrific comments and very sweet things to do – I have noticed a greater sensitivity for and understanding of grief since my mother died last year. One thing I will add – please don’t do “nothing”. If you won’t even say “I’m sorry for your loss” or acknowledge it, unless you’ve specifically been asked not to talk about it, it can make the grieving person feel invisible and as though their loved one didn’t even exist.

  18. L says...

    I just lost my father last month and, while I don’t have the words to say much, I am deeply appreciative of the thoughts shared here and the space offered to do so.

    • I’m so very sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad a little over a year ago and it was so hard. There is no easy way through the path of grief, but I remembered that Joanna wrote here on CoJ that her Mom always said “be gentle with yourself” when times were rough, and that helped me learn to have compassion for myself. I don’t think I’ll ever be “done” grieving, but I’ve learned to acknowledge and feel the grief when it demands to be acknowledged, which was every minute of every day in the beginning, and less demanding and ever-present as time goes on. Take good care of yourself, and know that you are not alone. Sending you a big virtual hug.

    • Casey says...

      The first months are so hard, and the first year has been rough for me. I like the advice to go easy on yourself. I’m so glad you’ve found this space.

  19. A family friend committed suicide this past September and no one saw it coming. I’ve been struggling between sadness and anger and one of the only things to help me process has been the song “No Hard Feelings” by the Avett Brothers. I imagine Tom writing this and it being his release.

    When my body won’t hold me anymore
    And it finally lets me free
    Will I be ready?
    When my feet won’t walk another mile
    And my lips give their last kiss goodbye
    Will my hands be steady?

    When I lay down my fears
    My hopes and my doubts
    The rings on my fingers
    And the keys to my house
    With no hard feelings

    https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/avettbrothers/nohardfeelings.html

  20. Virginia says...

    My doctor told me I had cancer while in Dallas (I live in Chicago) at a hospital tour for a board meeting. A woman in the ER waiting room, no doubt there for an emergency of her own, held my hand and prayed for me while I was on the phone trying to make appointments and alert my family for probably 20 minutes or more. When it was time for me to go to the airport, she gave me a hug and told me that God was with me. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to go up to a stranger and do that. It was the most comforting thing I experienced during one of the hardest parts of my life. And I’ve promised myself since then I won’t shy away from others who need their hand held during times of grief and sadness. It’s not the words, but the presence and acknowledgement, that makes the difference. And I think she’s been right – for over four years I have felt a spiritual presence around me, holding my hand when I have needed it the most.

    • sania says...

      proof angels walk amongst us

  21. Hallie Bateman and her mom just wrote a book on this topic: What To Do When I’m Gone!

  22. Ashley Spivey says...

    I was 23 and I had just moved to New York when my Dad passed away. I found out in a Barnes and Noble and I honestly can’t even remember how I got to the airport. I cried the entire time on the plane. So much that my seat mate moved seats so he wouldn’t have to hear me (not that I blame him). No one talked to me or asked me what was wrong for the entire 2 hours to NC. When we got off the plane a very kind woman came up to me and said, “I don’t know what happened but please know that I’m praying for you.” I lost it harder at that moment and hugged her and she hugged me right back. It was the kindness that I needed. I think about that moment a lot when I see people hurting. I always try to offer kindness like that lady offered to me.

    • Lidia says...

      Wow, this made me tear up at work. It’s beautiful acts of kindness, like this one, that help me restore my faith in humanity. Sending a big hug your way.

    • Angela Nguyen says...

      Hi Ashley, my heart goes to you. I am also 23 and found out my dad had stage 4 lung cancer at B&N. He recently passed away, and my heart is broken. I will say such kindness from friends and even strangers have helped me heal. Sending a distant hug if you happen to need it today.

  23. Elizabeth says...

    In a five year span I have lost my sister, uncle( my second dad), and my grandma. The best thing I received was a basket of all my favorite snacks, and the book Read This Until You Believe It. It’s a short watercolor book with phrases on each page. It was one of the things that felt like a life preserver in a sea of grief.

    • Lidia says...

      I’m so sorry, Elizabeth. Life can be cruel and impossible sometimes. I’m sending love & light your way.

  24. Inge says...

    6 months ago i lost one of the kindest, toughest, most sensitive, beautiful, inspiring and crazy friends to depression. I go through waves of intense joy at having had her in my life, depths of sadness because its like a jolt when i remember she isn’t here anymore, anger because she left us (especially her husband) with no letter and then this weird understanding of the relief she must have felt when she decided to let go. Sometimes i see something that reminds me of our Ness. I still send her insta posts about horses and rhinos. I dont know when the sadness will go away. She is nowhere and everywhere.

    • Katy says...

      Two weeks ago I lost my lovely sister in law too – she had also been suffering from depression. Thank you for phrasing it that way, it makes the load a little easier to bear.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. xxx

  25. Christine says...

    I never comment on blogs despite being an avid reader, but this prompted me to share. My mom died suddenly six weeks before my wedding. It was and is traumatic. But the kindnesses that stay with me include: my sister’s college roommate who was by then a med student bringing us pizza to the hospital; my friends picking up the dress my mom was going to wear to the wedding for me; my friends who are teachers who came to the wake the night before the first day of school; my best friends moving my then fiancé into our new apartment, unpacking my clothes, and filling our fridge with food; my uncle writing to my sister and I on the monthly anniversary for the first year; my coworkers who met me for coffee my first day back so I didn’t have to walk in alone; coworkers who shared their stories of loss; a seamless gift card on the first anniversary; and coworkers who took me out to lunch right before the first anniversary…and I have to say the kindnesses go on and on. It was the worst thing to ever happen to us but at the same time we were very supported by our community. We got a card that said “there is no good card for this” and that’s true, but all the little and big gestures really do make a difference.

  26. Kat says...

    In the past year, I have lost my mother and had 3 miscarriages. The grief has fundamentally changed me, but it’s not entirely for the worse. Of course I would much prefer to still have my wonderful mom and a baby in my arms, but I am more compassionate, more mindful and more alert to the fleeting beauty of this life, and that’s a silver lining worth holding on to.

    • Katie Higgins says...

      This is a really true and beautiful outlook. I’ve been affected and changed similarly.

  27. Emilie says...

    This post haunted me and touched me so much that I’ve now come back 4 times just to read the new comments… Thank you Cup of Jo for this incredible community, and for allowing complete strangers to connect, share experiences and wisdom like this. Keep up the incredible work!

  28. Christen says...

    I loved this post so much. I love this blog. Honestly. Everything about it is so great. I laugh out loud, or cry by the end of a post (today). Its all so well done, and respectful. Thank you!

    I miscarried at 3.5 months, after we had told all of our family and a few friends. It didn’t happen naturally, I went for a routine ultrasound, alone, and was told there was no heartbeat. It was shocking and unexpected, and the people around me didn’t know how to react. I remember taking a photo of the baby up on the screen, because otherwise it felt like it never happened, I had no proof. I wasn’t showing, and to the outside world everything was normal. I know that even my husband had a hard time relating. The loss I felt was devastating. Two days later a friend sent me flowers, when barely any of my family even acknowledged it, worrying it would upset me further. I balled when I received the flowers, but was so grateful for the acknowledgment of my loss. It made it feel more real, it was real! Despite the fact that I cried every time I saw the flowers in my kitchen (my husband actually suggested we get rid of them), I was grateful for them. I had to really feel all of this and work through my grief. To this day, I will be forever grateful to that friend and her kind thoughts.

    • Luna says...

      That would’ve been isolating for you. Your grief should not be made invisible or small. What a courageous gesture from your friend too. I hope you’ve acknowledged that little life, and the loss of it, that it deserved every teardrop from you. Blessings to you xx

  29. Yunah says...

    a year and a half ago, my best friend killed herself. we had known eachother since 3rd grade, almost 50 years. i miss her so much. a friend told me that poetry can help.
    i read this poem often:

    Perfection Wasted by John Updike
    And another regrettable thing about death
    is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
    which took a whole life to develop and market —
    the quips, the witticisms, the slant
    adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
    the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
    in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
    their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
    their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
    their response and your performance twinned.
    The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
    in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
    Who will do it again? That’s it: no one;
    imitators and descendants aren’t the same.

    • Jenn says...

      Thank you for sharing this poem.

  30. Ah thank you all for soothing mentions. My Dad died 9 months ago & while I try to keep strong for my Mum & not worry my own husband & sweet children, there are still moments like now 5am reading your grief article & sobbing quietly missing my wonderful Dad. It is good to read that others feel similar. It is good to have a quiet cry & remember this is another part of being alive. xx

  31. Deb says...

    I’m dealing with a different kind of grief: divorce. A different kind of death. I am the one who initiated it, I am the one whose soul was being suffocated by my marriage. But yet, here I am, grieving the loss of a life that wasn’t meant to be lived beyond the present. Please consider a post on the devastation of divorce (even when it’s necessary).

    I’m not trying to minimize the death of loved ones (lawd knows, been there, too). My heart is with those sharing stories of loss. Truly.

    • M says...

      Me too. My husband left me for a very young woman (and has since moved on). The divorce hearing was in November and I still can’t pick myself up or fall out of love with him, despite a great therapist and meds. Among other things, it’s just so hard to be doing everything by myself and living alone with a 4yo. I yearned for another child but even sex was out of the question for him after the baby was born, let alone a child. My son was already a late child, so that’s another source of grief.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Deb, I went through a grief counseling group (Grief Recovery) and went thinking it was to grieve my mother or being an empty nester… turns out I had never grieved the loss of my marriage. No one carries your grief and no one can tell you what to grieve. :) I believe we are all on this journey and if possible, we can help lift each other when one of us falls or needs some help. <3

  32. Barb says...

    Actually, fully bawling. Grief is so tender and universal and we still are learning how to navigate it as a culture. But these good, kind, loving, light filled examples are what hope and humanity feels like.

  33. Andrea says...

    I am so touched by someone mentioning when she sees a specific bird she says hi dad! I have done the exact same thing when I see a red cardinal, I always feel his spirit when I see these vibrant beautiful birds. It’s a big comfort to know others experience this as well. Beautiful comments!

  34. Elizabeth says...

    I was the primary caregiver for my father and my prayers for the 2.9 years that he lived with me would be that God would take him before I could no longer care for him.
    2 months ago I woke on a Saturday morning to find that he was gone – he died at home, and at peace. I felt like I had been grieving him for a long time and now I’m really feeling it. I am wearing a surfboard charm to ride the waves of grief. Some days it’s a ripple, some days it’s a huge wave crashing down… but as long as I’m riding the waves, I’ll be ok.

  35. Emily says...

    Grief is so hard. I didn’t have the best parents and my Grandparents have been a constant in my life. My Granddad passed away years ago but my Grandma is now in hospice. It has already been so hard. I was explaining this to someone yesterday and she said, “Oh, but it’s okay because she’s so old.” It was like a fire went off in the pit of my stomach. Just because someone is old doesn’t make it any less earth-shattering and heartbreaking. People experiencing grief are never made better by telling them “they’re in a better place,” or “they’re not hurting anymore,” or “but they lived a good life.”

    • M says...

      Just wanted to say we have a very similar experience, less than perfect parents, and grandparents who made all the difference to my siblings and me.
      Our grandfather especially was my constant source of encouragement and steadiness, and he passed away 3 years ago. He was 91, so, not the most tragic of losses apparently. After he passed, someone had asked why I was not at work and I said my grandfather passed, and they replied with ‘oh at least it was just your grandfather and it wasn’t your dad’, someone who didn’t know me hardly at all.
      I wanted to scream. Because then I had the gut reaction of I would rather it have been my dad, which also made me feel guilty. So then I was angry, guilty, and sad and it was too much. There is no need for anyone to downplay or qualify grief in any way.

      I know it’s hard to go through these losses, my wonderful therapist has told me that the losses never get smaller, but hopefully we gain enough joy and happiness in life that they are at least a smaller fraction. I’m still working on that personally, but I hope you have happiness outside of the losses that help carry you through it.

    • Luna says...

      People don’t understand that for some, Grandparents were their Parents. When my Grandfather died, I got the call at work, and bawled uncontrollably. Then I heard a co-worker say, “It’s not like he was the Dad.”
      I could’ve smashed their head into the work PC. This ignorant person didn’t know me at all even though we were teammates for a few years.
      My Grandfather was our Father-figure after our Dad left us. Mum was left to raise 3 kids, non-english speaking in a foreign country. Her Parents visited often and a few times, stayed with us to look after us while Mum worked 2 jobs. Since that experience, I never give a comparison of who & how much loss is worthy.
      I know people who have mourned their friends/pet/neighbour/a client in their care, much more than their own family. Loss should never be compared or undervalued.

  36. Sarah says...

    We lost our identical twin girls this past October when I unexpectedly went into premature labor at only 21 weeks. We had a few precious hours with them before their heartbeats slowed and they passed in our arms. It’s been almost seven months but most days I feel like it was yesterday. I go through many emotions throughout a day and often envision them with me and my 2 year old son when we are out;like what would they be doing now; what would they look like or even how would I maneuver two car seats and a two year old to this music class.? It would have been so fun and beautiful to have brought our twin girls home. When we lost them, I kept saying to my husband; the house seems so quiet now. The planning, the dreaming, the liveliness of preparing for two babies was gone in an instant. The rawness and grief were wrapped fully around us for awhile and our friends and family truly stepped up and carried us through our heartbreak. They continue to do so each day. We are so lucky to have them. One thing I really learned throughout this whole experience is to always acknowledge someone’s loss. Some people didn’t know what to say and that made me feel alone; rarely did that happen but it happened. I remember when I returned to work, one of my co-workers called after me as I was leaving and came up and gave me a huge hug. She even said “ I don’t even know what to say but I had to give you a hug.” Always acknowledge; even if it’s a simple hug and no words are spoken. Let them feel that they are not alone.

    • Christine says...

      I am so sorry for your devastating loss.

    • Lynn says...

      Sarah, I just want to acknowledge your unbearable loss and tell you that I am so, so sorry for what you have gone through. I’m thinking about you and your partner, and your son, and your beautiful twin girls.

    • Sophie says...

      I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how hard that must be

    • Christen says...

      I am so sorry Sarah. Truly sorry. That is utterly devastating. I am thinking of your sweet girls and your family today. xo

  37. Lisa says...

    This is probably slightly off-topic, but I’d like to share this very special moment:
    On a vacation flight between to US states, a flight attendant approached me and asked me if I was *my name*, and what my middle name was. I told her I I was the right person but didn’t have a middle name, and to my question why she was asking she said “This was my daughter’s name. she died a few years ago. I saw your name on the passenger list and I felt it was a sign from above, I had to come talk to you”.
    It’s been 8 years and it was a totally unexpected situation, but I will never ever forget this woman and her daughter, whose first and family name I share even though I come from another continent. I often wonder whether I should contact her again and let her know that she and her daughter are on my mind.

    • Luna says...

      What a moment of peace she must’ve experienced to see yours & her daughters name! Some people believe in ‘signs’ and that connection would’ve been a lightbulb moment for her. I’m sure she thinks of you too. Blessings to you both xx

  38. Funny how life works…I clicked on this today on what would have been my Dad’s 75th birthday. A day that I realize I’ve been somewhat dreading (on an unconscious level) because I have to face the fact, once again, that he’s gone.

    I think I read somewhere (maybe CoJ!) that Grief is like the ocean, the waves come and go, sometimes so large as to knock me down, and other times so small as to just tickle my ankles and make me smile at a the memories. I’ve found that since my Dad passed away that our life together is like a constant movie in my head, playing through all of these amazing memories that I didn’t even know I had. I miss him so much, but life does go on.

    What I crave most is to talk about my Dad. I think that as the person who is grieving, we are unlikely to bring it up for fear of making others uncomfortable, but even to hear his name in conversation (even if they aren’t talking about him specifically) is some sort of balm, a reaffirmation that he existed. Naturally, others forget that you’ve lost a loved one, but for those of us grieving, we never forget, and to be able to talk about our loved one feels so dang good.

    So today I am grateful to to have stumbled upon this article and to be able to talk about my Dad (even if I’m really only typing and ugly crying at my desk at the same time, which I’m also grateful that I work at home and can do alone!).

    • Erin says...

      Yes, the waves …. in the beginning they’re so close together too, and then as they get farther and farther apart you stop feeling like you’re drowning. But every now and then they’ll knock you back down again. The waves resonated so much with me when I first heard that analogy and I try to share it as i found it so helpful for me.

    • Luna says...

      Elizabeth commented about waves too and she wears a surfboard charm and yours reminded me of that.

      My Husband’s father passed away when our second boy was only 5-months old, almost 8 Years ago. He talks about his Dad as if he was still here, sometimes in third person, dreams about his Dad, in a passing remark about our boys. I encourage him because growing up, my Husband always internalised his emotions. I hope you find someone with a kind and sincere ear to share your Dad with.

  39. Saz says...

    I lost my dad last September, suddenly. And it can still be very raw at times. I still think of him multiple times a day.
    When I returned to work after his death, 5 days later, I arrived at the gate, to find a work colleague waiting for me on the steps, with a mug of coffee in their hand, which they’d made for me. It was such a small, but sweet gesture, that I’ve remembered it often. It taught me that words aren’t always needed, in that they’re often quickly forgotten, but actions, and how that person made you feel when you were extra-vulnerable, that really stick with you.

  40. Bethanne says...

    So much thoughtfulness in these comments. It is posts like this that truly set your blog above the rest. Thank you!

  41. mk says...

    I love Amanda Palmer´s lyrics:

    no one’s ever lost forever
    when they die they go away
    but they will visit
    you occasionally
    do not be afraid
    no one’s ever lost forever
    they are caught
    inside your heart
    if you garden them
    and water them
    they make you what you are

  42. Catherine says...

    Thank you for this. On the way home from my son’s 3rd birthday a couple weeks ago tears just started rolling down my face. I realized that I was really deeply missing my dad who died 20 years ago. Seeing my son’s joy and holding my sweet newborn girl- the grief just hit me so hard. As a mom now it’s been interesting and challenging to have these sweet moments with my kids that make me want my dad back so badly.

  43. Maria says...

    This post and the lovely replies are quite timely. I lost my mother almost three years ago, and what would have been her 67th birthday is coming up this Saturday. Sending hugs and lots of love to those of you traversing the shadowy lands of grief. Kudos to the COJ team for another brilliant and poignant post.

  44. Maria says...

    This post and the lovely replies are quite timely. I most my mother almost three years ago, and what would have been her 67th birthday is coming up this Saturday. Sending hugs and lots of love to those of you traversing the shadowy lands of grief. Kudos to the COJ team for another brilliant and poignant post.

  45. Margaret says...

    Thank you for this blog. Such gentle and heartfelt communication.

  46. Kristyn says...

    I’ve seen this shared a few times and I think it perfectly captures the grieving process:

    I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to ‘not matter.’ I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

    Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

    As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

    In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out.

    But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

    Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself.

    And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

    The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

    • Juanita says...

      OMG this exactly how I feel right now. I just lost my mom a month ago. This is awesome how you described it.

  47. Mara says...

    My beloved grandmother, my best friend, died suddenly in 2010. I always tell people, “Always take the call.” The evening before she died I was stressed trying to cook a feast for my new boyfriend’s birthday, in which 15 members of his family were attending. A high pressure situation, as I’m not a cook and all the burners and the oven were in use, things were boiling over and I was burning half the meal and was ready to bite someone’s head off. I saw my grandmother’s number come up and debated letting it go to voicemail, that I’d just call back the next day at work. But something made me pick up. Turns out, she’d accidentally called me, meant to call my aunt! We chatted for 15 minutes, said “I love yous,” and she said how happy she was that she’d gotten to speak to me after all. She wished me luck with the birthday dinner. 9 hours later, she was dead. Always take the call.

    I was destroyed when she passed, but right after the funeral, even though I could barely bring myself to do it, wrote EVERY detail down. Our whole conversation that night, how her resuscitation efforts went (and failed), something sweet she said about me as the EMTs worked on her (sob), and finally, details from her funeral, including how jarring it was to see her twin sister come up to me and my sister, and the kind words she said about how our grandmother thought the world of us.

    Eight years later I still cry easily (like right now!), and not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. I agree with everyone about how grief comes and goes, evolves, but is always there somewhere. It changes you. Writing down memories and peoples’ stories and rereading them has been everything in making sure my grandmother’s memories are never forgotten.

    • Megan says...

      Yes to this – to writing everything down. After my grandmother passed, I spent a few hours writing down memories, ideas, smells, songs – anything that reminded me of her, that we shared together, and small anecdotes shared to me by her friends and my friends alike. It was heart-wrenching and I waffled between those painful, silent sobs and loud ones, but it was cathartic. Now, seven years later, I re-read what I wrote and am AMAZED at how much I have forgotten in such a short amount of time. It’s a gift to be reminded.

    • Emilie says...

      Mara, what you say about always taking the call gave me goosebumps. Thank you so much for sharing ❤

    • Luna says...

      Before mobile phones, my Mother said to us one day, When your Grandparents call, run to answer the phone. Don’t walk. Don’t ignore it. Tell them something new everytime. Don’t give one word answers. Ask them a question instead. Always say ‘I love you’. One day those phone calls will never happen again.

      My Grandfather was quite sickly for a few years before he passed. When he died, my Mother cried like no sound I’d ever heard before. It was a howl, piercing and blood-curdling. Unforgettable.

      Years later, my then Partner’s (now Husband’s) father passed away. I had taken the phone call as my Partner was sleeping. Even though I braced myself for it, I then heard the same gut-wrenching howl.

      I dread when it will be my turn. But I’m grateful to my Mum for reminding us how to appreciate those later years and communicate better with our Grandparents. Our sons have been told the same & I hope they too will remember the hard-of-hearing phone calls and the flights home to Nana & Papa’s during the school holidays and Christmases.

  48. JN says...

    I’ve found that although the weight of the loss never truly goes away, or at times the guilt and regret of not having done such-and-such with them still creeps up from time to time, that over the years, all that heaviness becomes more intermingled with joyous memories I have with them. Initially, something would happen in my life and I’d think, “Oh, she’s gone. She would have loved to see this but she never will.” Over time, that same thought has transformed into, “Oh! A flower garden! She would love this!” and I’d picture that person laughing and warmly smiling along with me in the back of my mind. The joy of remembering that person has grown over the years, like a slow crescendo of happiness. :)

  49. I lost my 18yo daughter in 2010, I never realized we could miss someone this much. Thru my grief I have learned many things but one thing I try to pass on to others who are starting a grief journey is this,
    One day you will be able to breathe again, not everyday but a little more often. This is my own journey quote and I hope it gives hope to others.
    -Jan Sherron

    • t says...

      Jan, I am truly so sorry for your loss. I see many comments about losing parents, grandparents, friends, and those are all heart-wrenching losses. But for me the loss of a child would be an entirely different level of grief. I just cannot imagine. Sending you hugs.

    • Thank you ❤️

    • Emilie says...

      Thinking of you Jan, we are complete strangers but the mere idea of what you went through is devastating and heart-breaking. Sending you so much love and strength. ❤ You are so, so brave and stronger than you know.

  50. Every summer, I spend a week volunteering as a cabin buddy at a grief camp for kids who have lost a loved one in their lives. It is run by 80 volunteers and a handful of impressive therapists. It is a normal camp with normal camp activities–horseback riding, archery, swimming, crafts, singing, etc. It’s just that the campers all have one thing in common: grief.
    Many of the kids don’t know how to navigate their grief, as often times none of their friends can relate, they’re told not to cry at home, or their families are absorbed in their loss and the children aren’t receiving the outlet they need. Camp is a massive stepping stone in their grieving processes. At camp they talk about their loved ones along with other kids who can ultimately relate. They learn to trust one another and they learn that it is okay to cry. One evening, I observed two 6-year-old girls talk about the death of their loved ones during our closing ceremony. The dark chapel was illuminated by 18 candles in tins and soft music swayed through the stale air. The lower camp girls were instructed to blow out their candles when they felt they were ready to let go of their loved ones. When they felt they were ready to let their hearts heal just a little bit more. Wails and sniffles quickly drowned out the music.
    One of the girls began to sob as she reflected on the loss of her daddy. I watched her small friend embrace her. “You know your daddy’s always with you,” she said. “You can always find him in your heart. You’ll see him again soon.”
    Touched by the moment, my cheeks were no longer dry. One of my girls, who hadn’t opened up all week about the death of her mom AND dad, inquired about my tears. I asked her if she was thinking about her parents, and she whispered, “Kind of.” She told me she isn’t really allowed to cry at home, and that was very obvious through her apprehensiveness to reflect on her parents all week. “You know it’s okay to cry,” I said, and almost immediately, she fell forward into my arms and she began to weep uncontrollably. “It’s just so hard,” she said over and over again as she buried her head into my chest. “It’s not fair that I had to lose my mommy and my daddy.”
    The next morning at breakfast, she met an 8-year-old boy who had also lost his mom and dad.
    I will never forget the look on her face when she figured out they shared more than just the same birthday. When she figured out she wasn’t alone.
    These kids may have just learned to tie their shoes, but they are brave and they are courageous, and they have taught me more life lessons than they will ever realize. They truly understand the treasure that life is. And although I have yet to lose someone close to me, I do know it is inevitable. When the seasons of my life change and grief becomes a part of my story, it will be these kids and this camp that get me through.

    • Jess says...

      Oh my gosh, this is SO touching. What an amazing, important camp that you are able to be a part of. x

    • Jessica says...

      This is so touching – you’re doing amazing work by helping these children.

    • Jessica says...

      **just need to acknowledge the comment doppelganger moment… neither of us saw each other’s comment before writing our own. Love funny moments like this in life… especially when other things are so hard. Find the small joys where ever you can! :)

  51. Suzie says...

    oh goodness, this post! i lost my brother 4 years ago, and I still hope to see his name when my phone rings or i get an email. i can’t even bring myself to delete his number in my phone. hugs to those who are also missing a loved one.

    • Sarah says...

      I am exactly the same. My brother Simon died 2 years ago and I still have his number in my phone. Other Simon’s call me sometimes and my heart slips a beat whenever I see the same come up.

  52. Lisa says...

    My dad died a year ago after a 13 year battle with Parkinson’s disease and later dementia. He was so sick for so long. I spent two years wondering when the phone would ring telling me he had passed. I was fortunate to be laying next to him when it happened. My oldest brother had his arm wrapped around him and he took one big breath and that was it. My brother commented later how fitting it was-my dad actually delivered him as the OB on call was late to my mom’s delivery (my dad was a doctor, however an oncologist). My brother took his first breath in my dad’s arms, and my dad took his last breath in my brother’s.

    • anja says...

      Dear Lisa, my Dad has Parkinson`s Disease and Dementia, too. Sometimes it feels as if he is already gone. As others have already said here, often the grieving begins long before someone dies. I am so sorry for your loss. Love, Anja

    • Lisa says...

      Very true Anja. I mourned the loss of who he had been for years before he finally passed. I’m sorry to hear your dad is going through the same thing. It’s a long, hard road to walk down.

  53. Pascale says...

    I agree with the comment on plants. We lost my incredible, one-of-a-kind, fiercely loving grandmother last august. She was a lifelong gardener and her funeral was filled with flowers from her garden and plants that people gave. I brought home a white orchid.

    My brother and sister-in-law were expecting their first child at the time of her death. It would have been her first great-grandchild, and it was the great joy of her last months. Right when my niece was born, the orchid went into the biggest bloom. Thirty, forty flowers… Though she never got to meet her, I know she is with us and is so happy. My niece is named after her.

    • Elizabeth says...

      My grandma died a year ago, one of my best friends, and someone gave me a Christmas cactus. My grandma was a plant lover and somehow my black thumb has been able to keep it alive. I think of her everytime I see it:)

  54. Cheryl says...

    The “holding in the light” comment is a profound and beautiful portrait of the sweetness of humanity. I thank you so much for sharing.

  55. K says...

    Thank you for this post and all of it’s comments. So many wise and loving words. I lost my husband 2 weeks ago and am only in my 30s. Perhaps you could write an article about losing spouses, partners, and significant others at a young age.

    • Klara says...

      So sorry to hear that, warm hug to you!

    • S says...

      I am so sorry for what you are going through. Sending love your way and hoping you have all the support and kindness in the world right now.

    • JL says...

      K – I’m so sorry for your loss. I have an acquaintance who was widowed in her 30s and founded the Hot Young Widows Club as a sort of support group. I don’t know a ton about it, but she is a very thoughtful, funny, and interesting person and I would expect creates a wonderful space for the women and men in the group. http://www.hotyoungwidowsclub.com/

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, K, i’m so, so sorry for your loss. that’s devastating. i’m so sorry.

      after my sister lost her husband, she found a lot of support in the hot young widows club.

      sending you a big hug and holding you close in my thoughts today.

    • Rachel says...

      My boyfriend was killed in a car accident on my 21st birthday, he was only 22. We had plans to get married, to make paintings together, to grow a magnificent life full of love together. Grief is universal, but feels unique when you’re at an age when the wonders of the world are supposed to be at your fingertips, and suddenly you find yourself holding nothing but darkness. It’s been almost 6 years now for me, and while I am still navigating the process of rewriting my dreams for the future, I find comfort in creating a new life that Daniel would be proud of. It helps me to feel like he is still a part of everything that I do. I am so sorry for the pain you have entered into, and the loss you are feeling for such an important love in your life. Make room to mourn your husband, but also be sure to give yourself space to grieve over your dreams. It’s in this space that you’ll find the earth to grow new ones, and to keep moving forward one step at a time. Sending an overabundance of love and comfort and light in your hard times, you are not alone.

  56. Debs says...

    My mom passed away when I was 8 months pregnant. She had been ill for my entire pregnancy which made it feel almost like a horrible twisted world I was living in. Almost everyone i know said things like…you have the baby to think about so don’t get too upset. Which is kind of a crazy thing to say. Loosing my mother when I was on the cusp of motherhood shook me to my core. I would have loved to have someone sit with me, just sit with me and let me grieve and cry, instead of telling me to keep it in and contained. When you are in the depths of grief, it can feel suffocating to have people keep asking if there’s anything they can do. All you need to do is just BE, be here, be the hug they need, the person to share that load with. That’s all I needed. x

    • Anna says...

      Oh Debs I am so sorry for your loss. I too lost my mom the day after my first child was born. Having two of the most life changing events happen at the same time is still so painful 7 years later. One thing that I always appreciated was just the acknowledgement of how hard it was to lose my mom at the same time I became a mother.

  57. Sat at my desk with tears in my eyes. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

  58. Lauren says...

    These are all lovely sentiments. I lost my 26 year old sister three years ago, unexpectedly. Does it get easier? Maybe. It gets different. Like life, death and grief are always changing. The grief will be with me all of my life, because SHE will always be a part of my life, and a part of who I am. I accept that. I don’t believe in ‘getting over it’ or necessarily ‘moving on.’ Those ideas can almost be offensive to me. Certainly I will live and experience my life, but that does not mean I’m leaving her behind.

    I remember one of the best things someone said to me when my grandfather died. A friend called me, and when I answered she said, ‘I’ll be honest, I was hoping you wouldn’t pick up. I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry.’ It was so open and true, and that was what I wanted from people – authenticity. Not cliches.

    When a friend died, as a teenager, I asked my mom what to say to his mother, who I was close to. I didn’t know what to say, and just felt so awful. She said: “Just tell her you love her. ” That, too, is authentic, true, and so touching.

    As a griever, I would highly recommend the C.S. Lewis book, ‘A Grief Observed,’ whether you are religious or not. It is his writings and struggles with grief after his wife died. It is a quick read, with simple language, but so eloquently spoke to many of my own feelings. ‘I never knew grief felt so like fear…’ and ‘Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.’ Two favorite quotes that I deeply know to be true.

    One thing that may be a bit personal – I asked for the funeral home to make fingerprints of my sisters fingers. I plan to make jewelry with them on it, eventually. A friend had a necklace with her father’s fingerprint, and I thought of that after my sister died. A personal touch to keep them close.

    Also, if you try grief support groups – no two are the same. I’ve tried several, only really connected at one, and was fortunate to make two lovely friends out of it. It can be healing to just be around people who KNOW.

    Wishing love to all who are grieving, whether they’re new to grief, or an old, longtime companion.

  59. Betty Hill says...

    My youngest daughter and her oldest son, who was four we’re killed in a car wreck almost four years ago. Her boyfriend was chasing them. It was so devastating, I am pretty sure I cried a river full of tears. My heart felt as if it were broken in two. The members of my church and friends filled my parents house for days. They were wonderful, bringing food, cards of sympathy, money and words of comfort. I still cry from time to time, I pray, I go to their grave and keep their flowers updated, because it helps my grieving process, and because her birthday was on Christmas Day. Her favorite color was purple and my grandson was such a sweet adorable child. I will always uphold their memory, and call their names while in the midst of family and friends.

    • Christine says...

      I am so sorry for your losses.

  60. This is so relevant to me this week. We lost my father-in-law unexpectedly 2 years ago on April 21st. I’m feeling sort-of okay most days, but every once in a while it hits so hard and I’m brought down by unbelievable sadness for my husband, myself, my kids, my mother-in-law and all the people that were part of his life.

  61. Robin says...

    One more comment about bringing food–when my mom died, my dad’s coworkers and friends brought over plenty of food and groceries, which we appreciated so much. But what stands out in my mind is the person who brought several bags of top quality coffee. It was so nice to have good, comforting coffee to make for the house full of people and all the visitors!

  62. Robin says...

    I lost my mom to cancer three years ago, and the grief emerges unexpectedly. I am grateful for these moments, such as reading a blog post on a Wednesday morning, that cause me to take some time to grieve and remember. With the sadness comes the joy of memory.

    Also, I wanted to say how great this series of “reader comment” posts has been. Although I know you have smart and kind readers, I don’t always have time to read the comments. I love the way you’ve highlighted a few of the wisest and brought those to our attention. Keep doing it!

  63. Klara says...

    Reading this, my faith in humanity is growing stronger again.

    For my own experiences: my best friend from university died from cancer a few years ago at age 29. By the time the doctors were honest about his true prognosis, he barely had a few weeks to live, making it hard for him to see everyone one last time because he was in so much pain.
    -> So instead I wrote him a long letter, writing down all the memories I have from our friendship and time together and promising him I would never ever forget him. And I never will. Afterwards, I heard from his wife that his biggest fear was for people to forget him. So I’m so glad I stressed that in my letter.
    -> I try to visit his grave on his birthday every year with some coffee and cake and talk to him a little bit sitting there. When I can’t make it, I always send an e-mail to his sister and parents (I still see his wife on a regular basis) and they appreciate it so much.
    -> Also, after he passed away, I send his wife a coupon for cleaning the house whenever she needed that. A few weeks in, she called me and asked me if I could come and help her clean, because she always did that together with her husband and she had been postponing it to do it alone because it would be too confronting. We made a big day out of it and she felt so relieved in the evening.

  64. Rachel L says...

    So many really wonderful heartwarming (& some heartbreaking) comments here…what an amazing community COJ is. I’m just approaching the 3rd anniversary of my darling Dad’s death…somehow it seems even harder this year. I crave other people talking about him – even briefly, those stories that I’ve never heard before that just bring him right back. I still find it difficult to use the past tense when talking about him. He adored nature and, although I have no faith, I am convinced that the birds and butterflies I see every day are him visiting me and when a red kite (his favourite bird) swoops especially low as I’m unpacking the car or walking across the supermarket carpark I always say ‘Hi Dad’! Silly I know, but so comforting too. Love to all those suffering with loss. It’s incredibly tough. Take solace where you can x

    • Marci says...

      “Take solace where you can” – so true; I lost my beloved dad six months ago and whenever I see a robin I know it’s him checking on me and letting me know that everything is going to be ok, and that he is at peace now.

      Thank you so much Joanna for creating such a compassionate and supportive blog. I needed this post today. Love to everybody else who did too xx

  65. Julie says...

    I lost my dear Mum 9 years ago. In the first few months I’ve never felt more alone…. and a good friend of mine said “just say Yes to everything”. It’s so easy to cocoon yourself away from everyone and hide under a Doo and but it’s really company of good people that get you through. So when someone asks “let’s grab a coffee” it’s a Yes… “pizza on Friday night” Yes…. “a walk on Saturday” Yes. Just say yes to everything and keep busy until grief, the old boot softens the edges in a way you can begin to learn to walk in for a while.

  66. Gloria says...

    My dad passed away suddenly a little over a month ago. While all of these are so touching and true, the one that really gets to me is the question how do I live my life without him? I know it’s happening but I’m still not quite sure how it’s going on. It feels like the world should stop.

    • C says...

      Oh, Gloria. I am in the same place. My dad died unexpectedly 3 weeks ago. I don’t get it. My world has stopped, and yet it’s kept going in all the annoying ways (work, bills, household chores). I find myself losing thoughts right in the middle. I’m not a good listener to others anymore. How do I continue on? I’m not sure. Do I have a wedding someday or am I going to elope (because the thought of anyone else walking me down the aisle is ridiculous, and the thought of celebrating anything is even more ridiculous). My 30th birthday is coming up in a few weeks. I find myself clinging to all these tiny, selfish things that I would want him to be part of, and no one else will fill his spot, and it’s all just awful. All this to say, I get it. I’m sending you love today. I think it’s okay if your world (our world) has stopped for a little while.

    • Jasmine says...

      C and Gloria, I have been feeling those same feelings. My dad passed away almost three years ago, a few weeks before I was supposed to move for a new job and my 30th birthday. It was so hard to be in a new place during that time, I found it hard to be around people who didn’t know what had happened, like I was harboring this terrible secret. About 6 weeks after I was at my friend’s rehearsal dinner and watched her dad meet his granddaughter for the first time, my heart broke into a million pieces knowing my dad would not be there to meet my kids. I don’t want to have a wedding either, but don’t want to tell my mom that is why… You are both in my thoughts!

  67. It’s been almost 7 years since my dad died, and the thing that I have finally accepted is that I will be grieving his loss the rest of my life. Early on when everyone told me that it would get easier, I thought that meant that someday I would grieve less. But there is no grieve more or grieve less, there is just grieving. Life with grief is my new normal.

    I miss him the most on my birthday. He was always the first one to call me to wish me a happy birthday, usually right around 6 a.m.

  68. MARINA says...

    Thank you so very much for the post and all of the comments! All of these are so true, especially about trying remembering those that are gone when life seems to go on. Suggestion about tissues is also on point.
    We lost our 8 year old in a tragic accident almost 7 months ago. It was and still is deafening experience that nothing could prepare us for. Life becomes as if you are looking at it from outside, because accepting what happened still seems impossible. We are dealing with this in the healthiest way we know, but I will be forever grateful to those that stick around, not asking what we need, but just do it. I will never underestimate the power for random hug and shared silence, when all you might need is for someone to just be there.
    I am not into quotes but this one carried me through so far: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” ~ Jamie Anderson.
    I am really sorry about everyone’s losses. Hugs

    • Casey says...

      Oh my gosh, that quote… YES.

  69. Roberta says...

    When my husband died suddenly my neighbor called me to express her sympathy and she said “I will come and spend the nights with you if you want me to.” That gesture meant so much to me. She knew that my first nights without him would be so hard. I have never forgotten that.

  70. Sally White says...

    ‘None of us are. And that’s fine.’
    Thank you for posting about this. A very good friend of mine- a friend I did not see enough in person because I assumed that she would always be there- died two summers ago in a hiking accident. She fell and then she was gone.
    I find myself forgetting it is permanent because we lived in different cities for so many years after school and I’m used to long stretches without seeing her, but it was her birthday last month and it really really hit me in a way it hadn’t before. It seems so silly and obvious, but my mind kept going back to how there would never be any new pictures of her.
    I wanted to reach out to her family and tell them that I was thinking of her and missing her, but I didn’t because I couldn’t find any words that didn’t sound like a hallmark card and so I froze. Thank you for the reminder that the words don’t need to be perfect and that the timing is not the most important thing.
    Lots of love.