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. Katie says...

    My dad was just diagnosed with cancer last week. I am 21 and he is 56. He was a stay-at-home dad while I was growing up so we were (and still are) very close. I am scared at the thought of losing him–that he might never get to meet my kids someday especially. Life’s tough sometimes. :(

  2. Ana says...

    I’ve just lost my mum, roughly 2 months ago. I couldn’t be with her when this happened, I live abroad. I couldn’t say goodbye to her, I couldn’t tell her how much I love her, and how much I need her, and how much I miss and will miss her forever. People expect you to be fine immediately after or feel incredibly uncomfortble when you show your grief, so on top of everything else, you have to handle their emotions. It’sunbeliebably tiresome. I want to believe they try to understand the situation, but I honestly don’t think they do. Everything seems so random. So to find this, right now, at this moment (this was actually a recommendation from an avid fan, who’s also one the best friends anyone can ever hope for), this is good, this is people who know. You know. Thank you.

  3. Laura J says...

    Do not underestimate the value of a sympathy card. I try to write something about the person if I knew them, a memory if possible or a some special quality they possessed. I also like to include this quote. I have seen it attributed to various sources.

    “There are stars whose light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen apart. There are people whose remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.”

  4. Devon says...

    Thank you for this amazing community. My aunt passed away a few weeks ago after a long battle with cancer. I didn’t expect to feel the level of grief and sadness I felt for her loss. It helps to remember that we all walk through life with loss and pain. These comments are a great reminder of that.

  5. Ae says...

    My fiancé’s father was put on life support last night. I’m devastated not only by my own (selfish?) grief but by not knowing how to be there for my fiancé as he loses his best friend and confidante. This post was very timely. I need simply to check- in, often and consistently, with both how I’m feeling but with how my love is feeling. In just the last 24hours, we’ve gone from devastated and angry to denial and reminiscent. Grief ebbs and flows and I just need to be there… to say something, to do something to make this time less unbearable for my fiancé.

  6. Cassie says...

    My grandmother who helped raise me was my favorite human on the planet. After she passed away from dementia, my husband was uncomfortable discussing her or bringing her up. I felt insanely lonely at home. My advice to friends and spouses is to not be afraid of bringing up the person who passed away. I find the most comfort in sharing her memories.

  7. Kellen says...

    Though I had considered the scenario of my sister dying throughout my adult life, the reality of losing her has been quite different. It’s been almost six weeks since she passed suddenly, not to be found until days later by my father. The first two weeks I spent with my parents and husband making sense and coming to terms. Not an easy task and won’t be completed for some time. How do you grieve appropriately for the young, addicted and mentally ill? Haven’t we been grieving for the last 15 years? No flowers, nor food have been accepted, only the closest of friends know of our loss. How does one begin to unpack the disease? More often than not, given the “situation”, we opt to privatize our grief from the world. Personally, I am challenged with not how to grieve, but who to grieve. The child who became lost, the teenager who was damaged, or the adult that lived my nightmare? Tonight I find myself grieving for them all equally.

    • Alexandra says...

      My older brother died at age 29, 7 years ago on April 24 (day of this post and your comment). I had forgotten that anniversary until I read what you wrote. Like your sister he was also an addict and mentally ill. I grieved his death for many years before it happened. I knew I would get a phone call one day saying he had overdosed. This is exactly what happened. My brother was not a part of my regular life for a long time before his death. And I don’t have very many happy memories with him to call back on. I still don’t know how to grieve his death, especially because he seemed like such a tortured soul here on earth, a huge part of me really thinks he must have found more peace wherever he is now. What I have tried to do, in his honor,
      is look at people who might othewise be dismissed as damaged goods as individuals who somewhere have family who love them. Good luck to you and your family as you continue your healing journey. My brother’s name was Kellen.

  8. Sasha says...

    I’m tearing up reading everyone’s comments. I had a very hard time after our baby was unexpectedly stillborn three years ago. I found the website Modern Loss a huge comfort to read- it was like these comments, just people writing about their loved ones, and it made life easier realizing that everyone experiences loss sooner or later, and can maybe express it better than you. Thank you, Joanna, for posting about loss every once in a while.

  9. Cara says...

    It means so much to me when someone mentions our daughter or isn’t afraid of my tears when I talk about her. She was stillborn at 41 weeks last year. She was our firstborn and she means the world to us. I think of her everyday.

    • Tori says...

      Cara- I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine your heartbreak. I’m sure that sweet baby was so well loved and cared for and that you were the best mama you could be to her.

  10. Daisy says...

    I lost my mom when I was 22. She was killed when she was at our home during an attempted robbery. My family and I have been througb various stages of grief, guilt feeling and having to deal to polic investigation etc. One thing that comes to my mind during the intense period of the 1st month after we lost her was someone who said to us, we never question, “Why me”, when we are blessed with something, so we need to come to terms and not question “Why me”? when adversity strikes as well. I am able to calmly types all this but I am sure we were all a big mess back then. The thing I miss the most or my huge regret is that her grand kids never got to see her, be with this most amazing person.

  11. Jamie says...

    My heart is simultaneously so warm and so heavy from this post. I lost my Dad in December after a brutal illness, and to be honest have felt mostly alone in my grief. As someone in their early 20s I have no close friends who have lost a parent and often feel so frustrated by their ignorance, even when they are so sweet and well intentioned. Just reading about others’ experiences has flooded me with a feeling of (unfortunate) solidarity – I wish I knew each and every one of you in person.

    Similar to one of the comments above, I recently heard someone say (maybe Oprah??) that grief is the price you pay for getting to love, which has really stuck with me. I think about the sharp painfulness of the grief I feel as directly connected to just how deeply I loved my Dad. How sad would life be if we never loved anyone enough to truly grieve their leaving?

    On a lighter note – the suggestion to provide gift cards to Grubhub is wonderful. We were deluged with food in the week or two after my dad’s death – so much so that countless containers of soups and salads had to be thrown away because there was so much we could not eat. But basically after the 14 day mark, all of the food and other outreach stopped, and I found myself wishing I didn’t have to cook already.

    Life moves on and it’s easy to forget, but for anyone you know who lost someone they love, they are almost certainly still grieving. It doesn’t matter how long ago the loss was.

  12. Lynne Dentino says...

    In one month it will be a year since I lost my everything, my world, my future. Almost 1 year later and I feel like I did the day it happened. I wait, I wait for the “emptiness”, the “loneliness” to go away. Not lonely as in no one around me, but lonely from truly being loved and knowing it, as I once was, as I once truly loved.

    • Leah says...

      I’m so sorry Lynne. Thinking of you from Boston.

  13. Shashi says...

    Nellie’s comment is so beautiful it moved me to tears. Such a profound comment on community.

  14. Suzy says...

    I’m not sure anyone will read this comment, but I lost my daughter one month ago after three short days. Thanks for sharing this.

    • M. Mcloughlin says...

      Someone has read this. I am so sorry for you and your family.

    • Julia says...

      I have also read what you wrote, and even though I don’t know you, know that today you, and your daughter, are in my heart and mind.

    • Christine says...

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Lisa says...

      I am so sorry. What is your daughter’s name?

    • Yasmine says...

      Reading this comment made me cry. Oh, Suzy, I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure you were the most loving and best mother your daughter could have had for those 3 days. You will always be her mother. May her memory always be a blessing for you. Sending so much love your way.

    • Taylor says...

      I’m reading, and I’m with you, sister Suzy. I hope you can feel my love.

  15. Greta Wesslen says...

    My mother-in-law just passed away. So many people generously brought food and sent flowers and cards. But, the most meaningful? My cousin brought each of the young grandkids a special Jellycat stuffed animal to the memorial service. The kids clutched those animals through the service, the day, that night, and the whole weekend. It was so touching.

  16. Patrick says...

    26 years ago today I lost my Dad, the first significant loss in my life. My wife and three sons were right there with me through it all, loving and kind. Just shy of 9 months ago we lost one of those sons, our eldest. Those who have lost a child can understand the intense pain, the vacuum of a loss so large. Yet today, on the anniversary of my Dad’s death and thinking on my son as I do every day, a great sense of peace came upon me. Walking my dog I felt both of them near me; I passed beneath a pair of songbirds in full ebullient song and I smelled, oddly, honeysuckle where none could be in bloom yet through the snow. A gift to ease the day and remind me that grief can contain more than pain and can awaken me to the presence of my loved ones.

    • Ada says...

      What a beautiful description of your Dad and son. Blessed to you and your family.

    • Julia says...

      What a beautiful comment! It gives me hope.

  17. Daniela says...

    I struggle with this. I work on a NICU unit and have a hard time with what to say to parents who’ve lost an infant. Thank you for the read!

  18. Christine says...

    As other commenters have said, this COJ community is so incredibly special. I have read all the comments with tears in my eyes.

    My dad died 21 years ago, now more than half my life ago. It feels so long ago, but the pain is still there. Especially now that I have two children (4&2). I try to talk about him to them, but it breaks my heart they will never know him (and honestly, since I was a teenager when he died, that I didn’t know more about him, like I now know about my mom).

    How about one thing NOT to say to a grieving kid? At my father’s wake, someone had the nerve to say to me (a high schooler) that my dad was now watching me all the time and I should be on my best behavior from now on. This person didn’t know me, but I knew her high school children had been in trouble. I now realize she must have been projecting on me. I was an extremely well behaved kid, who was overwhelmed by her dad’s sudden death, so I felt it was totally out of line. I wanted to scream at her that my dad would be proud if he could see me, but I didn’t. Her comment still makes me mad – can you tell?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i’m sure your dad would be so, so proud to see his beloved daughter grown up with two children of her own. he would absolutely delight in watching you grow up (even through ups and downs!) and love you with all his heart. that woman can go shove it :) (although i imagine she would really regret saying that!)

    • Christine says...

      Thank you so much, Joanna. I have no doubt he would be so proud of me (he was embarrassingly, loudly proud of me when he was alive). I always hope I do enough to bring him alive to my kids. Although, my four year just wants to know where his bones are :) Kids!

  19. Caitlin Gaffer says...

    I could write for days and I want to comment on everything but I want to share this silly memory of mine in the midst of losing my dad. We lost my dad a year and a half ago. A lot of people brought us stuff during the week of his funeral. The thing I remember most is that someone dropped off a big container of kleenex at my mom’s house. And I’m not sure why, but my family is extremely against having kleenex in the house (you know, in a decorated container on the back of the toilet…UGH) but this kleenex that someone dropped off came in handy during those days as we cried ALOT. I am so grateful for whoever brought us the kleenex. This is grief- It’s weird, it’s unpredictable and it shows up in the form of being thankful for kleenex people.

    • Daynna says...

      Your last sentence is so wonderful.

  20. Kelly says...

    I remember sitting in hospice, holding my moms face in my hands, tearfully telling her how much I loved her and she just calmly wiped my tears, smiled back and said, “I know dear.” It was our last conversation. I had told her I loved her a thousand different ways in the course of our lives but at the end of the day, it was this feeling, always between us, that no words could seem to do justice. In grief I see her everywhere: she is the perfect rose, she is the beautiful owl perched in my tree, she is the cozy blanket wrapped around me, she is there when I hold my daughter’s hand, and when a rainbow stretches over the sky- she’s the best part of my days.

    • Beth says...

      This bought a tear to my eyes. X

    • Tara says...

      Beautiful!

    • Taylor says...

      This brought me to tears too! Beautifully said

    • Nora says...

      This made me tear up. Big hugs to you.

    • Daynna says...

      Crying now.

    • Rachel L says...

      So beautiful Kelly. Thanks for sharing x

    • Lisa says...

      This made me cry as well. I lost my dad a year ago and while that was so painful, I know the pain of losing my mom will be even worse. She is my best friend. I’m so sorry for your loss, but happy to know you see her in the beauty that surrounds you.

    • molly says...

      I somehow made it through all the beautiful stories without ugly crying at my desk – this was the final straw. beautiful – just beautiful.

  21. Nicole says...

    Thank you for all of these great comments! Yesterday was the two year anniversary of my brother’s unexpected death at age 38 (my dad also died six months later). I feel like the universe has sent me a gift today in this post. The following two comments resonated most with me because I know that grief will follow me for the rest of my life and that some days it’s bigger than others. I choose to embrace my grief to honor the memories of my brother and dad. But I also choose to honor myself and live my life as best that I can. Anya and Rachel–thank you for putting in words exactly how I feel.

    “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

    “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

    • Yesterday was also the anniversary of my brother’s unexpected death. He was 2 months old and died 28 years ago. Thanking of you and your family ❤️

    • Katherine says...

      Grieving is the last way we live people: that line hit me. How someone is worth so much to us that we miss them, remember them and mourn them. How blessed we are to have people worth missing, who loved and enriched us.

  22. Erica says...

    Beautiful words. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Sarah says...

    This post reminds me of a book I read recently that said when you’re grieving it’s easier to tell people “go away” than to say “I was suffering and no one came”. Always, always, always reach out to someone in pain.

  24. Sierra says...

    I am grieving my son’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes 4 months ago. I am grieving the the life I dreamt of for him and for our family. It has taken over everything, I had to quit my job and I am constantly on edge waiting for the next terrible thing to happen to our family.

    • Shashi says...

      Sending you positive vibes

    • Brooke says...

      Praying for you and your son, Sierra <3

    • E says...

      I’m so sorry, Sierra.

    • Becky says...

      I am so sorry Sierra. You and your family are in my thoughts.

    • Shannon says...

      You are not alone. Your family will make it through this and whatever comes next, and good things will come, too. <3

    • Pamela says...

      Sending you hugs, Sierra.

    • Kate says...

      Sending love to you. I know that doesn’t help what you’re going through but I’m thinking of you and your family.

    • Midge says...

      Sierra, I’m so sorry. Love and strength to you and yours.

    • Lauren says...

      Sending love to you. I often think, when I’m struggling, how many others are struggling, too, with things that I could never understand. It is hard not to be in fear when you are grieving – the ‘what will happen next’, but please try to let yourself just take one moment to the next, one minute to the next.

    • Tori says...

      Hi Sierra,
      I’m so sorry to hear of your son’s diagnoses. It’s life changing.
      My brother was diagnosed when he was 9, I was 11 at the time and still remember everything. He is 25 now and a 6’5″, healthy athlete. I know how scary it can be though….I can’t dwell on it too much and I’m his sister… I really can’t imagine as a mother. My point was to encourage you to reach out to JDRF. My father has been involved since my brother was diagnosed and it has been a HUGE help and resource to have a community of people in the same boat. I’d be happy to put you in touch if you’d like.
      Best wishes.

    • Meredith says...

      I am so sorry, Sierra. This must be a scary, overwhelming time for your family. Big hug. Pls reach out to the T1D community for support…I know this burden well and there are resources out there that can make your journey easier.

    • Lisa says...

      My brother’s best friend has T1D. He was diagnosed at 5. We had insulin in our fridge for years because he was here so much. He’s now 36, married, and a successful financial advisor. It will get easier to manage as he gets older and more responsible.

  25. Olivia Pitts says...

    On my 47th birthday 2016 I lost the love of my life, my best friend, my partner, my mi amor. It came unexpected but the years leading to 7-22-2016 were all worth it. Just shy of his 2yr anniversary it feels just like that afternoon I held his hand as he took his last breath. Some days I just cry in utter disbelief, others days I go to the cemetery and sit, talk and cry and watch for birds to fly by, that somehow comforts me as though it’s mi amor embracing me. I am grateful for every moment good bad indifferent that we shared but most importantly for the best gift mi amor had given me that is his family The Gonzalez’s. I am Gonzalez too. I am Olivia Pitts Gonzalez.

  26. maia says...

    I’d had to all this beautiful comments :
    – If you hesitate to go to the funeral, go. At least, I felt happy with this rule most of the time in my life.
    – If you know someone is grieving, its always better to say something, even the smallest something, even a clumsy one, than nothing. When I lost my boyfriend, I felt so grateful for everyone who did anything for me, even a text or a word through a friend. Discovering how many people were so kind and generous balanced a bit the violence of the loss.
    On the other side, two acquaintances sayed nothing when we met the following weeks, and that felt awkward and still feels this way between us.
    For the ones who had a recent loss : you may feel awkward some days, in a bad mood not knowing why, and after a few days you realise its a new form of grief and you cry and you cry and then feel better. Its normal. It happened to me a few times before I understood the process. For me, it’s related to special dates and also to seasons. For example, it always happens the first “springy” days of the year : When Nature comes back to life, vibrant and with a blazing sun, it kind of lights the missing ones in my heart.

    • Ada says...

      Oh Maia, thank you for sharing these beautiful words. A friend’s Father has just passed away today and your comment has been the most helpful. To be fair I’ve cried through most of them these last couple days & then to see my friend’s loss.

      Your last sentence was profound and perfectly describes how I remember my lost loved ones….. both sets of Grandparents, my Maternal Great Aunt, my Father-in-law but especially my older sister (over 30 years ago) and she was the first. We never forget them, but it takes a sign to remember the best moment we have/shared of them. I guess that’s why I love rain so much.

  27. Laura Rohrbeck says...

    After my grandmother died, i sat down and wrote on paper every memory i had of her. The way the house was arranged, how we used to brush our teeth together before bed, naps on the open porch in the summer, the smell of her favorite food cooking. I keep those papers in my safe. I go back and read them often and smile. It helps remembering the good times and for those good memories not to fade away.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, what a beautiful thing to do, laura.

  28. Margaret says...

    One of my closest friends passed away suddenly about 4 months ago due to complications from childbirth and it still feels unbelievable and painful that she is gone. My husband and I lived in Maryland, away from our families in Michigan, for years and she and her husband were part of our little family of friends away from home. When she died we were in the process of moving back to our home state (and have since done so) but it feels like we abandoned her husband and sweet baby boy. While we were still in Maryland we we were able to cook, run errands, and spend time with them but I feel helpless now living so far away. Does anyone have any ideas for how we can still support them?

    She was a fellow Jo reader (the number of times I would send her a link and she had already read it that day!), a beautiful, loyal, generous, friend, and the life of every party. I miss her every day.

    • could you do regular FaceTime/Skype chats? I try to do this a lot with my brother-in-law who recently became a widower. He is alone with my 2 year old nephew, and I try to provide him with as much adult company as I can, even though I live in MA and he’s in NY.

      But I imagine that he would still be really appreciative of meals…I imagine there is some blue apron type meal service where the meals arrive pre-cooked.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your friend <3

    • How about sending cute outfits for the baby at new age/growth milestones? Or asking for monthly photos of the baby and then putting together a 1st year photo book? Or starting a memory book for baby about Mom that the dad can read at night? I imagine it would be nice growing up and hearing stories about what your mom was like and how much she loved you from people who knew her best.

    • audrey says...

      i just lost my mother and i am so grateful to the people who just continue to reach out, even though its not the immediate days/weeks after her death.
      call, text, share stories of your friend, if there is a tradition you can keep alive from a far – do it, plan a trip to visit, send a card. share that you too are missing her in your daily life. not feeling alone in my grief helps more than people can imagine.

    • Katherine says...

      My mum is such a good card sender. She buys the $1 cards you can find in cheap shops with pretty flowers etc on them and mails them weekly to people like her aunt who’s now permanently in hospital, and all manner of people who just aren’t able to be out a lot. Regular personal paper mail is a real joy. Contact and relationships are the most meaningful and important thing you can offer. Write every birthday with a memory of his mother, be another person who cares about each milestone and trial in his life, no matter how small. You’re a connection to a mother he’ll never get to meet, with stories different to those his dad can tell. Anything practical you can do to support them from a distance will always be lovely, but emotional support, reminders of kindness and joy, that provides the energy and encouragement to face all the everyday tasks. Never underestimate the power of friendship and knowing you’re remembered and cared for x

    • Lauren says...

      I would suggest gift cards, possibly books, if they are a reader. Or even just a card in the mail every now and then to let them know you’re thinking of them – how often do we receive a card in the mail anymore? Maybe writing down some of your favorite memories of your friend and sending them to her husband? Or, maybe putting together a photo album for him and his child of photos of her/ you all together, that they may not have? When I lost my sister, I loved when people remembered her, told me stories about her I hadn’t heard, or sent pictures of her that I didn’t have.

  29. Such a beautiful post that left me in tears. So many wonderful people in this community – thank you for your strength and for sharing your wisdom. <3

    Eva

  30. Theodora Matta says...

    I am learning to grieve. Our son Josh, took his life on 9/10/17. He was the most amazing human being. He lived in Bushwick and was a talented graffiti artist (ACNE).
    People have been so kind but when you are in the depth of your grief, they begin to disappear. They don’t quite know what to do for you. Suicide has a stigma to it, even in 2018.
    It has been almost 8 months. I now have “woken” and realize I will live out my days without him.

    • I’m sorry for the loss of your son Josh.

      Have you heard about Compassionate Friends? It’s a grief group with chapters all across the world for parents who have lost children.

      I attend (they’re also open to adults who have lost their siblings) – the most repeated phrase I hear is how thankful the parents are that they have found the group.

    • Leah says...

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Meems says...

      Oh my. He is missed and am sending you a virtual hug. Thanks for sharing.

    • AH says...

      my mom took her own life about one month ago. losing my mom has been incredibly hard. i miss her so much.
      it being a suicide has added a layer of complexity to the loss that i am still figuring out how to deal with. i wish so much i had understood more the pain she was in and been able to do something to help her. i feel so much regret.

    • Christine says...

      I lost my beautiful 26 year old son to a drug overdose on March 19, 2017. I pray to GOD asking to keep him close and to allow me to see him when I die. I think about him first thing when I awake, throughout the day and usually cry late at night to this day. I am very sorry for your loss. You are not alone.

    • Lauren says...

      Hi Theodora,

      At some point, you may want to consider joining a grief support group. I attended some, and there were quite a few people who lost children, and specifically to suicide. You may find comfort in being in a space where you can be open, without fear of judgment, and surrounded by others who have been exactly where you are. Wishing you this best.

  31. Valerie says...

    I lost my mom when I was 14. For the first year, I would try and convince myself that she was just at the grocery store and would be back any moment asking me to help her unload the groceries from the car.
    It’s baffling how grief is, even 18 years later. It does get easier as time passes, but sorrow tends to hit at the most peculiar times, like seeing her favorite perfume at the mall for example.
    My piece of advice is do not be afraid to bring up the person who passed to their loved ones, and mention them by their name. Nothing makes me happier than hearing stories about my mother from people who knew her. They’re stories that I would not have known otherwise.

  32. Amanda G says...

    Grief is definitely a squirrely creature. My grandma passed away more than 12 years ago, but the other day I almost broke down thinking about how she won’t be at my wedding this summer. Almost instantaneously, I realized I wanted nothing more than to wear her pearls on my special day, so I returned all the other wedding jewelry I’d purchased and instead bought some coordinating pearl earrings. I’m thankful I’ll be able to keep her close to my heart even if she can’t be there in person <3

    • Erin says...

      Such a good idea, and reminds me of one of my younger cousins: She wanted to somehow include our grandmother, who had died a year or two before her wedding, in the festivities. She happened to have the same size feet as our grandma, so she wore a pair of grandma’s shoes — hot pink high heels! — under her wedding dress. It was great.

    • Lauren says...

      Lovely!

    • Lara says...

      I can relate, Amanda. Nothing could compensate for my Gran not being there, but in wearing her much-loved necklace as my “something old” I felt as though she was still part of the day. I also wore my Mum’s (her daughter’s) bracelet as my “something borrowed” which meant a lot. I hope your wedding day is wonderful and, of course, your grandma would be very proud :)

  33. Ashley says...

    Such wonderful comments – once again reminded of what an amazing community Cup of Jo has created.
    I have a few things that have come to serve as symbols of loved ones I have lost – every time I see a cardinal, I’m reminded of my grandmother. I didn’t intentionally pick something to represent her, but I remember seeing one the day after she passed away and feeling, in some way, like she was there. Now cardinals have become almost a sort of a talisman – I always feel like when I see one, she’s with me, and perhaps, I’m where I’m supposed to be. It’s a lovely, comforting thought.

    • Bridget says...

      I am sorry for ypur loss. I think the cardinal thing is more common than you might realize. My mom told me her mother – my beloved Irish grandma -always used to say that when you see a cardinal, it means a loved one who has passed on is checking in on you. About a year and a half ago, my grandma passed away. Now whenever I see a cardinal, I always think of her. Last summer a cardinal feather got stuck on the door of my shed and I couldn’t bring myself to take it down. I still miss her so much! Wishing you some cardinal sightings!

  34. Amanda says...

    It doesn’t matter if the death happened last month, two years ago, or ten years ago, I always let my loved ones know that I am thinking of them and their dearly departed. For some friends, I make more of an effort as compared to other friends. Some friends I send small gifts or a card, other friends I send a text letting them know he or she isn’t alone in remembering their dearly departed.

  35. Leah says...

    Some years ago, someone in my life “died” without actually dying. She suffered a brain injury at 36, so her body is still there, but she’s not really “there”. Sometimes it seems like she’s there (she can go to a store and buy groceries), and she can still perform basic functions (bathe, feed herself, etc), but she has hallucinations, delusions, and presents severe dementia-like symptoms. (Eg. Not knowing who the people around her are, being paranoid, forgetting whole periods of time, etc. )

    I know it’s not the same as a true complete death, but this kind of ambiguous grief has been so difficult for me. So many people don’t seem to allow your grief. They’re like: “Well, she’s still alive.” But it’s not the same person, the person has died, and it’s like you don’t get a chance to bury them or that sense of closure. Instead, people tell you miraculous stories of recovery, when I know there’s no possibility of that here.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Amanda G says...

      Hi Leah –

      I can (maybe, kinda) relate. My experience isn’t exactly the same, but about 13 years ago my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and went through an incredible brutal round of chemo and radiation. Although she emerged on the other side cancer -free, the treatment completely changed her, turning her into a completely different person. I’m not sure if the change was due to the meds coupled with the emergence of a mental illness (which has run rampant in previous generations of our family), but it ended up dissolving the mother I knew and loved into an incredibly angry and volatile person.

      After more than ten years of attempting to reconcile the person she is now with the mother I knew, after a decade of fighting to keep a relationship with her regardless of how many hurtful things she said or how many times she tried to push me away, I ultimately decided that the best thing to do was distance myself from her. Some days, the magnitude of her no longer being in my life is enough to take my breath away, but I know it was the best thing I could have done for the happiness of myself and my soon-to-be husband.

      The realization that she won’t attend my wedding in June has sent me down a whole new avenue of grief, similar and yet dissimilar to what I experienced when I first decided to end our relationship. I get a lot of people who tell me that we will eventually reconcile, or that I should invite her to the wedding anyways, or that she’s my mother so how can I possibly think it is right to choose not to have her there. It’s a weird line to toe, finding a socially acceptable way to tell them that she is simply no longer the mother I knew and loved, and that all the mean and hurtful things she said to me finally came to be too much.

      In those regards, I completely understand that ambiguous sort of grief you speak of. My advice would be to come to some sort of peace with the fact that you have lost the person you once knew, and attempt to start fresh without any preconceived notions, as if you are getting to know a completely new person. If my mother were to approach me and ask to begin a relationship again, that is what I would do…

      xx Amanda

    • Claire says...

      Extraordinary experiences. You women are both so very strong and brave. I am sorry for your losses and your pain. I wish you both peace.

    • Amy says...

      I can relate to this as well. My mom suffered a TBI 15 years ago when I was 17. She became a totally different person. She went through a few years of having a volitile personality, and continues to experience memory loss and has difficulty with executive functioning.. My dad had died from cancer just 5 months before her brain injury, so to make the experience even harder, my sister and I had to repeatedly remind her throughout her initial recovery why he wasn’t around. She made an incredible recovery (contrary to the prediction on nurse told my sister and myself that she would “be a vegetable for the rest of her life.”), but it unfortunately took a good ten years before I was able to truly accept her and move forward instead of mourning the loss of my “old mom.” She is 74 now and we think she may be starting to experience dementia, which is a whole new ballgame, but as I have accepted the reality of who she is now, I enjoy my time with her so much more. She’s funny and quick witted, and even if she doesn’t have a lot to say, she will always listen about my day and be excited about the accomplishments of her girls.

    • Leah says...

      Amanda, that’s almost exactly what I mean. I mean, it sounds like you’re not dealing with the exact same kind of brain damage/mental illness, but definitely a different person regardless.

      I’ve heard that with cancer, if you have a preexisting condition like a mental illness, sometimes the treatments can make it worse. My close friend said the worst part of her husband’s testicular cancer weren’t the cancer treatments themselves, but when he was hospitalized with a flare-up of bipolar disorder and some psychosis about a month after the chemotherapy. He’s been on anti-psychotics ever since. I wish more people talked about that specific side effect of treatments. I don’t think what happened to your mom is totally unusual, sadly.

      And of course what’s hard about for the family is that it’s so insidious. Is she being mean because she’s going through a tough time? Will she recover? Should I be more patient? Am I being loving and supportive enough?

      So you go through all of that – trying to be supportive, having a thick skin, being extra generous and extra patient – for years! And all through, the cracks are showing – the mean comments, the mood swings – and you start to realize: “Chemically, this doesn’t seem like the same person. The mind is different.” and eventually you decide that you need to start protecting yourself and grieving that loss. Except sometimes, other people, who don’t know you or her or the situation – they make assumptions, like you haven’t tried hard enough, or something. As though it’s not already painful enough.

      I’m really sorry your mom won’t be at your wedding. Obviously my hope is that things get better for her, but I totally understand exactly what you’re talking about.

      I feel (mostly) at peace with the loss now, but sometimes something happens where it hits me fresh. I’m sad not only for my loss, but for hers. I think what a tragic thing that is, to lose control of your mind like that. I wish we knew more about the brain!

  36. Rose says...

    Sarah, you are so right. 16 years ago my sister died at 2 months old and I was the one to find her with my mom. I was 8 at the time. Two years later my parents had another daughter and she has been the light of my family’s life. And yet, not a day goes by where we do not carry the pain of my sister’s death. In fact, she is the reason why I chose to pursue medicine. Every day that I find myself overwhelmed by the commitment of medical school, I remember my purpose. My parents continue to grieve the loss of their second daughter and I still break down at inopportune moments. She is and always will be a part of me and with every laugh there will always be an ache. ❤️

    • Shirley says...

      Rose, I am so sorry that you were the one to have to find your baby sister, and at such a young age. My daughter will be turning 8 soon and I can’t imagine her having to bear such a heavy responsibility. I hope that you have been able to find a counselor or therapist to unburden yourself and to process this trauma with. I am actually finishing up my master’s degree in counseling next month and am fully convinced that everyone can use therapy, especially those who suffer an injury that is invisible to others, like you have. I lost my sister-in-law and mother at the very beginning of my program (this is a second career for me and it took many years for me to get here) and like you, these losses have motivated me to become the best counselor possible and to help others going through a difficult time. My experience with grief and loss has propelled me to be the best counselor possible, for the worst possible reasons. Sending love to you and best of luck with medical school.

  37. Laura C. says...

    Seriously, I want to reply every single grieving comment to send hugs and support to everybody who has suffered a loss. May this comment be a big hug for all of you.

  38. Laura says...

    I was 18 when my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. Sitting in the front row for the funeral felt like the loneliest thing in the world. My godmother leaned up and told me to make sure I turned to see how full the room was. Turning to take in how many people loved him and our family brought me a moment of comfort on an awful day. I always try to pass on that advice.

    I also found that in the thick of it, I was encouraged by turning back to children’s books about grief. They helped give me perspective. Some of my favorites are “Badger’s Parting Gifts” and “Cry Heart But Do Not Break.”

  39. Jenna says...

    Thanks for this post and all the beautiful comments. For those who are grieving, or for those wanting tips on how to support a grieving loved one, I’ve found Nora McInerny’s book, “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)” and podcast, “Terrible, (Thanks for Asking)” to be so helpful. She also has awesome organizations to help others going through hard times (and you can donate or pick up some rad Still Kickin merch to help someone else feel better, which might make you feel better too). I hope you check her out if you are feeling alone in your grief. And yes, I cried at my desk too. xoxo

    Here’s her website, if you’d like to look :)
    http://www.noraborealis.com/

    • Amy says...

      I love her- she’s a fellow Minnesotan and I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak a couple of times.

  40. bisbee says...

    “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.”

    What a wonderful way to state this…very important to remember, especially when thinking about the loss of a parent. It is supposed to be only part of the exhibit…an inevitable

  41. Kelsi says...

    I lost my best friend to brain cancer in the fall of 2010. She was 28 and one of those ridiculously healthy, conscious people who should probably be on the cover of a co-op magazine or a yoga DVD.

    Sometimes I go weeks without thinking about her, because it’s been so long now, and other times I get fresh waves of grief. I was very close to her family and my pain this whole time has been for them, as parents and brothers, especially now that I am a mother. Last night as I lay with my sick 3 year old, who couldn’t fall back asleep because of a stuffy nose, I wept thinking about them and how they witnessed their daughter die, in hospice, in their family home. I am so glad she was with them in the end and not a word was left unsaid but I just can’t imagine the unspeakable grief of losing a child at any age. I’ve come to realize that, in a way, her death is the reason why I am able to find unexpectedly deep wells of patience and compassion at 2:30 AM. Every moment counts.

  42. Betsy says...

    I believe it’s not about what you say but how you listen. When my father -in-law died suddenly a few years back, that is just what I did. I listened to his family, friends and church family. I cannot tell you how many people told me what a blessing it was to have someone to just sit and listen to them for a while.

  43. Katy says...

    This one got me:

    “…it isn’t just missing my mom, but how do I live the rest of my life without her?”

    • bisbee says...

      The answer is to turn the question around. Be grateful that it isn’t your mother asking the same question about losing her child. That is how you live.

  44. Holly says...

    Oh that last one made me burst into tears. How touching just to be close to someone. People seem to fear those who are grieving, but often just having people close who expect nothing (not even conversation) is the best kind of support.

  45. I am not religious at all but the Quaker story is really lovely. Thanks for sharing, Nellie.

  46. Rachael says...

    I lost my mother unexpectedly 17 years ago (I was 14). I still carry it with me every day and experience the loss in different ways as my life progresses. I had my first child last year and experienced the loss of my mother then in a new and profound way, upon realizing the depth of a mother’s love. As I approach the age she was when she passed (soon!), I’m sure it will strike me as well. Grief just becomes a part of who you are but the pain becomes less sharp over time. Although I could cry right now thinking about it and reading these beautiful quotes.

  47. Roberta Lipman says...

    I lost my precious mother 6 mos ago and I’m still in shock.like how can it be i will never see/speak to her again..the permanence. What helps is a photo I too of her right after she passed and she just looks asleep and its comforting. Also i took phone videos of her and when i need to i see/hear her comments and its like shes still alive. I just wish the world knew how special and unique she was never to grace this sorry world again.

    • Ana says...

      Roberta, I lost my Father to cardiac arrest 6 months ago. I couldn’t relate more to your mechanisms. I find myself doing random searches on my gmail inbox, just so I can read his random emails telling me about his trips; new restaurants he tried and just everyday things, like asking me if I’d get the car to the mechanic!! It feels so good to “listen” to him. I’ve been trying hard to allow myself to feel the loss on an everyday basis; everything else just feels wrong. I wish you the best!! May our parents live forever through our memories.

  48. Claire says...

    Bawling my eyes out….

  49. Nicole says...

    I lost my beloved husband 5 months ago and I stumbled upon this article looking for answer that I know will never be answered, and all I can say is Thank you as I read each comment I found I am not the only one in the world going through this. So Thank you.

    • Brittany says...

      I’m so sorry, Nicole. I don’t know you, but you’re in my thoughts and prayers as you grieve your husband. So much love to you.

    • Hilary says...

      Nicole, I am so sorry for your loss, I hate to think how tough that must be.

    • Jan says...

      I lost my beloved husband and soulmate a month ago. Instead of chatting with him now, I am sitting here in silence reading this. I get a little bit of comfort in knowing I am part of a sisterhood and not so unique.

    • Claire says...

      I am so very sorry for your loss.

    • Bill says...

      I suddenly lost my husband and partner of 20 years, 3 months ago today. The pain is unbearable. I don’t want to live without him but know I have no choice. He was the kindest sweetest most caring person and he shouldn’t be gone. I think as a society we suck at dealing with grief. So many people say the wrong things to me. Only the people who have had a loss of someone very close to them understand and are comforting. I’ve ready every book, gone to a grief therapist, joined a grief support group, try to keep busy and none of it works. I’m lost without him.

  50. There is also the grief that comes with never being able to meet someone. My older brother died of SIDS 28 years ago, one year before I was born. Since I never got to meet him I grieve both my brother and the fact that we never met.

  51. Emily says...

    I lost my dad in November to multiple illnesses, but lung cancer was the period at the end of his sentence. He was the parent I was closest to. I (like all who knew him) was enamored by him. My dad had an interesting, fun life and he was charismatic, kind and curious. He lived generously and always tried to treat everyone fairly. Stories were currency to him and he spent most of his life trading them – both listening with bemusement and telling his own with his trademark wit. I miss him everyday.

    He was sick for a long time before he left us and I spent years fearing his death, wondering how I’d cope. When the time came, I managed to “hold” it together for my family… for him. I was the one who planned his memorial service and felt strongly that I wanted to celebrate his life in the way that he deserved. In those initial weeks I focused on making sure he got his due and to make sure it happened, I couldn’t fall apart.

    It wasn’t until my dog of 12 years passed away a couple months later on New Year’s Day that the floodgates opened. I realized I had been keeping myself afloat by compartmentalizing and distancing myself from my grief, but suffering so much loss in three months time forced me to reckon with it.

    The thing that I realized about grieving is that there is no right or wrong way to experience loss. My entire family has processed my dad’s death in completely different ways. At the moment, nearly 6 months later, we’re all still adrift in our own seas of grief and coping in our own way. I don’t think we’ve quite figured out how to “grieve together” but, for now at least, I think that’s okay.

    At the moment, I’m trying to figure out how to be in a world without him in it and how best to honor him daily in my own life. Right now I’m trying to do that by living my life by his tenets:
    Prioritize relationships over money.
    Endeavor to be kind, patient, generous and fair.
    Treat everyone with respect.
    Spend a lot less time talking about yourself and more time listening to others – because otherwise you might miss a good story.

  52. Meagan says...

    This post is so aptly timed as I go through my 4th miscarriage in 3 years. One thing I’ve come to learn about grief after a miscarriage is that each time feels so different. No loss will ever feel the same as the ones before. With each one, you are different and your life’s landscape is different. I feel like people are surprised by this when they ask how I’m doing but when I explain “this time feels different because”, it helps them understand that grief is forever changing from loss to loss, day to day or even minute to minute.

    • Nicole says...

      I’m so very sorry for your different losses. I may be a stranger but I’m sending you love and light.

  53. My mom very recently lost her dad, my grandpa, a few weeks ago. It has been my mom’s biggest loss so far, and it happened very quickly, very sadly and unexpectedly. She’s been having a really tough time this week, so I’m relieved to have come across these beautiful and heartfelt responses to grief. I emailed it to her, and I have a feeling it’s going to help her cope and feel less alone. Thank you for sharing these. :)

  54. Mandy says...

    Next month it will be ten whole years since I lost my dad. I have been thinking so much about him lately–his life and his death, and how it has changed the course of my own life. I was 19 when he died and his only child. Overnight, I had to grow up. I remember cleaning out his town home. The surreality of the experience was overwhelming, but it was the ordinary things that struck me the most. The laundry on his bed, waiting to be folded. The half-eaten bowl of oatmeal in the fridge. He died suddenly, not expecting to leave this world behind. I can’t tell you how often I think about that oatmeal in the fridge.

    Thank you so much for these beautiful words. They were exactly what my soul needed today, remembering my dad.

  55. Lesley says...

    This is a really wonderful post. Grief is such a personal and unique experience, and one of the most important things I learned from losing my father was to give myself grace in the grieving process- knowing that even four years later I might wake up and feel like it just happened, and to give the people I love grace as well. I was caught completely off guard by how much my family dynamics shifted after my dad was gone, and it took me a while to learn to give my family a break, that they were hurting too.

    I also agree that there is no “right” thing to do when someone is grieving. All that really matters is that you acknowledge it; the person who has lost someone is almost certainly thinking about it, so you’re not going to “bring it up” or make them feel worse by telling them that you’re thinking about them or bringing them something special. The day I found out that my father had terminal cancer, I called my best friend who lived in another city. She listened so patiently and cried with me over the phone. About two hours later I got a text to check my front porch; she had dispatched her sister who lived in my city to bring a bag full of junk food and wine (ALL the wine) and drop it off. It was wonderful and exactly what I needed in that moment. She didn’t know what the right thing to do or say was, so she just did whatever she could.

    Now I tend to reach out with an email or text or hug or meal to even acquaintances who I know have recently lost someone. I had no idea how much an acknowledgement and kind word means to people in the midst of grief until I went through it myself.

  56. Sarah says...

    My mom died of cancer when I was 15. I remember being a zombie at the funeral and sitting through a lunch that the church had put on, during which I barely ate and spent most of the time overwhelmed while chatting with distant relatives. My beloved aunt must have noticed I wasn’t eating and at one point said, “wouldn’t you just LOVE a juicy burger right now?” I agreed it sounded good. When I got home she discretely handed me a big bag of burgers. Man, I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten anything as nurturing as that bag of burgers, quietly recovering from the chaos alone in my room.

  57. Nancy says...

    Last year, my maternal grandparents died within 6 weeks of one another and there are two lessons I learned. First, I don’t live in the same city that they did and when my grandfather took a turn for the worse, it didn’t look like I’d make it there in time. My therapist recommended that I call my mother and ask her to put the phone to his ear, so that I could say goodbye. Who knows if he was able to hear or absorb what I said, but it was incredibly meaningful to me to share some favorite memories and say one last time how much I loved him. He passed the following day. I did the same thing when my grandma went into a coma 6 weeks later. It’s far better to say goodbye, however you can, than to miss the chance.
    Then a friend’s kindness was, after my grandfather’s funeral, to warn me that people who are together as long as they were often go quickly one after the next. He apologized, feeling insensitive, but I didn’t feel it was. I appreciated the warning. It help my grandmother’s passing feel merciful because she wanted to be with her husband.

  58. Elizabeth says...

    “just do something, anything. I’ve always agonized about doing the ‘right’ thing. But she just did something”

    This! My best friend’s dad died unexpectedly this past summer. We are thirty years old and it was very sudden and unexpected. From the moment I heard, I did what seemed most natural to me. Which in my case meant rushing to her hometown, calling her other close friends, trying to help and stay out of everyone’s way at the same time. The whole time internally, I agonized over every decision. Was it the “right” thing to do.

    In hindsight, stressing about my own feelings of appropriateness seems at best selfish and at worst egomaniacal. But I think it also sheltered me from feeling the enormity of her new reality at the time.

    Thank you Jo and Co. for writing about grief.

  59. Lynn says...

    Thank you for this post! My mother died 3 years ago and some days I am okay and others I am heavy with grief. I truly believe that I am closer to her in spirit than I ever was in the physical. I smell her and I actually can feel when she is around. I even talk to her when I’m in the kitchen…she was an amazing cook and I say “okay Ma… guide me on this one”.

    • Roberta Lipman says...

      Yes there are some dsys it’s overwhelming ly painful. Im glad I’m not the only one to deal with that..that its not unusual. Howi want her back for one more kiss.

  60. Erin says...

    When my grandpa passed away, a friend of our family saved the program from his service and made a candle with it. She said someone made one for her when her dad died and she lights it on the anniversary of his death, his birthday, and any other days she feels the call to. I love that tradition, it’s so important to remember those we love!

    • Sarah says...

      What a lovely gift!

  61. Karen says...

    My father died suddenly and unexpected 14 years ago, when he was just 60 years old. I still think about him every day. The hardest part is all the things he has missed. He got to meet the man who is now my husband, but he never got to see us get married. And worst of all, he never got to meet his grandchildren. He would have loved being a grandfather and my children are missing out on so much because he is not with us anymore. It affects so many people, even those who never met him.
    I remember at his funeral, someone came up to us and said that at least now the worst part is over. But that’s not true. The worst part is not the time between death and the funeral. That grief bubble where everyone calls, sends flowers and visits. The worst part is afterwards, when everyone else goes on with their lives and you realise you have to do the same, but yours is not the same life anymore and never will be. Grief is hard and it never goes away, but you learn to live with it and you slowly learn to accept your new life.

    • Toni says...

      I feel exactly how you do. I lost my father before I got married too. And you’ve perfectly described the emotions that come up when I think about my dad and all he will miss. It’s only been 3 years for me but I anticipate having those same feelings about my own future children.
      The worst part is definitely knowing that the empty seat will never be filled again.
      Sending you virtual healing vibes.

  62. txilibrin says...

    I got a new job opportunity in the USA, while my family stayed in our home country, Spain. In that time, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. At some point he was getting better, I remember his last Christmas having so much fun. Next time I talked to him on the phone, February, he couldn’t almost talk. A week after, my aunt called me, and I took the next flight there. I had a day with him. But he didn’t even recognize me. I remember he laughed because my phone got stolen the day before flying.
    I regret not being there during his last months, but he wouldn’t have let me just leave everything and go.
    I never talk to anyone about him, because no one asks, but I’d love to. Even my husband doesn’t know how to talk about death.
    I miss him every single day. I love thinking about him, remembering good moments, but when it happens before going to sleep I end up with my eyes wide open for two hours, sometimes crying, sometimes missing him to death.

    • maia says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss and for the loneliness you describe. I felt that too when my boyfriend died. Finding anyone to speaks about that really helps, and also for my part, journaling and dance therapy helped a lot!
      I hug you from France!

  63. Andrea says...

    Sometimes the most unexpected connections are made in the wake of a death. My Gram died a few years ago after suffering from dementia for over a decade. It was sad, but also such a relief knowing that she wasn’t locked inside that shell of herself anymore. My daughter was just one at the time. A few months later, we received an unexpected box addressed to my daughter. The return address was an uncommon name, and as I brought the box in, I remember saying to my husband that the only person by that name I’d even known was my first grade teacher. We opened the box and found a handmade teddy bear and a card, from my first grade teacher. My grandmother had made the bear the year I was in first grade and had given it to my teacher as a gift. She had kept it for 30 years, both in her classroom and at home with her grandchildren. Her note told me that she felt it was time for him to come home to us, to give my daughter something of her great-grandmother’s. It was one of the sweetest and most unexpected gifts. Not only did we have a treasure to pass down, but she cared enough about me and my grandmother, 30 years later, to track me down and send him to me.

    • This is amazing!

    • Katie G. says...

      This is so beautiful.

    • Christine says...

      What a beautiful story.

  64. Cynthia says...

    Grief is hard. You never really get over the death of a loved one, but you learn to adjust. My dad died 44 years ago when I was nineteen and in college. I really missed him at all the important parts of my life-college graduation, marriage, the births of our daughters, their baptisms and confirmations, their graduations, and our youngest daughter’s wedding. My younger brother and only sibling passed away from lung cancer almost 8 years ago. Sad to say he missed his youngest niece’s wedding. My mom passed away a year and half ago. She was 94, and active until the last minute. We still talk about my brother and my mom. I talk about my dad, too, but obviousy, my husband never got to meet him. Holidays are hard, and even something such as seeing Mother’s Day cards, gives me some tears. Some of mom’s friends called her the “Energizer Bunny” because she was so active, and those commercials are now on TV, so I think of her and feel it’s a sign that all is well.

  65. Sarah says...

    I lost my amazing mom to cancer a month ago tomorrow. Up until reading this, I hadn’t cried for about 24 hours and now the floodgates have opened! Reading this post and all of the comments has been a mini therapy session for me, so, thank you, everyone.

    • Linds says...

      I am so sorry, Sarah. Will be thinking of you today.

    • Kristen says...

      I lost my sister to cancer 9 years ago tomorrow. I’m so sorry about your mother. Sending hugs

  66. Laura M says...

    When my dad died about 10 years ago a very good friend came to see me and gave me a very pretty colored box . It was big enough to hold papers and cards and letters and other items that I received from people remembering my dad. She said “I know you’re going to be getting a lot of correspondance from other people and you won’t know where to put them but you won’t want to throw them away—you can use this box.” It was SUPER helpful. I have given the same gift to many friends after a significant loss— ALL of them have commented on how helpful it was. I go to the container store and pick out medium size box in a pretty teal blue color- something that will stand out even if it’s put away in a closet or in the attic. Thank you for this topic Cup of Jo, I appreciate it.

    • Reb says...

      This is such a beautiful idea. Thanks for sharing …

    • Christine says...

      I love this idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

  67. Clare Agra says...

    I love the idea of marking a reminder on your calendar 6 months, or whatever, down the line to check in with whoever lost someone. That’s so smart! We just found out my dad has pancreatic cancer so this post hit me especially hard.

  68. Elvia Ramirez says...

    My son Ocean passed away when I was 22 weeks pregnant with him last July and every day is hard and unique and beautiful and a learning experience. I’ve learned so much about grief and dealing with loss and I’d say the most crucial things that have kept me afloat have been: Be open with others about you need, I needed others to literally lift me at times because of my grief and postpartum. One day I told my friend that I just needed a bottle of wine but didn’t want human interaction and she brought it to me, I was so thankful. Even the other day I was upset because no one brought up my son at my brother’s wedding or asked me how I was doing and my thereapist told me, “I know you’d want others to remember him like you do or come to you so just go to them, tell them ‘hey I know I might get upset or emotional but it’s helpful when you ask me how I’m doing or bring up my son Ocean, it helps me feel supported'” so I’ve started doing that more. Also allowing yourself to feel everything without labels or conditions. Lastly find ways to find healing, if it means going on walks or learning something new, make that step to embrace joy in the person whose passed honor. I have found a lot of healing in reading, I’ve read Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B about four times and Paul’s When Breathe Becomes Air about three times, every time I think I need to start reading poetry or fiction again my heart yearns for their comforting words and insightful wisdom about dealing with loss and trauma. So I’m allowing myself to be comforted by their words and watching a lot of reality TV, thank you Kardashians.

    • Emma says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My daughter Madeleine died when I was 19 weeks pregnant. That was 2 weeks ago. The days are still very long and hard.

  69. Claire says...

    Nothing to add, but I am getting a lot out of the comments. Thanks to all of you who are sharing. I think this is an excellent and valuable conversation.

  70. Janet says...

    My husband’s elderly aunt lost her husband of many, many years. Knowing she was very frugal, we arranged with the electric company to pay her bill for a month, “so you can turn on the lights and leave them on through the night, when things feel especially dark.”

    • Leanne says...

      That is so kind, Janet.

    • Reb says...

      This made me cry. Such a sweet, thoughtful, practical gift.

  71. Meghan says...

    My boyfriend, the love of my life, died unexpectedly 8 months ago at the age of 29. So many things people did helped – bringing food, help with planning a memorial service, traveling to be with me (at my parent’s house, in my city, at his memorial service where he grew up), taking care of my cat, coordinating someone to be with me for almost every moment for the first 2 weeks. One thing that’s helped me immeasurably as well is the bond I’ve developed with his mother – we didn’t know each other terribly well before he died, but we’ve spoken on the phone almost every single day for the last 8 months. I spent Thanksgiving with his family (as had been our plan together), and I flew (with some of my boyfriend’s friends) out to his home state to run a race in his honor last month, with a big group of friends/family. The comfort his mom and I have found in each other has been honestly incredible, and has helped make this nightmare a little more bearable.

    • Emma says...

      Meghan — I’m so sorry for your devastating loss. Sending hugs and good energy your way.

    • Emilie says...

      Meghan, I’m so so sorry. You have been so brave in the face of such unfathomable pain. Sending you so much love, strength and comfort. Hold on tight.

    • Katie says...

      Meghan, my boyfriend died almost ten months ago, also unexpectedly, at the age of 30. The grief has been harder than I could have imagined. I miss him constantly, it is truly agonizing. I don’t have much to say other than I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Meghan says...

      Thank you all for your sweet comments. Katie, I’m so, so sorry for your loss too. It is harder than I could have imagined, too.

    • laura-london says...

      Meghan and Katie, so sorry for your losses. My boyfriend Yann died 20 years ago last month. As a 18yo, I felt in a weird limbo where I wasn’t partying like the rest of my mates, but I wasn’t a widow either. I didn’t really know his family (nor could I speak French at the time). Over the course of the past 20 years, I have established a beautiful bond with Yann’s family and friends, especially his mother, and lived in France for a while, and speak french fluently.

      To commemorate Yann’s 20th anniversary, I created a photo book for his mum/family with photos of Yann and my time together, along with updates from the organ recipients and letters from my friends in how knowing Yann and experiencing his passing had impacted their lives. Yann’s mother and brother were floored that I had done this and so, so grateful. I think they were also spirited to know that there are many people around the world who miss and think of Yann, 20 years on.
      Creating that book almost broke me – it resurfaced so many repressed memories, but it was also bitter sweet to revisit Yann and his joie de vivre.

  72. Christine says...

    My mom died five years ago, and my immediate reaction was to get pregnant- I didn’t have a Mom, so I wanted to be a mom. We were lucky and conceived my daughter the very next month.
    Now she is four, and we tell her stories about my mom all the time. Completely out of the blue one day, she said, “Grandma Weeze is dead, and when I die I’ll get to go where she is. I’M SO EXCITED TO MEET HER!”
    It was the most darling thing and made me laugh and cry all at the same time.

    • Escondista says...

      My mom died in January and I got pregnant with my second in February.
      I totally understand this and I hope both of my children know about their nana!

  73. Louisa says...

    A childhood friend – one where the family matched up with ours (3 kids each, same ages, same church), so we kind of loosely wove our families together the way that families do – died when we were 15. My mother has made his family a cake on his birthday every year since. My sister’s son was born a few years ago on this friend’s birthday – so now mom makes two cakes.

  74. Oh dear, how is it your timing is always impeccable. Poignant and beautiful.

    To the grievers on this page (including you, Jo), I so badly want to reach through the screen and sit with each of you, in silence or learn your story, your loss, your grief.

    My parents and sister were killed in a car accident 1 year ago, just before I gave birth to my first son. I sit in agonizing pain daily, I cry in the shower and to music and to the wind, the sun. I so wish I could be the mother I expected to be, with their grace and love on Earth. I try often to remember that they are still here, but damn, it hurts.

    I have hope that one day it will look different for me. What helps is a creative outlet, so I have turned to writing.

    If you are the friend of a griever, my best advice to you is to talk to them (avoidance does hurt). Ask them the simple question: how is your heart right now?

    It’s beating, I’d say.

    • Hali says...

      The fact that your heart is still beating says a lot about how strong and full of grace you are. I’ll be thinking about you and them this week.
      x

    • Sam says...

      What a tremendous loss. I’m so sorry you have to bear this pain. My prayers are will you for grace, strength, peace, and resilience.

    • Julie says...

      Oh, Alex. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous description of what life is for you right now — and I’m so sorry.

    • Alyssa says...

      Alex – in the spirit of Nellie’s comment above, lifting YOU up to the light right now <3

    • Christine says...

      Alex, My heart goes out to you. I wish I could sit with you and learn more of your story. Your response is so beautifully written. I hope I have the opportunity to read more of your writing in the future.

    • Claire says...

      What a staggering loss. I am so very sorry. I don’t know you, but I will be thinking of you. Wishing you peace, kindness, support, love, grace, comfort….everything and anything that can be helpful to you.

  75. Marlena says...

    I lost my father unexpectedly a little over 3 years ago and it has been such a journey. I bow to everyone in these comments who has traveled this road. The comment in the article that stated that your grief doesn’t get smaller, your life gets larger punched me right in the gut. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that grief never just shows itself as grief. It’s like the liquid form of love and as it’s experienced it blends into your joy and wonder and anger and all of your life’s nuanced feelings. It smooths all the hard edges away and its dark depths induce reverence in me. My grief has taught me just how much love I shared with my father and I will not force myself to keep that love from mingling with the rest of my life. Now, it is a very welcome part of everything that I am.

    • Nina says...

      You describe it with such beautiful imagery, Marlena. I’m sorry for your loss.

  76. Hannah B says...

    I forget where this comes from, but I’ve always loved the line, “Your grief is your love turned inside out.” If you loved someone deeply, it will hurt deeply, and you may think somehow that it is a sign of your weakness, but it is a sign of your capacity to love.

    • Alice says...

      Oh god thank you for this one! I just lost my beloved mom 2 months ago … I loved her so much and she gave me such a huge love too. It is so hard now … but throught this last year, when were toghether dealing with the cancer that finally caught her, we built such an enourmous energy ball of love !!! I now It’s a bit to hard to carry it alone. But I am proud of us for being able to give this incredible amount of love tonone another… thank you for sharing those experiences. This is really helping a lot…

    • “Your grief is your love turned inside out.”

      What this made me think of: I have never had a close relationship with either my mother or father. We had a very fragmented and tormented family. So when my father died, and as my mother approaches the end of her life, I am not feeling grief, just resignation. In contrast, many of my girlfriends [and the commenters here on COJ] are feeling intense grief with the loss of their parent. I would never ever say it, but I am very aware that their intense grief and sadness is the mirror image of their incredible and special love and intense bond with that parent. I have no idea what that might feel like, but I sure wish I did.

  77. Wow – this is timely. My father died in ’04 after being sick for many years. Though I’m not religious, I always assumed that my family had paid its dues and we’d be pardoned from any further heartbreak of that magnitude. But then my sister died unexpectedly last August leaving not only my mother, brother and I, but her two year old son and husband.

    I absolutely adore Cam’s quote on the TP. After the experience with my sister’s death, my husband and I have started a business with the mission of allowing folks to send things that are useful/practical when times are really hard.

    http://www.hereforyou.co

    (there’s also a blog there where I write about what to do when someone is hurting and some more about my grief experience. I’m the type of person who loves reading about other people’s grief – it brings so much comfort – so today’s post is welcomed and I hope that others out there will find comfort in what I have said.)

    • This is beautiful Kellyn – what a wonderful, thoughtful business. I am so sorry for the magnitude – losing a sister young is heart wrenching. (We were supposed to grow old together!)

      I hope your heart is well today.

    • Thank you, Alex – I really appreciate that. And – you are so right – we were suppose to grow old together! I have found myself gravitating towards widows because I connect with their ‘losing a partner.’ Alison was suppose to be one of my life partners.

      We have our first really beautiful spring day in Boston today, and I’ve had some good outside time with my 18 month old. Making it a better-than-usual day <3

  78. Jillian says...

    Once again, crying at my desk, though as per usual, a mix of sad tears and thankful ones that this beautiful place in the world (COJ & the comments) exists and shows up over and over again, almost like a tree that blooms with flowers over and over, with something even more touching and compelling than before.

    I loved all of these comments and suggestions.

    A few I’ve tried, or that I’ve loved:

    1) I lost a friend from high school unexpectedly when we were away at separate schools. We weren’t super close, but on his birthday, I wrote his parents a card describing a time he had shown me a small act of kindness (…another COJ post that made me cry!) years before. I wanted them to know that there were still people thinking of him, and that the kindness he showed the world wasn’t forgotten, and I could only imagine how hard that first birthday of his would have been. It took only a few minutes to do, but I try to do that now for the birthdays of those we’ve lost (or at least send a text).

    2) One way I love to think of grief is to remind myself that all that we feel allows us to feel its exact opposite; it hurts this much and feels like it will be forever, and that is exactly why you are able to love so big and so eternally. You couldn’t have one without the other. For some reason, knowing that your pain births your ability to love makes it seem less of a foreign intrusion being imposed or crushing down on you and more something that lives within you that lets you be who you are.

    3) Whether in grief or while other clothes of sadness, my best friend’s wonderful father says something to her that she in turn says to me and I in turn now say to others: “I’m with you, and I’m not going anywhere.” It’s so simple to say “I’m with you”, but in a moment of anxiety or depression or grief, it’s so magically comforting to hear that someone is with you right where you are, no matter how upset or hysterical you are, and the implication that there’s no sadness to big to make them leave gives you freedom to feel how you feel.

  79. Amanda says...

    My dad died 4 years ago. He was my dad, my friend, my rock. Like Anya mentions, some days it feels distant. Others like yesterday. I’m still working through how to live in a world where he doesn’t, and I think I always will.

    Some days I am still flabbergasted that I’ll never talk with him again.

    It look me a solid year or so to fully grasp and accept that I would never feel “normal” again. I had to accept the new normal.

  80. Kate says...

    This post is so timely. My dad is likely in his last months after a long battle with cancer. I have been struggling not only to deal with the illness and his decline, but also family dynamics in our very modern family, a somewhat complicated relationship with him, and how I will handle the news with my kids who are 2 1/2 and 5 so know him and see him often. One comment here that resonated with me is the fact that sometimes it’s the people you don’t know as well, but who have experienced grief themselves who are more comfortable asking about it and reaching out to talk about it. One friend, who lost her dad when she was young, after she heard from my husband that things weren’t looking good, called almost immediately. Who calls anymore?! She left a voicemail and the whole message was her singing that Stevie Wonder song “I just called to say I love you.” I started crying on the street listening to it, just feeling so lucky and thankful to have people in life who are truly there for you.

    So to anyone out there in COJ land who is experiencing grief or going through a tough time or even just having a bad day… “I just called…to say…I love you! I just called to say how much I care!” xoxo

    p.s. Yes, #cupofjodeskcry is a real thing

    • Jennifer says...

      My mom would always sing to me on the voicemails she left. I saved three over the span of several years that I really loved. One is of her singing “I just called to say I love you” and its such a treasure. Having access to the voice of someone you’ve lost is such a gift. I’m so thankful I kept those over the years.

  81. Jennifer says...

    These comments are so encouraging. I lost my mom last year and can relate so much to Anya’s words. Most days it still takes my breath away. She was young, just 53, and it was unexpected. I have two boys (ages 12 and 7) and I make sure to talk about her as often as I can around them. I don’t have any grandparents or great grandparents living so I know the importance of sharing and preserving memories. The hardest days aren’t thinking about the times I had with my mom, but rather what she’s missing. She loved the boys oh so much and would be thrilled about the smallest details of their days. It’s difficult to wrap my head around a lifetime of things I won’t get to call and share.

    • Shira says...

      I lost my mother in law and Mom within two years, both were young and both were unexpected. I talk about “the grandmas” all the time, as my kids were so little and I’m sure their memories of that time is fuzzy. Right before my mom passed away she told me of a bird that kept trying to fly into her city window; now whenever I see birds my kids think grandma is visiting (well, both grandmas). And it makes them and me think of them.

      There truly are no words. Thinking of you, Jennifer, and all the commenters here.

    • Jennifer says...

      Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, Shira. My sister-in-law lost her dad several years ago and someone told her “when cardinals appear, an angel is near”. She shared this with me when my mom passed away and I can’t help but to think sometimes when I see a cardinal that she’s visiting us.

    • Kelly says...

      Jennifer – i lost 2 uncles unexpectedly in successive Januaries – in both cases while we were readying ourselves for travel/services/etc I looked out the window and saw cardinals in my backyard – unusual here in January in Chicago! I always think of them when I see cardinals, especially during the winter months.

    • Jennifer says...

      Thank you for sharing, Kelly. It’s so comforting when you have those little moments. Those become the new big moments.

  82. Tyler says...

    these are all lovely. what resonates with me especially is the advice to say something about the deceased. i miss my mom terribly and i LOVE when people bring her up and we get to talk about how great/funny/wise she was. its the best.

    • TJPea says...

      I totally agree with this! Talking about my mom makes her feel real again.

  83. Megan says...

    My mom died when I was 22, more than 15 years ago. I lived at a boarding school growing up and a few years ago I went to a local alumni gathering, where several of those present had known her (she was a nurse at the school for many years). The random and absolutely delightful memories they shared of her (many of which would have embarrassed 16-year-old me to death–e.g. catching students making out behind the gym) were so heartwarming to hear. So yes, sharing memories of someone we’ve lost, even years after they’ve passed, is such a gift to those of us still here.

  84. Goodness this couldn’t have come at a better time.

    One week ago today (April 17) was the 6 year anniversary of my father passing away suddenly. I still don’t know how to wrap my head around grief, much less talk about it.

    What I can say is that I love nothing more than when a friend mentions him. It’s so true that the family never forgets. He’s always one thought away – even better if it’s a happy thought. :)

  85. Liz says...

    thank you. i needed to read this today.

  86. I really appreciate posts like this so much. I consider myself to be a rather empathetic person, but when my sister-in-law and very close friend lost her baby son a few years ago, I was shocked at how I had NO idea what the right thing to do for her was. These are all such lovely suggestions. Thanks!

  87. M says...

    One type of grief I had no experience with up until three years ago was amibiguous loss. A loss without closure or resolution. It’s everything from a parent who is still alive but gone to us because of dementia or Alzheimers, a kidnapping, POW or estranged child. I have lost my spouse and both parents with this type of grief & it is so hard to explain or grieve with community when that person is not gone, but they are to me. Especially if some close to us are still in denial about what is happening. I have found myself envying those with funerals and closure, because they are seen and people reach out. It is so deeply lonely to weep for my dad who is “gone” or bring support around my children who grieve their grandfather when I don’t have the capacity to explain he’s not dead, nor is my mother, but they are no longer present & we are grieving still.

    • Kelly says...

      hugs to you, m! I was thinking something similar, having gone through infertility years ago. I was overwhelmed by grief but there’s so little ritual or public acknowledgement of it. I ended up creating a little ritual for myself where I literally made a bonfire with my husband and burned years of paperwork, lab photos of all of our blastocysts that were implanted but never took, records i kept of my basal body temperature (this was pre-smart phone, everything was on paper) etc. It helped me to acknowledge that all this happened, it was so intense and painful, and i was deciding to mark it and end the medical interventions.
      I remember being very envious of a cousin who had a preemie (who is now a healthy 11 year old) while I was going through all this…she had a caring bridge website and people just poured out love and kind words for her. Not that i didn’t want that for her, but it just felt so lonely and isolating to see what happens in other circumstances compared to mine.

      Perhaps you could make up a ritual to mourn your parents’ current state that would be meaningful to you? My grandmother had dementia and was ‘gone’ for 4 years or so, but it was waves and waves of fresh grief when she did pass away. But maybe there is a way to mark your acknowledge of the real losses you are feeling now. I wish you peace!

    • This week is infertility awareness week – and it got me thinking about my friends (and strangers) who are struggling with the grief of not being able to have a family like they had planned. And how so much of that grief is unrecognized and behind closed doors.

      You are so right – those of us who have losses that are recognized have so much more freedom than those in the way you described.

      I’m sorry for your parents’ illnesses. Though I haven’t experienced that type of loss personally, I can imagine how heart wrenching it must be.

    • Nina says...

      My grandfather has Alzheimer’s and it truly is devastating to the whole family. (Have you looked up support groups in your local area or online?) To me, though, one of the most painful things is that my cousins and uncle do regard Grandad as being ‘gone’ already, while he’s still alive. They don’t visit him in his care home at all, because he no longer recognises them or remembers any names. There are still ways to be there for him, mostly just sitting and listening while he talks – and pretending for all I’m worth that I know what he’s talking about! There’s another resident at the home, and elderly woman who can’t even form words any more but loves to hold people’s hands – I wonder if her own family ever visit; when I’m there I sometimes let her hold hands with me. Small kindnesses can still get through to the human being underneath the terrible disease – they are not yet completely gone. I agree, we’re already grieving for so much lost, but I try to remember that it’s the person with dementia that loses most of all – we lose them, one person, but they lose everyone and even themself. I try to channel my grief into finding ways to keep showing love for my grandfather in ways that impact him, even if he has no idea who I am.

    • M says...

      Thank you for your kind replies. I am so sorry for each of your sorrows & heart aches. My father is gone bc he no longer has any cognitive function. He’s solely on life support. I appreciate your kindness so much.

    • May says...

      This too is the grief of separation and divorce, particularly because it seems to involve closure to others, but not to you inside.

  88. E says...

    It is funny how grief can hit you at the strangest times, long after the fact. My grandmother died three years ago and this past fall I presented at a conference, when I got the program and flipped through to see my session my first thought was I HAVE to mail this to Grammie, she will love seeing it! It’s those little things, like my name printed in a program that no one but her would have loved in the same way that are the hardest. The big things, weddings, kids, those are common and people talk about who is missing them, but the little day to day things can make you feel suddenly adrift, even if it is just for a moment.

    • Alyssa says...

      Yes, this happens to me a lot too! I’ll think of something I want to call and tell her and then realize, I can’t.

      Here’s to grandmas who are STILL proud of us, even after they are gone.

  89. Liz says...

    When my Dad first died, our garbage man gave us a new, huge, industrial, rolling trash can. He reasoned that after a death you end up with a lot of guests and a lot of things to sort and clean out and that means a lot of extra trash. It was so mundane, and practical, and deeply genuine. I think about his quiet kindness often.

    It’s not the sort of thing anyone but your garbage man would think of, or be able to do anything about. But I was struck by how grateful I was that someone noticed the little hardships in my grief. And how much value there is in offering exactly what you’re uniquely equipped to give, no matter how unconventional.

    • Heather says...

      Whaa??? How did he know? Are you sure your garbage man wasn’t an angel? What a great story.

    • Hali says...

      Amazing!!

  90. Kelli Fletcher says...

    Four years ago, before my first baby was born, my grandmother died. I was very close with her and it pained me that I couldn’t be there to say goodbye. She and my family were states away while I couldn’t travel due to the pregnancy. A sort of family feud took place. My family prepared for her funeral without me and I felt alone in my grieving. My son arrived days later and brought us all much-needed happiness, but within that, I felt there was no more time to mourn my loss. I waded through the first year, not realizing that most likely, not dealing with my grief also contributed to much of my PPD and PPA. But my mom. My mom disappeared. She was a shell of herself for a very long time. But she never wanted to talk about it either. I had a hard time with this. I felt I should be the one that got to retreat, since I didn’t get my “allotted” time. Many months of therapy helped me realize that we all grieve so differently. As simple as it sounds, it’s hard to remember. Even more, I couldn’t possibly imagine the level at which my mother was grieving. Slowly, I began peppering in things about my Gram. Asking my mom questions about her, recalling memories and even, talking about how much I missed Gram and how I wish every day I was there to say goodbye. It took many many MANY tries of outreach. But my mom began to reappear bit by bit. I could see her again and one day, shortly after my daughter was born 3 years later, she reached back for me. Grief is a crazy thing. We all go through it, but it looks so different. Posts like this are so excellent because they remind us, we’re not alone in all the different ways we feel. Thank you!

    • Carolyn says...

      Gah, I admire the persistence of your love.

  91. I lost my grandmother two weeks ago. She was my last grandparent, and her loss has been very hard to deal with. I have been unbelievably touched by the condolence gestures, big and small, that the people around me have shown. I’m trying to be patient with myself during this time, and to show up for and check in with the others in my life who are also grieving.

  92. Fran says...

    This is lovely. I will take away many wonderful & thoughtful ideas, especially the term ‘I am holding you in the light’. So simple & so beautiful. While I am Jewish by birth but do not practice, I continue the tradition of planting trees in memory whenever someone has passed. Many organizations will do so & send a lovely card to the family alerting them of the planting(s). I’m hopeful that knowing something beautiful & strong & grounded is growing as a result of your loved one brings a smile to their face.

  93. The black arm band comment made me cry. I’m not generally one to go about explaining how bad things are, when they are. How nice it would have been when I lost several people at once to have had a way to signal to the world that I was sad, and lost. A whole array of colors would be grand, wouldn’t it? Black for death. Blue for post-partum depression. Or in the case of yesterday, yellow for “I didn’t want to cancel my birthday lunch, but I have a raging UTI and I’m not really up for this outing.” The possibilities are endless.

    • Claire says...

      ha! what about one with a ? + X that means “yeah, I don’t really know what’s up with me today but I really just need some space.”

  94. Steph says...

    Thanks for making me cry at work, CoJ. I’ll definitely be remembering these for the future.

  95. Lauren says...

    I recently found out that miscarried with my first pregnancy when I was 11 weeks along and the sadness from that experience overwhelmed me in a way I was not prepared for. The hormonal crash that followed the D&E procedure completely knocked the wind out of me. I feel like I am slowly becoming myself again, but this experience with profound grief has definitely changed me and I know I will never quite be the person I was before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since I feel like I have grown from the experience, but it is still difficult to reconcile. Sending hugs to everyone dealing with their own sadness and grief xx

    • Lauren – your words match my feelings from my miscarriage in 2015.

      This is one of those ‘silent grief experiences.’ Some people knew what had happened – but most didn’t. I couldn’t go back to work for two weeks and had a lot of issues of guilt/anger/confusion about the experience. Also a lot of anxiety when I finally returned and there were a lot of questions (from my coworkers, 3rd grade students, and their parents).

      Thinking of you.

    • Connor says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss Lauren. I miscarried with my first pregnancy too several years ago and the grief was overwhelming. Sending you hugs and wishing you well.

    • Louise says...

      I’m so sorry, Lauren. One thing that helped me after my miscarriage was how many women I knew who had suffered a miscarriage who offered support. It made me feel less alone. My husband was kind and supportive, but he didn’t understand how profound the loss was physically and emotionally.

  96. Melissa says...

    Oh man, I’m crying. Working from home today because my dog is sick and it feels like the end is close for her. This post feels especially poignant with her curled up on my lap.

  97. Hali says...

    It’s the grief posts that make me most grateful for this blog. Thank you for making space to talk about this in a practical and loving way. My grandma passed suddenly in February. I’ve never lost someone I’ve loved before, it’s completely changed the landscape of my life. The day my grandma passed, my fiance’s mom was unexpectedly placed in hospice care for metastatic cancer and we have only days left with her now. 2018 has been a crash course in the process death for us.

    When his mom passes, I’ll be here day in and out, sharing our tiiiiny apartment, working from home as he continues his crazy medical school studying (mostly from home) while grieving. It’s going to be intense. It’s all I think about some days. What can I possibly and practically do? How will I be able to help him emotionally? How do you brace for this? Every call I get from him causes me to hold my breath. We’ve been together for almost a decade but this experience is so new to us. While it’s brought us closer, it feels like we’re living under a really large brick.

    I’ve learned that everyone grieves differently, which is often hard to remember. I’ve learned the insane value of normalcy (!!) and how nice it is to slowly return to it: like returning to the gym, cleaning the bathroom and knowing what day of the week it is. I’ve learned not to ask how to be helpful, but to guess how to be helpful. I’ve learned that patience and understanding are the most important ways to display love right now.

    Lots of love to the grieving. x

    • Janet says...

      We are currently navigating this – my mom recently passed away from Alzheimer’s.

      Nothing can fully prepare you for what is coming but you are already doing so great – not asking how to help us good :) For me, I’d say communication is key. And love. The rest will come.

      X

  98. Chelsea says...

    This is so timely. My family and I just returned from a trip to Texas for my father-in-law’s funeral. I loved the comments about condolence gifts. When we arrived at my in-law’s house the fridge was overflowing with casseroles and the countertops and table were filled with baked goods. These were all appreciated and so kind, but I think it’s good to think of other options as well, such as gift cards or healthy foods. My mother-in-law is a vegetarian and very healthy eater but most of the food contained meat and was super heavy. Even though the rest of the family are not as quite as health-conscious as she is, we quickly tired of casseroles and sweets. Also, not many people think to bring drinks. We went to the store multiple times to buy beer and wine and went out each morning to make a coffee run. Having these things on hand would have been so nice.

    Also, if you know there will be children around, bringing kid-friendly snacks and meals is wonderful. One friend brought over a big tray of chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A, which was perfect for all the grandkids (and many of the adults), as the kids were not too fond of the casseroles. ;)

    • Eliza says...

      My go-tos for parents with young kids who are sick/grieving/experiencing a hard time are Costco-sized fruit platter, veggie platter, a dozen+ croissants, and/or one of those meat and cheese trays. So easy for parents to serve to kids without too much effort, fairly healthy, and fairly light.

  99. Rhianna says...

    This post comes at a perfect time. My father passed away two and a half weeks ago from a very long battle with cancer. Thank you for this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so sorry, Rhianna.

  100. Ji says...

    After my father passed away I couldn’t even walk without feeling the world on my shoulders. I would ask my boyfriend to check that I was wearing all my clothes before leaving the house because I just couldn’t even think about stepping outside, even more so getting dressed. It eventually turned into other type of grief. I find it funny that I miss my dad in some unusual situations (When I have a silly joke that I know he would laugh at… when eating the brie cheese he would buy for me… While I was giving birth!!)
    Peter Gabriel’s song, I grieve, is very obvious but also summes up so perfectly that feeling of emptiness…

    • Marlena says...

      Ji, when my father passed I would play Peter Gabriel’s I Grieve over and over and over and just let it all out. I’ve loved that song since the movie City of Angels came out and it held so much healing for me when I needed it the most. I’m so glad to see another fellow traveler who was also held by it!

  101. Mia says...

    I lost my Mom two years ago and my Dad remarried just last month. Lots of therapy has allowed me to be happy that my Dad found love again; but also gives me permission to create the boundaries I need to remember and celebrate my Mom when it seems that everyone else has “moved on”. There is no such thing as moving on….you just move forward.

  102. gb says...

    I love the way our loved ones visit us through all of our senses. My grandmother, “little Granny” passed away 38 years ago. She was an avid gardener and could make anything grow. Last week she visited with me while I was working in the gardens at our Ronald McDonald House. My work companion was fertilizing flowers while I was planting. There was a steady breeze. My fellow gardener took a hand full of the fertilizer and spread it over a large pot of flowers. At that moment my grandmother visited me through the pungent smell of the fertilizer. I was transported back to little Granny’s backyard as she fertilized and water her flowers. It was a beautiful moment.

  103. Lucy says...

    Thank you so much for this.

  104. Sarah says...

    Oh my. I held it together until that very last comment about holding a person in the light. I lost my mom nearly 5 years ago, and every single comment above holds so much truth. I also used to be the person who felt awkward following a death–not knowing what to say and not wanting to mention the person who had died for fear of saying the wrong thing or bringing up something unpleasant. Once it happened to me, I realized how much I craved hearing her name. I wanted to talk about her ALL the time, and I wanted to hear others talk about her and ask about her as well. In the immediate aftermath of her death there were times I was able to talk about it frankly and without falling apart–I appreciated most the friends who could listen without acting surprised or saying “you seem to be handling it well.” Not being judged for how you appear to be coping (since this changes from moment to moment), and feeling accepted no matter how you “seem” is everything.

  105. Seema says...

    The loss of someone gets easier but somehow also harder as time passes.
    My dad died 20 years ago this week. The comments in the post and the comments that followed are just what I needed – thank you for that.

  106. rose says...

    Hearts aching, prayers ascending.. we stand with you, Canada xo

  107. I love this so much. Thank you for sharing so many beautiful thoughts and ideas!

  108. rose says...

    Hearts aching, prayers ascending, we stand with you, Canada xo

    • Emily says...

      Thank you Rose.

    • Sheryl says...

      Thank you, Rose.

  109. katie says...

    My grandmother had a stroke when I was 38 weeks pregnant, two months ago. She did not want extraordinary measures so it became a matter of time. We were very close – chatting often, esp as baby approached, and she was always praying for us as a very religious woman. Amazingly she held on for nearly 10 days, passing only hours after my son’s birth. I’d like to think she knew. It was a lot to process but my sister-in-law had the most touching remark: “Danny just got THE BEST guardian angel.” I lost it, of course, but it’s a wonderfully comforting thought that she’s looking out for him.

  110. Caroline L says...

    Sitting here nursing my beautiful 4-week old daughter and missing my Mom who died less than 2 years ago and who would have been thrilled to hold her new granddaughter. I am so sad that they will never meet each other and that my 3-yr old son won’t remember her. I loved receiving food after she passed away so I didn’t have to think of that practicality, nurturing a plant that I cherish, receiving a small angel statue to represent my Mom, and having my Mom brought up in conversations (especially still today). I’m so scared that I won’t do a good job of making sure my kids know what she was like. Needless to say, my grief is making a fresh new appearance in these postpartum days.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh, Caroline, that must be so hard. I’m so sorry for your loss. What was your mom like? I’d love to hear about her. I’m sure she would have adored your sweet daughter and loved seeing you as a mom.

    • Caroline L says...

      Thank you, Joanna. My Mom took care of everyone else and was the best hostess there ever was. She became a grandmother with my nephew 8 years ago and it was the highlight of her life. She was incredibly thoughtful and helpful. I miss her so much.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      She sounds wonderful, Caroline. I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

    • Holly says...

      You’re doing a great job. The fact that you care so incredibly much about doing a good job means that you WILL do a great job. Hang in there mama!

    • Caroline L says...

      Thank you, Holly. I will certainly do my best. :-)

    • Laura J says...

      I am a NICU nurse. Babies come from heaven! Never doubt that your Mom got to be with your daughter. She saw her first. : )

  111. There’s this great book on grief that I just got by an illustrator that I love. It’s called “What To Do When I’m Gone” by Suzy Hopkins & Hallie Bateman. Suzy (the mother) writes a more or less day by day list of what to do after she die for her daughter (Hallie). I lost my grandpa back in February and grappling with the somewhat abrupt realization that my parents will someday also die has been an unexpected part of grieving him. This book was really helpful (and cute).

  112. Kerry says...

    My mom died in 2001, when I was 27. At her wake, a tiny old Catholic nun came up to me, took my hands in hers and looked me in the eye. And she said, “Honey, this really sucks.” It was a reminder to keep laughing, to say anything, to make contact, to acknowledge loss. I won’t ever forget that moment.

    • Janet says...

      Oh Kerry, what a sweetheart.

  113. Caitlyn says...

    Experiencing grief right now. This came at a very apt time. The notion of wearing a black arm band so that society could understand that I’m not ready to fully engage sounds very appealing. The last story had me in tears. I am not very religious, but the Quaker notion of being held in the light has always comforted me. I really loved this story. Thank you for sharing this post.

  114. Hannah says...

    This comment is so true. “…it isn’t just missing my mom, but how do I live the rest of my life without her?” Even though she says it’s for the first few months, it’s been 3 years since my mom died and I still feel this way. Thank you for the beautiful, heartfelt post.

    • Caroline L says...

      Yes exactly. Sometimes this thought is so overwhelming that I have to tell myself not to think about it or I will get swallowed up by it.

    • This is where I try really hard to follow the ‘one day at a time.’

      My dad died in 2004, and I no longer worry about doing life without him (which is, in and of itself, pretty tragic). But if I start thinking about the rest of the life without my big sister (who died in August) – I crumble. For now, I don’t allow myself to think about it. I just think of the next big thing (for me it will be Mother’s Day/my birthday which fall on the same day this year).

      I plan to be with her son on that day, and hopefully taking him to our hometown carnival that my sister and I loved when we were kids.

    • Eliza says...

      My grandma died at a very old age due to Alzheimer’s complications and it wasn’t unexpected at all, we had time to visit with her and say our goodbyes, and her death was surely the end of many painful, confusing days for her. Even with all this preparation, expectation, old age, and our religious beliefs to bring us comfort, my mum said to me something along the lines of “Everyone in the world is walking around as if today is an ordinary day, but don’t they know that my mum died?” Her entire world was different, even though it didn’t mean much to most people in the world.

    • Hannah says...

      @KELLYN I’m sorry about your dad and sister. I’m glad you have something fun planned for mother’s day/your birthday as I find doing things we once did with our loved ones after they are gone brings so much peace.

      PS: I just visited your site Here for You and think it’s a wonderful idea!

    • Hannah says...

      @kellyn – I’ve seen that book around and have thought about reading it! Thanks for the reminder.

  115. Lizzie Jean says...

    Yep, just another #cupofjodeskcry.

    Love you, COJ!!!

    • Katherine says...

      This!!

    • Audrey F says...

      omg yes! This is definitely a thing. I’m currently eating a quesadilla at my desk with tears in my eyes.

  116. KL says...

    My go-to gift is always a crystal sun catcher . I write a little note inside the card which says that I hope they find their dad/mom/sister/brother/friend in the colors when the sun passes through and spreads throughout the room.

    • Kim says...

      This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  117. Heather says...

    Three years ago we lost our second baby. He was born extremely premature and only lived about an hour. It is true that the grief never gets any smaller but your life gets bigger — I love that. The other day at my toddler daughters’ soccer “practice,” there was a little boy in the group named Bruno – our son’s name. His parents were calling out to him, “Go, Bruno! Yay, Bruno!” He was just about the age my Bruno would be, now. My Bruno would be kicking size 3 soccer balls about now. I’d be cheering for him. I suddenly couldn’t breathe and was struggling not to cry. But then one of my daughters needed a snack (always) and my other daughter needed her nose wiped, and the fact of this traumatic loss in my past made me grateful for the gift of being able to feed them, wipe their little noses.

    Also, this: http://wnyt.com/politics/cartoonist-depicts-barbara-bush-meeting-daughter-in-heaven-marshall-ramsey/4877217/

  118. MJ says...

    Oh my god, SOB and also I’ve been complaining about calling to sign up for homeowner’s insurance all morning, [forehead smack]. Thanks for kicking me in the butt today to remind me that life is big and precious, and infinitely more important than our everyday stressors. Lots of gentle love to those of us who have lost someone.

  119. Danielle says...

    This is such an important topic and post. My family has dealt with a lot of unexpected and devasting loss over the past 3 years. I have to agree the small acts of kindness have meant so much to us. Something that really touched me recently was when a couple of friends reached out to our boys and sent them love gifts- Fun activities (art supplies, legos, games) to provide them entertainment and know that they are loved during a very difficult time for our family. We had received so many flowers and cards, but these thoughtful gifts really brought a little light to their day.

  120. Lindsay says...

    Beautiful, thoughtful, encouraging.

    Friends if ours lost their infant son to a very rare disease. He was only 3 months old. My daughter shares his birthday, so last year I sent a card with words of remembrance. I wonder if this is appropriate to do this annually? Everyone grieves differently so I’m unsure.

    • Geneviève says...

      Hi Lindsay,
      I’m so sorry for your friends’ loss.
      I agree with Joanna, sending a card on his birthday is a beautiful way to honor their son and his memory on his special day.
      My son Étienne died a year and a half ago, he was one day old. His first birthday was so difficult but also a beautiful reminder of the community that surround my husband and I. We made sure we had a plan for the day. We had a gathering with close friends and family, had a cake and a special birthday candle for him. It is so important to acknowledge those we have lost, especially on a day as important as their birthday.

      One of the rituals I started not long after he died was to watch the sun rise every morning, to have a bit of time to myself and to create a new routine in those first few months. It is something that I cherish so much now and I return to it when I feel low or unsteady. On his birthday I received so many sunrise photos from friends all over the world sending us love and wishing my son a happy birthday. It warmed my heart so much and helped us through a very hard day.
      Xo

    • I think that’s an amazing thing to do – and even if you never hear from his parents about the card, it’s almost certainly that they were totally appreciative.

    • KYM says...

      What us bereaved Moms want the second most is for our child to be remebered. It is everything we can do to make them still exist in this world. You are an amazing friend!

  121. Amy says...

    I love this post. Thank you! But also, I’ve had a sudden health problem over the past 5 weeks that isn’t life threatening, and will end, thankfully, but the timeline is unknown, and I’ve suffered from pain, been unable to parent in my usual ways, and had to quit my work. I’d love to see a similar post for how to support people through illness and injury. And I’d be happy to give some ideas :)

  122. Emmelie says...

    Sarah’s comments about carrying the loss of her daughter even 12 years later resonate with me so much. Seven months ago, my son Tate was born and died in the same day. My husband and I are learning every day what it looks like to carry Tate with us, even though we can’t physically hold him. Daily life is getting more bearable, which makes me sad in a way because my sorrow makes me feel close to my son. It comforts me to know that even years from now, I’ll always miss him and think about him every day. I hope that’s true for me.

    • Heather says...

      Big hugs, Emmelie. He’ll always be your son. You’ll always be his mommy.

    • Avalanche Lake says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s remarkable that sorrow can do this one-two punch of receding, and then making you feel sad about its absence. I hope you continue finding peace as time moves along. Tate is a wonderful name.

  123. Laura C. says...

    Thank you for this. I’ve feel always very clumsy and, being so chatty, I am always afraid of saying something inappropriate. Sending a big hug to all of you who are grieving, especially to Canadian people at the moment.

    • Sometimes saying this aloud, “I’m sorry if what I’m saying is clumsy, I’m just so sad by what’s happened and I want to be able to tell you how much I care,” works wonders. I use that a lot when I’m trying really hard to be eloquent, but completely unable to do so…

  124. Anita says...

    All of these thoughts and advices mean so much to me now… Thank you, truly

  125. Tessa Wynn says...

    Just the right time. Today marked the first year of my dad’s passing. They say the first year is the hardest and it’s true. Any kind of special date or occasion such as birthdays and Christmas is flooded with so many emotions.

    I also have my third baby four months after his passing and it has been a quite interesting journey with her because I love her so very much and she made me so happy, and at the same time, I can be crying thinking that my father never gets the chance to know her (and nor does she).

    I remember the day I was called like it was yesterday, the 24 hours journey home felt so long but also so fast.

    • I remember the day as well, so vividly. It’s weird the things that remind you of it. Today, for me, it was the weather. My father died on April 17, and it *felt* just like it does today. I remember what I wore on the flight home. I remember just lying in my childhood bed that night and sobbing. I remember feeling achy and dull all over for weeks, maybe even months.

      That being said, I’m grateful that I remember the pain because I lived through it and am stronger for it.

      Hugs to you Tessa. I’m sure there’s a bit of your father in your babies, carrying on his legacy.

  126. Clara says...

    Thank you for this post.

    My twin brother was killed by a drunk driver last month. Today is our birthday and I’m finding the grief especially heavy and difficult to navigate. I love you, brother. Always.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so, so sorry, Clara. What was your brother’s name? Happy birthday to you and him. I’ll be thinking of you both today.

    • Heather says...

      Big hugs to you, Clara.

    • Hug to you Clara…..I am sorry

    • Clara says...

      A massive thank you to everyone. Kindness is a huge help and gentle healer. His name was Emery ❤️

    • Emilie says...

      Happy birthday Clara and Emery ❤

      I hope you somehow feel his presence at your side today Clara, I’ll be thinking of you both. You can do this.

    • Christine says...

      Clara, I am so sorry for your unimaginable loss. I will be thinking of you and Emery today.

    • Lauren says...

      The first birthday of my sister’s after she passed was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had. So, so very sorry for your loss. Thinking of you, Clara.

  127. Allie says...

    When my co-workers beloved family dog died, I made a donation in the pets name to a local canine rescue. A simple gesture to show you care and recognize their loss.

  128. gwenda says...

    My family is grieving for our parents who passed within 1 week of each other, we are glad they are together still, but the hole they have left in the family is giant. An ordinary day can be special, embrace each other.

    • Christine says...

      Gwenda, I am so sorry for your losses. Thank you for the thoughtful advice.

  129. Nicole says...

    My mom died when I was 16…more than half my life ago. I was there when she died. And I stood up at the front of our church for hours at her wake while our friends and family told me over and over again how sorry they were. And I know they were. And I know those are the words we say when someone dies. But something about that experience made me feel like I was carrying the burden of the loss, and everyone else was going to go home and get back to normal. They were sorry for MY loss. I was the one who had lost her. And then a friend of my mom’s said something to me at the funeral that I have never forgotten. She looked at me and simply said “I miss her already.” And instantly I became aware that everyone there was sharing the burden of this loss. Nobody was going home and getting back to normal. We all loved her. We all lost her. And that comment brought so much relief to a young girl who really needed to know she wasn’t alone.

    • KL says...

      Thank you for sharing this. What a lovely way to let someone know they aren’t alone in their loss and grief.

    • Melinda says...

      This is lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  130. Lisa says...

    Crying at my desk. Thankfully I work from home. These are such beautiful insights. Thank you for collecting and sharing them.

  131. Moo says...

    I was holding it together until the very end. They were all so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  132. Louise says...

    My father died three years ago from complications from dementia. The day after his funeral I found out that I had miscarried. Before that week I had never really had anything bad happen to me. Trying to process both of those things overwhelmed me so I just sort of shut down. I’ve come to terms with the miscarriage, but my grief for losing my father comes in waves. I felt guilt for not grieving him properly at the time and for feeling sadder about the miscarriage for a while. Grief is so complicated.

    • JD says...

      Louise, I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my father and suffered a miscarriage in a span of 4 months so I understand trying to process two terrible loses at once. Grief is complicated and has twist and turns I never expected. I hope you have loved ones you can lean on..

  133. Emily says...

    I lost a baby at 18 weeks a few months ago. As too many know, grieving the loss of a pregnancy is so different. To everyone else, it is sad, but “something that happens.” To me, he was my son and I loved him and had thought of him as a sure thing. Things that helped the most:
    Two close friends brought a lovely ornamental berry bush. And then planted it in my yard. Now as that bush is just starting to come back to life, I know that he was important to others, too. And that he was real.
    A couple months after, two comments helped:
    -My sister asked how I was doing. People had stopped asking, so it caught me off guard. I said I was fine and it’s not like one of my children had actually died. She said, “That is what happened. Someone did die.”
    -My best friend asked how I was doing months later and said, “I know it’s been awhile, but I think about you and the baby all the time.”

    Hugs to all those grieving babies and parents and loved ones.

    • One of my best friends lost her baby yesterday, she was about as far along as you were. The sadness is enormous. I’m so sad that you, or she, or anyone else had to endure this. It’s heartbreaking. </3

    • Heather says...

      Yes to this. We really don’t have the right language or customs in our culture for responding to perinatal. It can be such a lonely grieving process. Every year on the anniversary of my son’s death (he was born before 20 weeks, too) a friend of mine leaves a shiny stone or some flowers on his grave (the cemetery is walking distance from our house). It means so much to me, that she takes that loss for me so seriously.

    • Emily says...

      I’m also an Emily, and today is my due date for my baby boy who I delivered at 20 weeks in December. His heart had stopped a few days earlier. I’m so sorry about your son.

    • Heather says...

      @Emily – Big hug. The due date is a hard day. Another big hug.

  134. Kaitlyn S says...

    So timely. About a month ago my grandmother died. I had just come back from being in California to take the bar exam, preparing to move from upstate New York – where my whole family lives – to San Francisco. My family didn’t tell me that she had gotten the flu while I was away because they didn’t want to ruin my exam with worry. She died two days after I returned. Sometimes I think she was letting me go, and knew that I felt immense guilt over leaving her.

    I was able to be with her when she passed – as did most of her children, my aunts and uncle – and my sister and cousins, and what I found was that while we were with her most of us went through the mourning process during that evening. By the time she passed (about 12 hours after we got the call that it was time), we were at peace, and so was she.

    Some things still make me sad; I’ll think of things that I want to share with her, and I still struggle to drive past the nursing home where she lived. But in the end, she was ready to pass on. She was religious, though I am not, but her belief was that she was joining my grandfather and her family in heaven, and I hope that’s true.

    We’re having her memorial ceremony this weekend; she was cremated and we wanted to allow family members and friends from around the country to travel to celebrate her life with us, so we put it off until now. I plan to open a bottle of sweet wine (her favorite) and be with family and friends without succumbing to the pressure to “look” like a mourner. I miss her, of course, but her legacy is us – her family – and as long as we are together, she won’t be forgotten.

    • Genna says...

      I’ve come to this post over a year later as I have just lost my beloved grandmother unexpectedly. This comment has brought me to tears. You are so right- as long as we are together, she is here.
      I hope you and your family have since found some sort of peace.

  135. Michelle says...

    My grandparents had been married for 72yrs, together for 75. When my grandfather passed of old age it literally broke my grandmother’s heart and she soon followed. Losing them both in such quick succession broke my heart, but the other night I had the most vivid dream where I was visiting with them both and sat talking to them in their old lounge. It was so real that when I woke up it felt like I had really been with them and it made me feel so happy.

  136. Samantha says...

    Posts like these give me hope that maybe the world isn’t all bad, and there are still humans out there who care about other humans.

  137. Thank you for sharing these (I cried at the end). When my dad died at the young age of 53 (my brother is now older than the age our dad reached and I am knocking on the door of 50), someone wise said to me, “You’ll never get over it, you’ll just be better at it.” And that, for me, sums up grief. There’s no time limit on how long someone should grieve and we would all do well to remember that.

  138. Katherine says...

    These are lovely and so helpful, thank you. Grief to me is like an ocean: some days it feels like waves that are 10ft high, so savage that they wreck my soul; other days, it feels calm and smooth, like something I can easily navigate or live beside. I wish our culture could talk more openly about grief and be accepting of the feelings of others, even if they don’t mirror our own. There is no one right way to grieve, and these thoughtful comments are a beautiful reminder of that.

  139. Sasha says...

    When Jews visit graves, they place stones instead of flowers. Varied teachings exist about why, but the most common one is that stones are permanent and do not die like flowers do. I haven’t experienced much grief in my life or known many people who have (a blessing of youth, maybe?). However, I’ve thought that it’d be thoughtful to find a nice stone/gem and give it to a friend who may have lost someone, as something they can keep in their house, in their pocket maybe, dresser, bedstand, etc. A small way to remember, and one that will last (versus a plant).

    On the flip side, I’ve also given a stone to a friend experiencing infertility, and said this stone took ages to make and effort to unearth, but it was worth it, implying not everything is easy and sometimes the journey is hard. My friend said she often took her dog for long walks and would rub the stone in her coat pocket, which gave her strength and faith through their decisions.

  140. Caroline says...

    In Zadie Smith’s new essay collection, she quotes Julian Barnes (who is in turn quoting a friend): “It hurts just as much as it is worth.”

  141. I lost my first husband 11 years ago. He was 27 and I was 26. It was sudden and my world was turned upside down. I was scared and the more sad than I knew was possible. The only thing that got me through that time were friends and family. Before that I felt I never needed anyone’s help and cherished my “me time”. Then suddenly I couldn’t bear to be alone. Anytime I could feel that someone was about to say goodbye I would have a panic attack. Even with people around I would have them. My brother and best friend made sure someone was with me around the clock until one day I could get through the day on my own. I also made a slew of new friends… people who knew my husband and just wanted to be there for me. I said yes to everything. The void was real. I look back on that summer of grief and can’t believe I made it through. But am also extremely thankful to know that I am surrounded by people who love and care about me.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Sonia.

      Do you know about Hot Young Widows Club? It’s on facebook and instagram and is a community of widows/widowers.

      One of the founders is Nora McInerny (host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking – which I absolutely adore).

  142. Hannah says...

    #cupofjodeskcry

    • Hannah says...

      Totally thought of this hashtag reading this… it’s SO real.

    • Lucy says...

      Yes! This is a thing!

    • gawd, right?! i’m pretending to have the sniffles right now.

  143. Jen says...

    It’s been nearly 8 years since losing my dad. Yesterday, I had a good cry. What timing! Indeed, there is no time limit on grief. Once I understood that, I could feel freely and miss him and all the lost opportunities without shame. Thanks, CoJ :)

  144. Amber says...

    Wow.

    Thank you.

  145. These are beautiful. They’re important to me even when I’m not technically grieving the loss of someone but feeling a tremendous sense of loss of something.

  146. Liz says...

    Anya’s comment reminded of the post to which her name was linked. The idea that someone who is worth loving is worth grieving has helped me accept my grief. I’m lucky to not have experienced much loss in my life, and the one that still hits me the most is the death of my beloved dog. I still miss him when I go home because our relationship was special and he is worth missing.

  147. Arielle says...

    My mother passed away just over three years ago, when I was 24. Every day I am honestly still surprised by it anew, and at least twice a week I pick up the phone to call her. One of the hardest parts has been feeling like it makes other people uncomfortable to talk about her because they don’t know what to say. I find it so wonderful when people mention her or bring her up in conversation- her absence is so painful, but it hurts more to feel like she was never here in the first place.

    Her mother passed away when she was 23, and she always impressed upon me the importance of reaching out to people that lost a loved one, no matter what the relationship to them was, and not expect any response. When a high school acquaintance’s father passed away years ago she basically forced me to write him a note. Since she died I completely understand how much this means- I will never forget the people that showed up or wrote me, ESPECIALLY the ones that I knew less. Having people that barely knew my mother, but appreciated how special she was, reach out to me made me feel like they understood that the world had lost a wonderful and important person.

    Another important thing is that I think often people want to be sensitive to the needs of grieving family members, and are afraid of intruding or violating some boundaries. This, at least in my case, was not the best thing for my family. We were all in shock, especially my wonderful father, and I wish so badly that someone else had stepped in and made me go to therapy at the time. Even back then I knew that I should, but figuring out the logistics of finding someone who would take my insurance and was accepting patients, making an appointment, and actually getting myself there was way too much at the time. One of the biggest gifts someone could have given me would have been taking my insurance information and just doing it for me. I’ve just gotten around to doing it for myself three years later, and I really feel for my lonely, lost, 24 year old self.

    • C says...

      Sending you, both of you, the brave 27 year old, and the sweet lonely 24 year old, the biggest hug. Good job in reaching out to find help now. It’s never too late to find healing.

  148. Audrey Johnson says...

    All wonderful advice that is very true. Thank you so much for sharing these. Comforting words are such a gift.

  149. LMC1971 says...

    I’m writing from Toronto ON Canada, yesterday we lost 10 beautiful souls because of one wretched disturbed man. We hurt and mourn for those affected families. We could use your prayers and good thoughts as we heal.
    Lisa
    xo

    • Amber says...

      Sending all the love to you.

    • So very sorry this tragic event happened in your wonderful city. We hurt with you and send love from the US. <3

    • Hayley says...

      I live 2 minutes from where it happened, and my husband works overlooking where it happened. It’s been a rough couple of days.

    • Irene says...

      I live in Toronto as well and find myself grieving for those who have died, those who are suffering and those who are barely coping. It’s tragic beyond words. Tell your family and friends you love them, show others compassion and make the most of each moment. I am sending love and light and positive energy to all of us. Grief is unversal. Love is universal.