5 Lies You Were Told About Grief.

“What if we never ‘get over’ certain deaths, or our childhoods? What if the idea that we should have by now, or will, is a great palace lie? What if we’re not supposed to? What if it takes a life time…?”
~ Anne Lamott
It isn’t true that you have to get over it. It isn’t even true that you have to want to. No one else can understand what you have lost. No one else can bear the burden of your tribute to a love, to a life, to an identity now gone. What a privilege it is to feel deeply.

Something happens when you entwine your fate with someone else’s. If they go somewhere you cannot follow, part of you goes with them, and it is like birthing a baby who comes out of you: still and limp.

You are helpless as you watch the labor of your deepest love, your most sacred creation disappear under the dirt without you.

You want to hold it in your arms and join it in a sleep that never ends. You want to claw at the boundary of the earth between the two of you with your fingernails, but someone grabs you and pulls you away, and all you can do is wail.

You become hollow. You are missing a chunk of yourself, and no one can really see it once you put on your creamy lipstick and your designer dress, and you pluck your eyebrows and paint your fingernails and toenails to match. No. No one can see what you are missing; you look so well put together.

“The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see — the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me… our souls contained more scar tissue than life.” ~ Katie McGarry

Maybe your closest friends think you are lonely, but it is worse than that: you have lost the part of yourself that you loved most. The last period has been stamped onto the page, and yet somehow you were left behind, running your fingertips over a leather bound cover slammed shut.

You are a character in a story that is over, and since this never happens in the fairy tales you were fed in your most formative years, you are lost. You no longer fit in the world, and there is no star that can grant your truest wish.

And yet there is hope, but it is not the hope you want. Your sadness becomes all you have left and you begin to cherish it, to worship at its feet so you never forget the most important thing that ever happened to you.

You hold it in your body and you feed it all your love, all your light, so that it stays, so that you can be closer to death. It will never sneak up on you again, because it never leaves your doorstep.

And they will tell you that you’re expected at the office by nine. They will recommend that you still go to church. They will expect you still to celebrate at birthdays, and pretend it doesn’t pain you when you must change your grocery list. No, you mustn’t cry when you have to put back the soy milk because the only one who drinks it is gone.

Well-meaning friends and family will repeat the lies repeated to them in their hours of need, but they will not reveal the truth. They will not tell you how angry they were when this trite advice was handed down to them, how they took it with a joyless, tight-lipped smile, and an insincere “thank you,” just as you will do.

They know no other way. There were things they valued more than their grief: unsmudged eyeliner, making their friends feel comfortable, staying unemotional at work.

Their platitudes won’t help you at all, but you’ll hear them so often from so many directions that you will begin to wonder why you can’t heed them. Instead of realizing the obvious truth: that the advice is terribly flawed, your conditioning will tell you that it is you who are flawed, adding the burden of guilt to a heart already gasping for air.

There are many lists of trite advice you can read about grief, but they will only add to your confusion about why you can’t seem to sync your feelings with the grief map sanctioned by your culture.

This map is supposed to tell you what is normal, but that map was not made for you. It was made to keep the engine of our cultural machine running. It requires your numbness. Refuse, my friend. Refuse with all your might to be numb.

I have no trite advice for you. I have nothing prolific to say. I’m not going to tell you to get therapy or accept how life has changed. I offer you this in the spirit of “you-are-not-aloneness” and “there-is-no-scheduledom.” I give this freely from a place of “I-don’t-know-how-you-feel-but-I-sure-as-shit-know-what-it’s-like-to-be-devestatedism,” and “This-is-how-I-feltity.”

Can anybody hear me?

1. The Lie: You should be over it/him/her by now.

The Truth: No one has the authority to tell you how you should feel, when you should feel it or for how long. Do you hear me? There is no normal when it comes to grief. There is no quantifiable estimate of how much value who and what you have lost has added to your life or for how long you should be sad about that loss. You are not a machine. Numbers: days, weeks, months, years are meaningless.

Death and aliveness are inextricably linked. You may stop weeping (or not), but you will never forget the love, the adventure, the grandiosity of the effect that your beloved lost has made upon your life, and your character. In this way, death will guide you for the rest of your days.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly — that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ~ Anne Lamott

Your life has changed forever. The touch of death is a part of you now, woven into the tapestry of your new and unfolding experience.

2. The Lie: You should stop talking about him or her / Stop living in the past.

The Truth: The only people who cannot bear to hear you speak of your beloved are those who cannot accept their own mortality. They are people who have never grieved. They either don’t know loss, or they buried themselves with their loved ones. Trust me when I tell you, they have their own mountains yet to climb.

Those who would have you silence yourself, choke on the words that you must speak, are people who do not know their own souls.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare

I’m not a psychologist. I’m a writer, so you must know by now that I am having a love affair with words. I know how to make them sharp and pointy. I know how to make them sing like music. And most importantly, I know that they keep me connected to everything beautiful in this world, and the next.

Speaking of your loved one can keep their presence with you from far across the boundaries of the point where life meets death. It is a way to honor them, and a way to honor your feelings. It keeps their love alive in you. It extends the meaning of their life into the world in powerful and meaningful ways. It gives them back a voice in a world hell-bent on forgetting.

It’s okay to speak of them, to them, and even for them when there is good that can be done by you because they have lived. What better way to honor a life, than to extend this love to others?

3. The Lie: You have to move on with your life (right now).

The Truth: This advice is an act of violence against a grieving heart. It is a kick in the ribs while you lie hopelessly seized by despair. Whatever it is your loved one would want, it is unlikely that he or she would want an avalanche of guilt entombing you with your grief. You have enough to climb out of, enough rebuilding to do.

In many ways you are restarting your life from scratch, especially if your beloved lost was the central pin you’d built your life around. For many of us, there is no life to get on with; the lives we were living are irretrievable.

We must begin again, and we don’t want to begin our new lives on a foundation of unacknowledged, disrespected grief.

Being with your grief may require you to sit amongst the rubble. You may have to watch a city crumble. You may have to let go of who you thought you were, in order to make meaning out of the meaningless tragedy of death. Someday you will rebuild this city, but it will be new, updated, your tastes will have changed, you will be more wholly yourself and your kingdom will reflect that.

4. The Lie: You could have prevented this tragedy.

The Truth: If your loved one passed in a sudden or unexpected way, somewhere inside you is a voice asking what you might have done differently that would have changed the course of events that led to the death of your beloved lost.

The truth is that the factors that influence the course of our lives are bigger and more mysterious than what we did and did not do. To hold yourself accountable for any reason is to deny the greater context in which life happens, and that is a dangerous choice to make, because it will eat a hole in your spirit that you can never fill without asking much scarier questions. Bigger questions.

How will I live with this loss? Will I survive this sadness? Will I ever love again? Who am I now? In what manner will I go on? How do I want to spend what’s left of my life? How can I honor my loved one’s life? And death? Is there more? What is the meaning of living? How can I find fulfillment now?

Why the fuck am I here?

“Watch the ones whose only option left is to lean into the questions. The ones who are uninhibited by the unknown because they’ve jumped into that gaping hole and found themselves, by grace, unswallowable. Watch the ones who willingly stand with Feist and say, “I feel it all” even when it scares the shit out of them. It’s not brave to have answers.”

 

~ Mandy Steward

Girl in the Rain by Autumn Ann

Girl in the Rain by Autumn Ann

5. The Lie: Time heals all wounds.

The Truth: The truth is there are losses you never get over. They break you to pieces and you can never go back to the original shape you once were, and so you will grieve your own death with that of your beloved lost.

Your grief is your love, turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds.

Grief teaches us about who we are, and any attempt to crush it, to bury it with the body is an act of vengeance against your own nature.

If everyone felt, honored, respected and trusted their true feelings, this world would be a different place. Instead of reacting, we would respond. Instead of judging, we would see ourselves in everyone. Instead of consuming, we would notice that we cannot fill the gaping wounds inside of us with trinkets.

If instead of pretending we are okay, we would take the time to wail, to weep, to scream, to wander the woods day after day holding hands with our sadness, loving it into remission so it doesn’t turn cold inside of us, gripping us intermittently in the icy fingers of depression. That’s not what grief is meant to do.

Grief has a way of showing you just how deep your aliveness goes. It’s a dagger shoved down your throat, its handle bulging like an Adam’s apple protruding from your neck, edges pressed against both lungs, creating a long, slow bleed in your chest that rolls down the edges of your life, and you get to handle that any fucking way you want.

If you have been sitting on old grief from your childhood, your failed relationships, the loss of a family pet when you were nine, and any other losses you were unable to honor in the past, this left-over grief will also come through the broken damn. Let it.

“Grief does not change you… It reveals you.” ~ John Green

And herein lies the gift that cannot die. It changes the course of your life forever. If you allow yourself the chance to feel it for as long as you need to — even if it is for the rest of your life — you will be guided by it. You will become someone it would have been impossible for you to be, and in this way your loved one lives on, in you.

 

 *****

{No one can tell you how}

 

 

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Alison Nappi

Alison Nappi

Writer, Catalyst, Coach at Write with Spirit
Alison Nappi is an esoteric writing coach, writer, seminar leader and founder of Write with Spirit. She has earned her B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in communication. With professional experience as a ghost writer, copy writer, editor and proofreader, Alison is well equipped for living the creative life. Like Alison on Facebook or send an email to be added to her mailing list. Learn more or get coaching on Alison's website: Write with Spirit.

329 Comments

  • Anna commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    This is so beautiful, and true. Thank you for voicing what I thought had no words.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Thank you, for meeting me with an open heart.
      • Jhone commented on February 11, 2014 Reply
        I don’t even know how to thank you for this. I lost my husband a year and a half ago to melanoma, suddenly, or rather, a collapse and then 40 days of hell. You nailed it. You got it. Every book I have read, every essay I have devoured, doesn’t come close to this. It’s as if you reached into my head and heart and made it …real. I burst into tears halfway through and I am not done crying yet but I am very very grateful to be understood. Thank you.
        • Linda commented on June 28, 2014 Reply
          I totally agree. I’ve read plenty of books and articles about grief and no one has nailed it quite like this.
          • sg commented on September 18, 2014
            I agree. I have been missing my mom, and nothing has come close to describing how I feel until this.
        • mark commented on April 27, 2015 Reply
          im not very good at reading but i get by ive been badly breaved from losing my dad im 45 when i lost dad lived with him all my life was his full time carea and thank you the words are so correct and true mark
    • mugsydean commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      I often sometimes don’t know what to say to someone feeling extreme grief. Usually feels to me that an empathetic look and a hug is the best thing to say. Just found this wonderful animated video that underscores this sentiment. Sending some hugs your way from LA.
      • mugsydean commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
        Almost forgot the link… you may have seen this animated video on empathy. If not please enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw
        • Ellen commented on September 2, 2014 Reply
          great short!
      • Elizabeth commented on November 16, 2014 Reply
        I don’t know that there is anything to say to make someone feeling extreme grief feel better. Hugs definitely do help!
    • Pamela Carder commented on March 13, 2014 Reply
      This is the most depressing thing I have read in quite a while.
      • Cat commented on August 25, 2015 Reply
        Pamela, Your comment says sooo much about you. I am sorry for you. Ms. Nappi’s article is full of genuine empathy. Her words beautifully validated my grief. I felt the tailspin of my experience slow and I smiled…it was beautiful. Alison, thank you.
    • Sandy commented on August 5, 2015 Reply
      This is one of the most honest articles on grief I have ever read. It touched me so deeply. I want people I know to read this so they can maybe have a peek at what I have been going through for the last 4 1/2 years since I lost my son. Thank You for writing this and thank you for posting. You have given a voice to what so many of us feel.
  • Mariann Martland commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Oh yes. Every single word. Truth. Beauty.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      If we cannot share our truths, what hope is there for any of us? I am so happy to meet you here, out in the place where truth and beauty nest. Thank you.
      • Mariann Martland commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
        I am learning to share my truths each day…it is a truth I am not accustomed to sharing but it is teaching me how, little by little. It is wonderful to connect with you too xx
  • Tracy Wisneski
    Tracy Wisneski commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    So incredibly powerful and incredibly generous of you to share it.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Thank you, big-love. You’re always there with your virtual red pen and the words that give me the courage at that moment before my article comes out when I’m doubting my sanity for setting it free.
  • Victoria Erickson commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Absolutely stunning.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      {Holds up mirror.} I know, right?!
      • Denise commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
        Ms. Nappi, I was in awe of your insight and also your skill as a writer putting into words what so many have lived through, and still experience daily!
  • Once You Know... commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    True, true, true. But not just when they die…also when they leave you. The grief is just as real and just as big.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Yes, grief tinges us with any loss. May we always honor our experiences by letting them deepen us.
    • Donna commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
      a fucking men to that.
    • Debra Alewine commented on December 26, 2013 Reply
      Leaving you will never be the same as death. Death has no returns, no makeups, no choices. Death is final. No comparisons please.
      • Jen commented on December 31, 2013 Reply
        I respectfully have to disagree with you. I have lost a few key people to death and I also am living through my 19 year relationship ending. While they are not identical, they are very similar. A loss is a certain type of death. And if you don’t agree with that, it is your right. I take umbrage with your blanket statement that the two are not the same. Just because you feel that way doesn’t mean that you should trivialize someone else’s feelings. Which was what a lot of this essay was about.
        • Silvia Postill commented on January 8, 2014 Reply
          I agree with you Jen..not identical,but very similar..in fact when someone dies,you know they shall never return,but when someone leaves,or just disappears from your life,that can be equally devastating..talking from experience.
        • Jennifer Roberts commented on January 11, 2014 Reply
          I agree with you, Jen. I have had 2 great losses in my life–one was the death of a parent and one was the relinquishment of a child via adoption. Both were devastating and the adoption had a much more crippling effect for far longer. The one we lose does not necessarily have to be deceased.
          • madi commented on December 5, 2014
            Jennifer, I relinquished my daughter as well. My mom died exactly one year later. I was only 19 when my mom died, and I still see my daughter monthly . Right now for me losing my mom is harder because I don’t know she’s ok.. Both are so so hard.
      • Phillip Shurtleff Politics Page commented on January 5, 2014 Reply
        I’ll agree with Jen. Divorce can actually be worse. The dead are gone, usually, against their will. Their love for you was intact to the end. But divorce, particularly a bitter one, they’re still alive but have rejected your love. That can be much more painful.
        • Dark shadows for eyes commented on February 8, 2014 Reply
          No. Death of your child is the worse loss. I have lost loved ones, been divorced, and THOUGHT I knew pain until my 18 yr old son took his own life. Leaving behind two young brothers, four and nine. I thought I knew pain. I thought I knew loss, but I was wrong. I hope that no one is wronged in this manner, it is gut wrenching and soul ripping that never leaves you. Divorce, someone leaving, child’s play. A revelation I hope none have to endure. Yes, everyone is entitled but they can still be wrong. An illness, an accident, that can be seen as against the will and even embraced….but suicide of your child, unconceivable. Not a suicide of a troubled teen, one you could even sense way a gladly welcomed ending……but the death of a brilliant, wildly talented, kind, caring soul. Full scholarship to a leading medical school to become someone to really make a difference in this crazy world, lost. I hope that this pain, for a lack of a more appropriate word does not exist, is NEVER endured or felt by any that think they have felt loss.
          • Twila commented on July 25, 2014
            My heart goes out to you Dark Shadows… I also lost my son at 19… in a drowning accident 2 years ago..to save a friend I am told…but the choice of death is something I do not think I could bear… the whys…xoxo
          • Cathy commented on February 8, 2015
            Suicide of a child is one of the worst types of death – no parent should have to bury their children. It casts one in a shadow of grief, people avoid you, say ghastly things and then expect you to get over it 24/7 -you never get over it, it shatters your life His name is never uttered, it’s as if he never existed ! Have lost 2 children a baby girl (died illness after 10 days) and a son of 28 to suicide -my days are hell on earth, I long for release my pain overwhelms me. Only those who walk this road of grief can understand. God help us stay strong.
          • BVallillee commented on April 13, 2015
            I am so terribly sorry. That is all I can say. Your pain is unfathomable.
          • Rita commented on June 25, 2015
            No grief compares to the loss of a child. My only daughter died in an accident at age 26. The life altering torment caused by the loss of my daughter cannot even be put in the same category as grief. I have many bases of comparison. When I was 24, I lost my fiance in an accident shortly before our wedding. I wanted to die, but the pain gradually abated, and I eventually healed completely. I’ve lost both my parents. I’ve lost good friends to death. I’ve gone through a divorce after 30 years of marriage. Believe me, nothing even comes close to the persistent, torturous pain of losing a child. Life is surreal, the universe feels wrong, and the intense longing to be with my daughter never lessens. My mind is incapable of processing and accepting this horrible, unspeakable tragedy. People who haven’t lost a child cannot understand.
        • Jill commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
          Have your child die and never get the chance to say goodbye ….don’t ever compare it to a divorce!!!!!!! I have had both. Absolutely zero comparison !!!!!! What an insult
          • Amanda commented on April 2, 2014
            Divorce is definitely a different kind of grief, and someone who has never lost someone (child, parent, family, friend, etc.) would never know how much more painful death is than the most painful divorce. It seems insulting to compare anyone’s experience with grief, but it is disrespectful to assume that someone’s pain is worse than someone else’s for whatever reason… My dad passed away a month and a half ago. I am young– I am not married, I have no children, and I feel robbed of my time to get to know my father as an adult and develop a new, amazing relationship with him. I feel like my pain is worse than someone who loses their parent of old age. I am judging on my own scale; my intention is not to be disrespectful to those who lose loved ones, because it is painful under any circumstances. However, missing my dad for such “big” moments in life leaves a void that no one, and nothing else, can fill. I do not mean to invalidate someone who may have spent more time with their father, but really… it does invalidate whatever their emotion is. I have never been divorced, but I have had my heart bitterly and painfully broken as an adult, have had life-threatening circumstances, and I can comfortably say that there has been no pain worse than losing my father.
          • Aaron commented on April 2, 2014
            I’m sorry the last couple replies feel this way. I think the takeaway for me was that assumptions are a bit dangerous and a bit of empathy goes a long way. I don’t think everyone will experience death and divorce in the same way and the true “insult” is in our own inability to think outside our own minds and experiences.
          • Katie commented on April 10, 2014
            I don’t think this needs to be a contest.
          • Brenda commented on May 6, 2014
            You are so right. I too have buried a child, 13 years ago and I will never get over it. People don’t know what they don’t know, hope they never have to!
          • Nadja commented on April 10, 2015
            Amanda (below) said this beautifully “It seems insulting to compare anyone’s experience with grief, but it is disrespectful to assume that someone’s pain is worse than someone else’s for whatever reason”. Amen to that! Somebody else down here mentioned that empathy goes a long way instead of trying to come to a conclusion of which type of loss is worse. Jill, please don’t feel insulted. I lost my cat 3 weeks ago to lymphoma and although I don’t know what it feels like to lose a human child I do know that what I’m feeling right now sucks!!! It’s heart wrenching, it’s physically and emotionally painful. The fact that you think that the feeling of going through a divorce or losing a companion animal is not too painful comparing to the loss of a child, doesn’t make my pain or the pain of someone going through a divorce less painful. We need to support one another regardless of the source of the pain is. This has been very challenging for me because I feel I can’t grief openly because I lost “just a cat”. Feeling sorrow and despair is awful, so instead of feeling insulted let’s extend a helping hand to one another.
      • Georganne commented on February 10, 2015 Reply
        While one certainly can grieve over a marriage that ended in divorce as well as one that ended in death, there are very few similarities. I did not decide to live the rest of my life alone. I did not decide to raise my children alone. My husband did not decide to not be there to teach his son how to build things or work on cars. He did not decide to not be here to walk his daughter down the aisle when the time came. Divorce is about choice, death is not. So while there is grieving in both, please make no other comparisons.
    • cherry commented on April 15, 2015 Reply
      Being left is real grief. I can feel in the writings sometimes it refers more to that type of lose. I have suffered abandonment, divorce and death of siblings and parents and all of this loss is grief. I just recently loss my child and from my personal feelings grief is such a little thing in comparison. The words have yet to be written that can describe what I feel. It’s like when you have the breath knocked out of you only it’s the breath knocked out of your soul. So many say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger well this is a lie. Losing my child has weakened me forever But yes Alison is has deepened me. Depth used to measure a hole, but it’s not even a hole it’s a rip in my heart that reached to my soul. If the soul can bleed this must be what that feels like.Don’t be dead, don’t be dead my tears beg as they spill through my souls to my eyes.So many of your words reached me on a level nothing else has ~thank you~
      • Joanne commented on April 16, 2015 Reply
        Thank you Cherry for your soul words, I feel exactly the same! I lost my Daughter Megan 15months ago, she is forever 16. I try to write this with all of my compassion…..I feel there are different depths of Grief and Loss. For me now NOTHING else can touch ME, which I find immensely difficult to understand…..Loosing your child goes against the order of life, and now anything is possible. I am forever changed…..into what I am still discovering.
  • Deborah commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Bravo! Finally, the truth. This is AMAZING!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Thank you, Deborah. By speaking out about the myths under which we are living it is my heart’s prayer that others will find relief from the burden of blame.
      • Hannah Konnoff commented on January 11, 2014 Reply
        The thing that people kept telling my when my husband of 12 years killed himself was that I should not bury my feelings, but I think that’s another myth, that you should never bury your feelings. It took about ten years for me to get to a point in my life where I could really deal with my feelings. I believe I would have literally died if I didn’t bury them deep and only deal with them in small chunks over many years.
        • sarah munson commented on November 11, 2014 Reply
          Wow, i have yet to meet someone with my story until you. My husband of 10 years killed himself 3 months and a day ago and i feel as if im on a precipice overlooking an abyss that wants to swallow me whole, i can hear it bid me jump but i fight because we have a nine year old litle boy that needs his mommy. I know that if I don’t shove some of these feelings down deep i will jump eventually.
      • Maria commented on June 27, 2014 Reply
        OMG I feel like you read the inside of my soul. I just lost my mom who was my best friend, my secret keeper and my heart. As the only child of a single mother I left work and took care of her when she got sick and watched her, this strong beautiful woman just whither away with dimentia, which was a horror for both of us. To watch someone who is a PART of you die in your arms is like getting shot right at that very moment. You can’t do anything to save the amazing life force that she was. All you can do is watch the the color drain from the face you love more than life itself. You want to know why she wouldn’t take you with her like the rest of our lives when we were always together. I’ve been grieving for 5 months now and I still cry myself to sleep, and when I wake up to her not being here. Just to know that I will NEVER hear her voice, or kiss her, or laugh with her, or celebrate holidays with her, or hug her when we both needed it, or lay that cool cloth on her forehead for her last 17 days when I didn’t know what else to do for her just makes me sick inside. I feel like she took my insides with her and all that’s left is a shell of who I was. I will NEVER be the same and I don’t know who I see when I look at myself. Without her I am unrecognizale.
        • Sue z q I m commented on July 14, 2014 Reply
          Wow….. I remember feeling that way when I list my mother after a lengthy illness. I heard her voice one Mother’s Day when I was sad and miserable missing my bother….. My husband was annoyed with me because by god it had been 5 years and besides I am a mother and how I was “behaving” was not right for my children…… Later that day while spending some quiet time by the waters edge, I heard my mothers voice…….she gave me a push…..which I,literally felt and told me to “stop this nonsense” she wanted me to celebrate her life, not dwell in what I no longer had…… I felt a weight lift from my shoulders and a warmth pass through my heart. When I think of my mom today, it is almost always with a smile….. I feel her presence…… She nudges me often….guides me with her voice…… So when you can be less sad, you will realize that you are full of memories of you mom, and you carry them in your heart every minute of every day……she would want you to be happy when you think of her instead of thinking about not having her…..because in fact, you have her deeply ingrained in your heart and soul for eternity….. Stay strong…..rely on your higher power…..and know to watch and listen for the signs that your mom is near, and is guiding you….
      • spiritbear commented on September 24, 2014 Reply
        I think you are full of shit. Life must go on you can not stop living because someone you love dies. You are telling the weak to stop living which is so wrong is so many ways. I bet you make a good living spewing this shit. we will all meet our loved ones in Heaven so get on with you fen lives people.
        • Vinnie commented on April 8, 2015 Reply
          You obviously never loved then.
        • Ado commented on April 23, 2015 Reply
          To Spiritbear, You smug arrogant fool. It must be nice to be so certain of yourself. You are exactly the type of moron the author is talking about. The one who wants to tell eveyone else how to live their lives. Even how they’re supposed to grieve the loss of perhaps the most important person in their lives. Here’s a suggestion, shut up and keep your opinions to yourself. Mind your own business and stay out of others’ lives. As the author says about ones grief, “You get to handle that any fucking way you want”. And it’s none of your business how I choose to do that. No one here is telling anyone how to deal with their grief, except you. And no one is telling the “weak” how to deal with their grief except you. Just referring to others as “weak” is shameful and tells volumes about yourself. One last thing…. if you have any definitive proof of heaven please forward it to the rest of us. Ado
  • goodfunnytrue commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Magnificent. I am breathless. Yes. Pain is commensurate with the love we feel. Deeply grateful to have found this.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Deeply grateful for the experience, for the deepening, for the capacity to share space in the holy dark with open and unapologetic hearts being true, as hears have a way doing.
  • Carmen commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for your words…three months later…I thought no one understood.
  • Beatriz commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Yes. A thousand times yes. To everything!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      It’s that kind of ecstatic embrace that makes life miraculous.
  • Julie commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Oh, my heart… Thank you. I lost my 14 month old son to SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) in February and it has been such a painful, slippery journey with very little validation or guidance, both of which you have provided here. Bonus points for wordsmithery and fucks both written and not given. From one scarred heart to another, again, thank you.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We all feel so alone with our grief after the initial rituals are completed and everyone else seems to have gone back to their ordinary lives. This time with your grief is so holy, so sacred. I want to acknowledge your courage and your strength. I want you to know that you are not alone. And I want you to know that on the days where even the simple act of drawing breath hurts so much you feel like you might die, that same aching, open, courageous heart will find new ways to go on everyday. But you already know that. because here you are, with all of us, heart-to-blazing-heart. Thank you.
      • cdmccomas commented on April 16, 2014 Reply
        <3 <3 <3 Much gratitude to you – one of the best I've read on loss. You shed light and offer validations which are so often missing, especially to parents who have lost children and sometimes feel they must struggle clandestinely. Please become aware of our loss and resulting path still unfolding. https://www.facebook.com/GraceMcComasMemorial
        • Carolyn f jurgens commented on July 12, 2015 Reply
          Grace, it is so true, your phrase “struggle clandestinely” … especially if a child was stillborn. People allow you xyz per days on earth… and a small window of course if the child died before breathing. And I do feel it has to be clandestine and that creates more struggle.thank you.
    • Patricia Finnegan commented on January 1, 2014 Reply
      Julie, my heart goes out to you. I also lost my son, though he lived to be a young man. It is almost to the five-year anniversary now, and I can tell you absolutely that there is truth in Alison Nappi’s words. There is no “getting over it”; this will never happen. We bereaved parents have to create a new planet, each for ourselves, a new ecosystem that resembles the earth we previously inhabited, but that does not contain the living presence of our beloved child. So much happens in that process, and I now believe it will take a lifetime to complete. I’ve only been able to find one book for bereaved parents that made any sense to me, and, if I may, I’d like to recommend it to you. (Alison, please feel free to suspend this comment or whatever else you need to do until you can check this out find yourself, if you find it necessary.) The book is called “When the Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter”, and is written by a researcher who lost her beloved son and then,to help herself in her grief-process, decided to interview bereaved parents and compile her findings into this book. It has been a source of strength and information to me.
      • Beth Bennett commented on January 12, 2014 Reply
        Such beautiful words! I hope you write, too!
      • Kristin commented on February 12, 2014 Reply
        I lost my son 2 years ago. He was 27 yrs old. There is no getting over it or moving on since it has changed my heart, soul and mind. I am a different person. How can the death of a son or daughter not change you? I have 3 other children and grandchildren. When we get together we all feel the loss but we all keep his memory alive. On his Birthday my grandchildren send balloons up to heaven for him. Your child IS a part of you. There is a sadness in me and such a longing for what will never be.
      • Michele commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
        Patrica Finnegan..Thank You for the book reference.
  • So commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Our son was schizophrenic and when he died, we didn’t even get a phone call from some of the family members. Some were unbelievably nice!!!! I can’t be around the ones who didn’t call.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much for sharing. Some people use avoidance to hide from uncomfortable feelings, but we who grieve don’t have that luxury. How wonderful, though, that others stepped in with open hearts and open arms in a moment of need.
  • val commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    I needed this today. And tomorrow. And every day hereafter. Thank you.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      If reading this article left you feeling even a little less alone, I have answered the call of my heart. Thank you for being here.
    • Robin commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
      So did I.
  • Dee Kilmer commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    YES. This time of year especially makes old wounds raw again, even after almost 5 years.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      Isn’t it amazing how even time, even death itself cannot destroy our love?
      • robin commented on June 10, 2015 Reply
        the death of my 17yr old has brought out love from my sisters that once was so dormant.
  • Rajat Mishra commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Thank you Alison! You have beautifully explained the Truth.The pinching realities are not to be forgotten and thrown out from our minds. Although society teaches just the opposite to maintain its hollow rules. It echoes Rilke’s advice to live with the questions. Pain is not a barren seed. If sown and watered the pain can get transformed into something very unique. Come together and welcome the gardeners!!!
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      How amazing, it is, that even out of the darkest of times, we are eventually able to pluck the diamond?
  • IVM commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so very much for this. I have cried each day since my mom died in March.The well meaning sentiments of friends and family fall on deaf ears . I can’t go to church, I can’t go to certain restaurants. I feel like I cant breathe in certain places. The sadness is like a giant wave holding me down at the bottom of the ocean. I go through the motions , live, work , try and take care of my family. But I will never get over losing the person who loved me more than anyone else ever will.
    • Pam Nix commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
      You have put into words exactly how I feel. I lost my mom in January. Some days it hurts to breathe.
    • sg commented on March 29, 2014 Reply
      I lost my mom 5 months ago. I can really relate to what you said. I miss her terribly.
  • Y commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    Your words rip open my neglected wounds, my heart clawing out of my heaving chest for freedom. My cells ache and scream in my ears, soft tears are the release of knowing, sharing. Parts and whole pieces that resonate. I am alone. I am broken. Isolated and lost. I thank you for your small beacon of light in my blackness, it is not my light but one I can hold for now. 16 months ago my love, my partner, my pillar was brutally taken. I don’t know how to proceed. One moment at a time. Blessings, love, and light
    • Billy commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
      from my broken heart to yours .. xxx
    • r commented on December 22, 2013 Reply
      Y i think i know exactly how you feel, where you are. 17 years with a similar loss. raising 2 kids on my own. tones from a daughter (only 8 months old at the time of her mother’s death) are exactly the same sounds, mannerisms. it’s uncanny and also in a way…heartbreaking on several levels.
  • Moonbeam commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
    I lost a baby in April and this is the first thing I’ve read that touches on how that loss has devastated my entire life. Thank you.
    • Colors commented on March 31, 2014 Reply
      I lost my baby in June. I can’t figure out *how* to “sit in the rubble” even though I know that’s what I need to do. I have two other daughters to care for and I’m struggling increasingly to do that as well as I should. *hug*
  • Ana McLoon commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    I am crying… I dont feel weird anymore for being heartbroken. Maybe i need a paue to sit amongst the rubble before i can stand up and rebuild. Thank you, this was beautiful and very helpful.
  • Tea-mahm commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Good to hear real things about this subject most people are clueless about. Thank you.
  • Michelle S U commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    I thought I’d cried my biggest tears until I read this… It’s been over 3 years since my son, only child, marine, died in Afghanistan at age 18. My heart felt wrung out as I kept reading. Day by day is all I can do. Thank you for validating my core and the best I’ve ever read regarding grief and loss.
    • Mary Anderson commented on January 1, 2014 Reply
      Michelle, I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you and your wonderful son. My son is career Army and has been over there five times in one capacity or another. I cannot imagine the grief you must feeling, plus the pride in your son. As one mother to another, I am holding you in my arms and wishing you peace and love always. All mothers need to band together and try to stop all these horrible wars! Love to you…Mary
  • Jim Fry
    Jim Fry commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Alison, you’ve wondrously, eloquently and exquisitely captured the essence of grief *spectrum* and our individual experiences, which inherently follow no pattern, which lend themselves to no convention or customs, which may not be boxed into particular patterns, nor, may they be appeased or genuinely succored by platitudes. Thank you. Being in the midst of these experiences currently, I’ve learned more about myself in a week, than I have in the last several years.
  • Astates commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    I lost my adored dog 6 years ago. He died at 6 of an inherited condition and I was so angry that I wouldn’t allow myself to think about how angry I was. It was unfair-he was so young. The pain was horrible-my heart was truly broken. But, this is the thing-now I know what to say to people whose hearts have been torn out. I know what not to say. I know, or at least can approximate, how that feels. I will never forget this awful lesson. But I will also never forget that something good came out of his sudden and untimely death. It’s a remarkable gift that I would rather not have. I’d prefer to have my dog back. But I’ll take what I can get.
  • Mk Michaels commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Bravo Alison! Having lost my ex-partner and my children’s other mother in October; your words resonate with deep ferocity. My grief is multiplied by the depths of their grief and in spite of an incredible outpouring of love, support, and kind acts, nothing fixes this. Time is helping, but it merely takes the edge off. In ensuring my children and I have sufficient support and giving us all permission to “handle it any fucking way we want”, we are getting through each new challenge and each new layer as it is revealed. Thank you for a timely and incredibly well written piece!
  • Glenda Watson Hyatt commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Beautifully expressed. Thank you.
  • Mishell commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Three and a half years for me. I talk about the person every day to everyone. It was my mother and yes, she was THAT special. I honor her life by being the absolute best person I can be – to everyone. And keep smiling (through the pain).
    • Donna commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
      That is the best way you can honor her. Think how proud she would be/is. If my son wrote this after my passing, I would be so happy and honored. I send your mom my thanks for raising you so well, leaving us you to improve our world with your smile. Namaste.
  • Mary commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Thank You….
  • Jeanne Greenfield commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Thank you. I lost my husband in March and I have good days and bad days, and a good week and a bad week. I never know what will trigger tears. Sometimes I feel his arms around me and that’s good and bad. Thanksgiving was surprisingly awful. I didn’t know it would hurt so much. Makes me fearful of next week. But I’ve encouraged my children to come to the house, and we’ll all just remember him – talk about him – cry about him – laugh about him – love him and each other. Your words reassure me that it’s ok to grieve – let it happen and embrace it. Thank you and my girlfriend/sister who sent me the link!
  • Cindi Trumbo Thayn commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    I just lost my husband 4 days ago. My feelings are open and raw. I can only take it day by day and sometimes hour to hour. Thank you for these words; I shall come back to reflect on them from time and again
    • katiecoolady commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
      Cindi, I came back here to find your comment again and reply to it. Just know that someone else out here in the world is hearing you and caring about your pain. I’m just holding you in warmth and light out there in the world, wherever you are.
      • Nina commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
        Cindi, me too. You are not alone. Holding a place in my heart for you.
    • Carmen commented on January 3, 2014 Reply
      Cindi you ae in my thoughts…
  • Elaine Clark commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    You are a gifted writer. Your words are your art. Thank you for sharing them.
  • growler commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Shit. Fuck. Yeah. YES. Thank you. A lot.
  • Bea commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    3 days ago was the 1 year anniversary of losing my best friend of 13 years in a sudden & tragic death. On the anniversary, I felt an unexpected sense of relief, &was so excited that it must finally be ending, this grief. I wasn’t sure if like a volcano, at some point the sadness stops erupting & nestles back down into your heart, dormant. The last three days, however, after that brief respite of relief, the sadness has been so cavernous. It was like losing her again. Here I’ve been scolding myself for doing it all wrong- it’s nice just to hear someone say there is no “right”.
  • Marty Tousley @GriefHealing commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Alison, your piece is simply amazing. Several members on our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups site have commented that your words speak to them in a most authentic way. I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting your magnificent piece on our site, complete with all citations, of course. If that is not okay with you, just let me know, and I will take it down immediately. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your writing skills with all of us! (You’ll find us at http://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com)
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      I can’t tell you how happy and grateful I am to hear that you are helping this work get to those who would most benefit. That was my prayer, as I released this labor of love into the world. I deeply appreciate it. Thank you very much!
      • Marty Tousley @GriefHealing commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
        I have shared your piece on Pinterest and on my Facebook page as well, Alison. The response has been truly wonderful. You’ve really struck a chord with this one! Blessings to you ~ and thank you ever so much! ♥
  • Melisa commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    It took me a while to read this… my eyes were filled with tears of happiness. As odd as that may sound to some, I embrace my grief. It is how I survive. It is how my 17 year old son will remain with me forever. Thank you for writing this so that others can understand..
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      Lovely Melissa, I’m so glad that you’re here. Thank you so much for sharing with us this unstoppable and undying love that you share with your son.
      • Melisa commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
        It is a wonderful feeling to know that someone “gets” how and why I feel the way I do. That would be the reason for the tears of happiness. I am sad everyday, as I miss ,my son everyday. And that is ok!! As long as I choose to move forward with my life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating my son into it. Grief is personal, and everyone should be allowed to have their own relationship with it. Thank you again.
      • Chrissy commented on July 12, 2015 Reply
        Thru the loss of my brother dying at 21yrs in a tragic car accident; loosing my first baby at 6mos. pregnant( I felt her life in me every day) and my best friend being murdered, a victim of murder-suicide; I have learned how to grieve much like you say(thank-you for putting it in such meaningful words). Now my 12year-old grandson just lost his daddy suddenly 7mos. ago and and I don’t know how to explain grieving to him. I need words to help him thru. He is at the anger stage and starting the 7th grade soon. Thank-you
  • Snick commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    I appreciate the sentiment, and I suspect that I will be grieving my own loss for a lifetime, but this article has basically allowed a friend of mine to assume it’s okay for her to continue being severely depressed, to the point where she’s going to lose her home and her job if she doesn’t start giving a damn about herself. She’s promoting this like you’ve given her permission to shut off her own life and regress. Maybe this is just a teeny bit irresponsibly worded at times…..no one thinks she should just get over it and move on, but we do expect her to take care of herself. Perhaps you could have struck for some sort of middle ground, here.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
      Hi, Snick. I’m skipping ahead on my replies to answer you first because this sounds quite serious. It sounds to me like your friend has already been on this road of “giving up,” and she needs a great deal more support than she has been given so far. This article has helped a lot of people, and was given with the earnest intent that those who would most benefit from the comfort of knowing they are not alone would find it. At no point did I suggest that giving up and losing ones home, job, or property was what honoring ones grief requires, and will not accept this projection of blame. I know you are afraid for her, and I have compassion for that, but truly, blame is not what is needed here. What is needed is compassion and love for this friend of yours who is so wrought with grief and despair that she clearly feels that ordinary life has lost its meaning. Many of us go through a grief stage like this and benefit from the support of qualified grief counselors and others going through a grieving experience. Perhaps you too would benefit from some extra support. It sounds like your friend needs a great deal of extra love, understanding, and maybe even some financial help while she is finding her way back to life, after death. Perhaps helping arrange for whatever support she needs will alleviate some of your own worry, knowing you are truly doing all you can do to help her.
      • Alison Nappi
        Alison Nappi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
        I also want to add, that I meant everything I said with the utmost of love and respect for your journey and that of your friend. I trust that you will find your way, and I really appreciate you sharing you thoughts.
        • Kate commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
          So, you take responsibility only when your words are helpful. If they are used harmfully, it’s someone else’s problem?
          • Tracy commented on December 20, 2013
            Kate: Grief is the problem their going through. Take some time and read what this article has done for so many grieving people with absolutely heartwrenching loss’. Dont blame author here! A wise person knows the more we know, the less we know! You dont have the answers. This article was meant to help and be understanding. If someones takes it harmfully, you cant save them from that either. Get it! You dont seem to. Oh n what have you written that affected so many people in an amazing way but offended a cold couple? If anyone ever read an article and did themselves harm, its still their choice ALONE! Not yours ever for anyone.
        • Snick commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
          I and many of our friends have supported her, and continue to support her, for many years. See, here it almost sounds like you’re implying we should do more for her, without any knowledge of what we are doing/have done. She has participated in all the conventional methods of grief therapy and counselling. I am not placing blame, merely providing constructive criticism…. An article, especially one like this, should be worded very carefully. Point five is the one I take the most issue with. No, time does not heal all wounds. We don’t ever forget the people we have loved and lost. But sometimes, after the screaming and crying is over and all that remains is an emptiness that leaves you feeling like a shell for over 5 years, pretending to care about *yourself* can be the first step to moving forward. I have the utmost faith that she is not a danger to herself, but I obviously hate to see her go through the motions of life. I am the same, but with the awareness that you’ve got to start somewhere. If I have one good day out of 8, that’s still one good day. But you have to try, whether you mean it or not. That is step one, in my opinion. As you stated, grief manifests itself in a variety of ways, unique to whoever is experiencing it. Every single person has a right to feel their feelings, and to process them in their own way. We can grieve for our entire lifetimes, but at some point, we have to care about ourselves, too. I may see the path that I think she should be on, but I can’t force her to take action. In spite of a desire to get better, obviously, and to feel something, it’s like she’s been absorbed entirely by a defeatist mentality. An article like this really does more harm than good, in her case. As I said, I appreciate this. I commend you for standing up for people who are frequently told to hide their feelings, to get over their pain, to be “normal”, myself included, but I still stand by my earlier statement that parts of this article could have been worded a little more carefully.
          • Tracy commented on December 20, 2013
            Snick: You’re friend is on her absolute Own journey. Nothing you can say, do or believe you think she should , can change her free will. This is your friend’s own mind that you cannot climb into and stop her long going grief. Whatever she chooses to do, deal with it. You will NEVER have the answers or remedies. That scares you because you have handled your grief so much differently. Also, after all these years you truelly think its an article that gives her permission to not care about herself or continue to give. Now your upset over what shes reading too. I lost my absolute best friends and soulmate and not one person will tell me how, when or tell me the obvious( care about yourself again). Whatever your friend or I do have nothing to do with you or anyone’s advice. You will never be able to climb into people’s mind or heart and help them experience or see what you have. Stop trying to judge, save or change anyone. Only God can do that. Please forget your Construccctive criticism and being a know it all. Noone likes that. You guys can not be an empathetic cheering squad standing next to her 24/7 pulling the strings. Point blank!
          • Snick commented on December 21, 2013
            Tracy, thank you. You reiterated a lot of what I said, while trying to disagree with me. I can think I know what’s best for her, but I can’t walk any path for her. Everyone is unique, everyone processes things differently, everyone’s journey is their own, and there is no right or wrong way to do so. Please reread my comments. I don’t think the article has caused her not to care, but when she shared the article, she promoted it that way, herself. I know that at the end of the day, whatever happens is up to her, and I don’t judge her for her choices. You have come across as quite judgmental, on the other hand, making assumptions about myself and the people I speak of. I don’t know your pain, and you don’t know mine. I’m glad the article helped you and many others. It did not help my friend, and all the positive effects do not cancel out the potential for harm. Things aren’t black and white, as I’m sure you know…what helps you will not necessarily help everyone else, and certainly not my friend. Constructive criticism is meant for the *author* of the article, and in my opinion, creative writers should welcome criticism, as it helps to hone their craft and further develop skill. Thank you for your comments. Please take your own advice to heart.
          • Chris commented on April 1, 2015
            I feel a little worried about the implications of the article as well, but I’m glad it’s helped people feel that their pain is seen and felt by others. A loved one of mine has suffered a terrible loss. It’s only been several months, and he is going to counseling and groups, and has some plans for the future. But all these mantras about being a changed person, make it feel like we are strangers now. This “new person” does not keep in touch with his family anymore, who they were very close to, even though we are offering support, love, and space. They don’t want to hear from us, but are still willing to do things with friends. I don’t want to interfere too much, but I’m afraid of losing touch forever or never getting to work out my own anger and grief, leaving an underlying tension with this person for life. I’m also afraid that the person who died (under bad circumstances, betraying their family) is being idealized and anyone who feels differently being cut out. It’s all very sad, and I don’t have any answers. Do therapists encourage people not to talk to their own families? I feel like we’ve lost two people.
    • Carmen commented on January 3, 2014 Reply
      Snick, your opinions can be kept to yourself. You are doing exactly what this article is about…you think you know how to help your friend…it’s simple…you don’t. She should, should, should. Maybe you re dealing with your loss though her, because your words come across as judgemental of your friend and this article.
      • India commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
        We cannot be silent for fear our words might be misused. And in this example, not even directly misused – but perceived as being misused by a friend. The author clearly states she is a writer and not a psychologist. She wrote the truth about her experience of grief and it’s resonated deeply with many women I know and love, particularly those who have lost children. Last summer, I read dozens of first-hand stories of grief written by women who have given birth to stillborn babies or lost their infant children. This as I prepared for a graveside service I was conducting for a baby born still just days before he was due. Every mother said virtually the same thing: no one can tell you what your journey will be, how long, how painful or when you “should” cross the finish line that keeps moving forward by inches and miles. I did not read in this heart-piercing piece anything dangerous or misleading, or anything that says don’t seek help. You learn to live with the new reality, which is with a scarred, battered heart that some people want to say will become shiny and new again. These are life-changing, body-changing, heart-changing losses. At their best, these losses open us to empathy toward the wounds in other hearts. I didn’t read someone being irresponsible with her words. Asking a writer to be “very careful” with words of grief is like muzzling a silent scream. Speaking the truth is letting the scream loose. Finding hope comes not in being shushed or cautioned to use different words, but in speaking from our deepest heartspace: you are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone. Your grief is singular and unique and universal all in the same breath. And by saying “holds mirror” to those who speak with gratitude for this piece and saying “we can’t walk another’s journey” to those who are asking for more carefully chosen words – this is not a failure to take responsibility for the piece. It’s recognizing that as a writer, setting your intention is within your realm of work in the world, but predetermining its reception is not. Her bloodhas clearly been poured into every word. Peace.
        • cdmccomas commented on April 16, 2014 Reply
          Wow. Epic response.
        • Kaay commented on June 29, 2014 Reply
          THIS reply, times a million.
        • Twila commented on July 25, 2014 Reply
          amen! we are each unique in our own bodies and souls… how we respond is accordingly
  • Mikki commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    This article affected me deeply..I wish I would have had it in 2006 when my Brother committed suicide. I have already passed it on to a few other grateful people. Thank You. I believe you hit the nail on the head. The only thing I would like to add is sometimes we get stuck in grief because the stress creates a depleted Body/Biochemistry. I was in a negative space for a long time..until I followed “The Ultramind Solution by Mark Hyman. M.D. I also got a huge understanding of why I was stuck when I read John Gray’s Book “The Mars and Venus diet and exercise solution. This book explains the differences I between men and women’s bio chemistry and depression..Very helpful. don’t want to stay stuck in negativity. I still have a life to live. I am grateful to the people who told me about these books. Maybe it will help someone else. A woman I showed your article to just walked up and thanked me for it as I am writing this. All I can say is “You Rock!” :^)
  • Heidi commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Thank you. Yes, my mother’s sudden death when I was almost 12 has guided me and also served as a source of anger and rebellion and submission to what is irreconcilable and shape shifts. And later when Pat died, we met in a dream. We were sommer-saulting and laughing in a form, a circle, a celtic design that another friend has designed on a t-shirt in commemoration of Pat. When I awoke, I called the designer to find out if the celtic design had a particular meaning and he said yes, it is the symbol of the continuum of life and death. I meet Mom and Pat there and am grateful to you for opening up the space again for me and my friends.
  • Bohart commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    there are no explanations to salve the loss; the tears spontaneously cascade at the most inopportune moments and people think you’re a PTSD wimp over the loss of a Lover/Loving relationship or a living being
    • Donna commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
      Some people don’t feel as deeply as we do. Some do not invest themselves as fully and allow themselves to really feel the fullness of love. Those of us who feel deeply do so in good times and bad. The bad is just about killing me now. The cortisol is eating holes in my arteries. I wake up with headaches. I can’t focus. I try to think of the happy memories, and not the ending. I try to be thankful for the times we had. It’s easier said than done. I am starving for that thing that so fully fed my soul. Crying with you, Bohart. Hugs to you.
  • katiecoolady commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    This is the most profound, honest, bold essay on grief I’ve ever read. And believe me, I’ve read most everything out there having lost my mother when I was 5 and then my sister to homicide, on Christmas 25 years ago when I was 29. It hit me hard again this season, the 25th anniversary of her murder and this is exactly the medicine I’ve been needing. I linked you to my blog as well and quoted an excerpt..hope that’s ok (with all credits). Thank you so much for this. I want to know you.
  • Disappointed. commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    Hold the kudos. What if you are encouraging people to stagnate by dwelling on the past and forego LIVING. The authors credentials are for creative writing not psychotherapy etc. Do not get me wrong, you have written something very emotionally honest and that should be applauded. However, it should have a disclaimer because you write with a tone of authority and have cited no references for the Lies and Truths you put forth. Note: Just read your reply to Snick. I see you don’t take any responsibility for your words and just blame other for projecting onto you. I doubt I will ever forward this article to any of my grieving friends or family now.
    • Tracy commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
      Youre one of the people us grieving people are talking about. Does it say aouthor is a psychotherapist? Nooo. Ofcourse you wouldnt forward to people that might GET it because youre too much of a know it all. I feel bad for you.
      • Snick commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
        Tracy, I lost my twih and will grieve this for my entire life, and my opinion of this article is still what it is, Why do you call those of us who have differing opinions know-it-alls who “don’t get it?” Please stop slinging hatred. This article does not sit well with me, even as I know that there is no way to fill that void. The other half of my soul is gone. There are many people who judge me for *my* manner of grieving, and yet I STILL think this is irresponsibly worded in places. People have different opinions. Belittling sarcasm is not at all helpful to anyone.
        • Melisa commented on December 22, 2013 Reply
          Snick…. your journey is just that, your journey. We all get to choose our own ways to travel our journey. Whether we walk, run, skip, or drag ourselves. I think what some are trying to say is that none of us truly know each others hearts, or what is best for each other. We all handle things differently. What is easy for you, may not be easy for me, and vice verse. We all need to respect each others journeys. I am sorry that this article does not work for your journey. It was written for grievers like myself, who do feel this way. If you don’t care for the way it’s worded, that is ok with me. I happen to think it fits me perfectly. None of us should be trying to change each other. May you be surrounded only by people with compassion and acceptance as you continue to live with your grief.
        • Tracy Freyre Wisneski commented on January 1, 2014 Reply
          Snick, first allow me to clarify that this is another Tracy than the one with whom you’ve been corresponding. I understand that this piece may not resonate with you and may not be helpful to your grieving friend. My prayers of hope for you both. Everyone experiences grief differently and rebuilds their lives differently. That is at the heart of this piece. This author stated quite clearly that she is speaking from a place of very personal experience to those who share those feelings. It is entirely appropriate that you not share them and certainly understandable that they may not be helpful to your friend. It makes none of you wrong, it simply makes you different. She shared this innermost and delicate part of herself with love and honesty. It is impossible for everyone’s emotions to be alike (in fact, that is part of our diverse beauty as humans). It makes no one wrong here and no blame should be pointed (at anyone). My deepest sympathies and highest hopes for healing for your friend and yourself.
      • Dhira commented on January 10, 2014 Reply
        Tracy, perhaps YOU should look at that terse reply you shot at “Disappointed”. Sometimes the things that you lash out at others for, are the things about yourself that bother you most….Specifically, the “know it all” comment…does it bother you that you portend to know it ALL about grief ? Because…… Don’t worry yourself…. YOU DON’T!!! Your “grief treatise” smacks of ideological drivel … a dogma you’ve created around your own personal journey with grief…. Then wrote about it(very nicely)as if it were the “Scripture of Grief” including truths and untruths according to your own personal responce to grief……..the universal truth is that the only thing we humans can control is our awareness, and that awareness drives our responses, of which grief is one . So if someone can offer some words to us that are in grief, that may help to lift up our awareness of ourself, then perhaps our responce to grief will elevate us to A higher understanding of it’s process inside us. Your view is unfortunately myopic and without hope for help from others…….
        • Dhira commented on January 10, 2014 Reply
          Tracy, please disregard my comment… It was to Allison…. Sincere apology
    • Carmen commented on January 3, 2014 Reply
      You have no idea…I am glad you are not a friend of mine..
      • Carmen commented on January 3, 2014 Reply
        My comment was meant for Disappointed.
    • Bonasca commented on September 23, 2014 Reply
      Amen. Hell yes. There is a dangerous fine line between grief and depression, and this articles ceases to acknowledge it, though it hovers exactly at the threshold of that line. It pisses me off when people take on a righteous standpoint giving advice that can be downright harmful to already vulnerable people. Also: This article is blatantly judging those of us who don’t agree with her. “they cannot accept their own mortality, they’ve never grieved, they don’t know loss, blablabla.” I’ve grieved 2 very close losses in just over a year, and I know where my soul is. And I’m still grieving. This woman offends me by stating that if I disagree with her, I don’t know loss and I can’t accept my own mortality. I think there is a better way for her to state her opinion without discrediting anyone who doesn’t share it.
  • mitzi garrett commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    I sooooo needed to read this today. I lost my 19 yr old son two and a half years ago and this is my third Christmas season without him. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting my grief into words…
  • Janet L. Swan commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    This is one of the most beautiful, authentic pieces I have ever read..and I’m 62. I wish everyone in the world would read it , and do it, and be it. . Thank you Alison Nappi.
  • Heather Sakai commented on December 19, 2013 Reply
    This is beautiful in so many ways. The truest words I have read in a very long time. Thank you so much for sharing. I needed this today.
  • Theresa Ong commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    What timing for me to come across the link that led me to this page. Along the way to the grocery store, my beloved late husband’s and my song came on the radio. It had been ages since I heard Pat Benatar’s “We Belong Together.” The water works came, and they came again when I read this page. It’s been six years since my beloved Colin passed away at the age of 35. He was killed by a med. that’s killed 3500 people including him. I’ve often felt so guilty as I think had I never brought him to the U.S. from Singapore, he would still be physically alive. I belong to a wonderful loving support group for widows/widowers on Face Book. I always tell people to please grieve in your own time and in your own way. There’s a beautiful book by Rusty Berkus which addresses grief in a wonderful way and gives that advice. It’s ” Hello Again. ” I think that’s the name of the book.
  • Kate commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    What if the people who can’t bear to hear your beloved’s name are also grieving? Don’t they have a right to grieve in their own way?
    • Melisa commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
      Kate, I read your comment and it reminded me of my family. My oldest son grieves that same way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. I personally believe that whatever we can do to keep us moving forward with our lives is what is best. I am a sharing griever. My son was 17 when he was killed. It helps me to share anything and everything about him. My youngest son is the same way. My oldest son isn’t. My daughter is kinda of in the middle. So out of respect for my daughter, and my oldest son, I am careful of certain things I do and say when around them, especially my oldest son. I don’t pressure him, or push anything on him. Respect of anyone grieving is completely necessary. So on that same note, he understands my need to share, and doesn’t try to stop me from doing so either. It took us a while to get to that understanding of each other’s grief though. I am sorry for your loss… may your memories of your beloved always be as vivid as the day they were created.
  • Eleanor commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    This is a tremendously brilliant article.
  • Wholly Jeanne commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    this better-than-fine post has deeply touched many people today, and i thank you on behalf of myself and those i shared it with. some of the grieving people i know go to bed tonight feeling less alone and less like they’re going crazy. your post is their pillow tonight.
  • Sherri Burke commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    I LOVED this essay on grief. It so perfectly expressed what I have been feeling since the death of my one and only grandchild from leukemia 3 months ago. I have had to go back to work and keep it together while my insides are withering. I wish I had your gift for words. I want to thank you for that, Alison. It made me feel just a little bit normal for awhile. I actually had a co-worker tell me, a month after my beloved’s death, that I should just “pack up those things and save them for the next grandchild.” Oh my God…it was like a dagger to my heart. People are not replaceable like cogs. And I question if I will ever get over this grief. He was only 2 years old. Sometimes life just sucks. But your writing so eloquently expressed all those things that are in my heart and mind.
  • Andrea commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    This is the best piece on grief I have read since I lost my husband 14 years ago. He was my Halley’s comet. Thank you for “getting it.” No one else I know seems to understand, even those who themselves have lost a loved one.
  • katiecoolady commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    I just want to say, before I go to bed, that I’ve shared this in various places today and these words have stayed with me all day. I’ve read all the comments and my heart is with each and every one of you out there. I will continue to check in. <3
  • wanttopraisehim commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    THANK YOU!!!! I can read this now, after losing both of my parents and a very dear friend that was like a mother and see that everything I’ve felt is okay. I hope and pray that someday I can share this with my step-daughter who is struggling with the loss of her mother. I don’t think she’s quite at the right place for it yet but, soon she will be. I think it would help her heal a little bit more. Thank you again for using a God-given gift to touch so many people.
  • ameinhold92@hotmail.com commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    this is enthralling. i’m 21&i’ve lost my big brother, my lover, and a close friend within the past 3 years. years later and i still don’t know what to do with any of it. your article is so consoling, and seeps truth between every line. thank you. too many people in my life don’t understand, and many people also don’t understand that it’s entirely your choice as to what you do with your losses&grief. let them humble you, enlighten you, or be an anchor around your ankle as you swim, a last nail in your coffin. all of those choices are entirely up to the individual making them. blame cannot be placed anywhere other than their shoulders.
  • theresetapp commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for putting this so beautifully. In my book “The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss” I refer to grief as the Heroic Journey. It is as individual as fingerprints. No one can tell you where your journey will take you, but as you advise, TAKE IT! With love and blessings, Therese globalgrief.com
  • samantha568 commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    This is beautiful. My cousin shared this with me. One who I am reunited with in adulthood as we lost our childhoods together by adoption. http://www.PeachNeitherHereNorThere.blogspot.com
  • Marc Weicman commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    “Sharp and pointy.” Insightful and trusting… of that deepest understanding of (y)ourself… that allows the words to flow from a pure source that may feel like hell, but turns out to be a kiln where we burn away what needs to burn, until all that is left is the “fired” part of our spirit that knows how to go on. Waaaaaaay cool. (and hot ;))
  • Sarah commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so much for this. My husband died 10 years ago this week. He was 39 and I was 32. I did not know how to cope (and almost didn’t). I am a very different person now but still read this and wept…with relief that someone understood, with continued sorrow for what was lost, and joy for what I have become. Thank you.
  • dnvrsangel commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    This is EXACTLY what I was meant to read this day….because I am a broken, wounded soul…and my grief over my loss has made me question if I am going nuts; if there is something really truly wrong with me because its a physical pain in my heart every day. I have shut myself off and out. I talk to them as if they are still here….but the ‘missing’ of them just does not go away. I don’t know that I will ever find my way through. I don’t know anything anymore other than this well of pain. I go through the motions of my day at work, but yes. My life took a 180 after they passed. It has not been the same. Thank you so much for putting into words EVERY thought, emotion, statement that I have heard…and so perfectly written that I am right now feeling for the first time that I am not crazy; not going crazy; and look forward … as maybe I will find my way….
  • Joy commented on December 20, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for this. I am completely changed by my loss. I will never be over it, I will never move on, I will never leave him in the past. How can I when he lives in my heart? And when he took part of my soul to eternity when he left? No one who has not lost their child could ever begin to understand this horrible loss. Like I told him before he died, I will never be ok without him. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for putting into words what my soul seems to scream constantly.
    • Twila commented on July 25, 2014 Reply
      Joy, my heart goes out to you <3 hold on to your love in your heart and never let go…I lost my youngest at 19 in a drowning accident and it was 10 days before we recovered him from the waters…I can only pray he knows my hearts longings… You will never be the same with out him, but he would never want that you suffer in grief all your earthly days…I have thought often that my boy wants me to be as happy as possible… (though hard to do ) I am sure all of our children would wish the same for us… blessings to you Joy and my wish for a peaceful heart. <3 hug from one grieving Mom to another <3
  • Diane commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
    Oh God, you have brought me to tears tonight, and it has been eight — nay, close to nine — long years since I lost my soulmate. I am, to the world, a marvelously adjusted person, comfortable with her new life. But you have written my unconsciousness, what lies beneath. OMG, you are so right. We feel what we feel, and no one can tell us what that should be. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
  • Pam Nix commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for your beautiful words. Today, you helped me.
  • Missing Scott commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for validating everything that people are too afraid of to validate. We are human. We can be weak, frail, lonely, sad. Broken. Wrong and regretful. I have been all those things, and they are nothing to be ashamed of. They are who we are. And losing a person, through death or otherwise, who you identified as a piece of your own soul, is an amputation without analgesic. Phantom limb syndrome is well documented. Why should it be otherwise with the heart? You are a gifted writer. I’m going to go cry myself to sleep, and not feel guilty about it. A good cleansing cry, that I have needed for weeks. Thank you for permission. I shouldn’t need it, but I guess I did.
  • Sandy Nelson commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
    Perfect! Years later it’s still an issue. And things still don’t feel right. Never will.
  • Laure commented on December 21, 2013 Reply
    Wow. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have read and re-read this, savoring the beauty of your words, reflecting on the truth that speaks so clearly to my inner being. You have taken my journey of grief and articulated it in a way that makes me feel whole. What a beautiful expression and a wonderful gift as I mark the 10th year anniversary of my loss.
  • DAVID LAROUSSE commented on December 22, 2013 Reply
    Personal tragedies and grief aside, I remember when John Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn, and sister-in-law Lauren crashed into the waters off Martha’s Vineyard, and how hard it hit me. I remember kneeling over down on the floor, and repeating “Oh please let them find you, please be found, please be safe…” I am reminded that this inexplicable tragedy broke my heart profoundly, probably for the senseless waste of such worthy humans. I’m just sharing here… and your amazing comments on grief helps, even with this communal tragedy, 13 years & 5 months after the fact.
  • Barb commented on December 22, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so much for this. My grief FINALLY has not only words, but justification!
  • Billy commented on December 22, 2013 Reply
    The last one reminds me of a quote (the lie about how time heals all wounds) “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ― Rose Kennedy
  • Eric Suchman commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Thanks You………………………
  • Jennifer McCullough commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Amazing. Just amazing. Finally, after searching for two years for someone, something written that puts my grief into words, I found it. Thank you. I’m going to share this post everywhere.
  • positivegrievers commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    I feel you are absolutely right. We never get over grief; we learn to live with it, we learn from it and hopefully our life expands from it.
  • Susan T. Blake commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Profoundly beautiful and true. Thank you, Alison.
  • Vicki commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    I never “got over it.” I never will. I feel that I am in good company after reading your words, Alison. It is okay to grieve in our own way(s)….without a clock telling us it’s time to stop. God Bless You.
  • Suzanne Boles commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Just over six months ago I lost my husband and friend of over 30 years. Every word you wrote is true. I am glad you were able to say when I am feeling.
  • Suzanne Boles commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    I also write about my loss but am having a hard time writing about it lately because I am being told that it causes others too much pain. Insane. http://www.suzanneboles.wordpress.com.
    • India commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
      Do not stop writing. The world needs you to tell the truth.
  • Suzeltte commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    In the past two years I have helplessly borne witness as people I deeply care about have lost their spouses. This is the first thing i’ve read that I would draw from or share with them. This is the first thing i’ve read that honors their grief, their journey, and their beloved lost.
  • jd commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Two years ago right now my wife of 26 years was dying in a cold hospital room, having suffered a massive aneurysm. Eight days dying, and, in the end, I had to sign her life away. Along with mine. There’s nothing more to add, really, no matter what anyone says.
  • Alison Nappi
    Alison Nappi commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    I wish there was a “reply all” button for this thread, because each and every one of you who has lovingly, courageously shared your stories have touched me deeply. I wish I could respond to everyone individually, but alas, I am just one person. I have read ALL your comments, and have borne compassionate witness to, not only your grief, but your courage, your mighty will, your compassion, your willingness, your love, deeper than the seven seas. You have taken my breath away. Isn’t it amazing, how we have all been brought together from all over the world, united in this one common experience? Isn’t it amazing, that despite our own pain, we are showing up for each other? Isn’t it amazing, that distance is no object for hearts that beat in unison? Isn’t it wonderful that our tattered and broken hearts can hold grief and also love all at the same time? We truly are amazing beings. I want you to know, I’m here for you. For those of you who feel ready, I am happy to work with you one on one, to find words that help your grief flow out of your body and increase your peace. This is a heart offering, and you can learn more about it on my website: http://www.writewithspirit.com, under my “Write to Heal Program.” You are not alone. Thank you so much for showing up. I appreciate you immensely and I see you, old friend. ~With truest love, Alison Nappi
  • Sue Fisehr commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting into words something that cannot be put into words. You spoke my heart and I am grateful.
  • Caroline commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    I cannot eloquently express my reaction to or gratitude for this beautiful article that puts so many of my deepest (but sometimes conflicted) emotions and feelings into words. At a minimum, thank you. This piece is so comforting, validating and refreshing — rare but welcome reactions to a piece about the utter awful and longing devastation of death and loss. Seriously, thank you.
  • deirdresm commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Thought I’d share my own perspective too. Thanks for this post. http://deirdre.net/getting-over-grief-yeah-right/
  • Pat commented on December 23, 2013 Reply
    Thank you that was so beautiful..I lost my brother to suicide 4 years ago October…It was such a devistating loss…I have been in funk ever since…feeling alone, depressed, etc….I went to vist a medium and spoke to my brother it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me…for him to validate me in the ways that he did was amazing…I know now in my heart and soul he is still with me and always will be…your words were awesome…In the last 4 years, I have lost my mother in law and brother a day apart and my step Mom shortly after, and them my Mom….It has been a devistating 4 years…. Thank you….
  • Rio commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    Alison, your article makes me think that you have lost and grieved, but if not, then you did an excellent job putting into words a lot of what I experienced over 13 years ago. I remember thinking that I was thirty, a grown woman, and should have been handling it a lot better than I was. Only it doesn’t work that way. Your age doesn’t matter; your education doesn’t matter; your experiences don’t matter – grief is grief, and there is no one-way to get through it. In my case, it was when I finally gave myself over to it completely and let myself feel every sucky moment of it, that I started coming out of what I called “the darkness.” I learned to be happy again, to let myself feel, to breath, to really (really) smile. Time does not heal all wounds, but it does make things more bearable. Or perhaps we just learn to live with the pain.
  • Debra Alewine commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    Thank you soooooo much. I just lost my soul mate, my husband and some people think I should just move on or be over it or I’m depressing. This words that you have written are correct in every way. I will share.
  • Ann Robson Walk commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    Thank you. I identify with what Debra Alewine said. I too just lost my soulmate, my husband. My pain is so deep that sometimes I can’t find it. A friend shared this article with me, and I will treasure it forever, and read it every time I need to be reminded of what is real. This is a lifeline for me.
  • sheila kalajdzic commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    I cried reading this beautifully written essay.
  • Richard Allen commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    No one EVER talks about WHY we grieve – what purpose does all this horrible pain serve? Once we understand WHY we go through this extraordinarily painful process we will have taken a step toward understanding how we become who we are. What we are actually doing when we grieve is re-remembering EVERYTHING we ever knew about that person. The purpose why it is so painful is so we will never forget what we learned from that person. Grieving is the very last chance we will ever have to benefit from the one who is now departed. Chances are the knowledge that person had was useful to us, and grieving permanently embeds that knowledge in us so that we may benefit from who our loved one was for the rest of our lives. Proof of this is that the more important that person was to us the worse we feel. We just don’t grieve for strangers the same way do for our loved ones because we don’t learn from strangers. Grieving is making sure we never forget who a loved one was. A big part of me being a good and useful person came from those who I have lost; they are all now part of who I am until it is time for me to be so intensely remembered!
    • Holly commented on June 17, 2015 Reply
      For Richard, I love what you wrote here. I agree the grief we feel has a purpose and have always felt my grief for my 23 year old son is SACRED. It is my life now and casts a gentle fog over everything because I cannot take anything bright or loud or anything that jars my protective cocoon. It has made me a better person, much less materialistic and much more spiritual and loving. But all the good benefits pale in comparison to the hopeful and bright life I had when my son was here with me. But what you wrote made me think, especially about re-remembering everything about that person. So true. And it’s a tribute to them and how they made our lives worth living. When I don’t know what to do, I ask myself what my son would say, because I know what he would say and I also ask him outright because I feel that he can hear me.
  • Tiffany commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    This is absolutely beautiful and so very true! You put to paper the things I could not find the words for. Bless you for sharing you insight and for your talent of writing!
  • Phoebe commented on December 24, 2013 Reply
    How do we speak of words so black that they are stark against the light of our life? Grief is the death of a rose, for those special petals will never again bloom, but will leave room for a more beautiful blossom to grow. I cannot express the deep gratitude and heartfelt joy that reading this has brought me by allowing me to relive those moments past. May your words guide those who truly need to hear them, and may your path be filled with light, love, and joy.
  • cheetaahh commented on December 25, 2013 Reply
    Thank you so very, very much Alison for this incredible article. So many times when I’ve grieved, I’ve been put down because of how or how long I do. I had to learn to grieve in silence and was afraid to share with anyone, mostly because I didn’t want to burden them or I was afraid they would die also.This prevented me from grieving fully. A friend shared this on facebook and I’m glad she did. The fact is that it’s completely acceptable to grieve, but others are just uncomfortable with it, so they tell you these lies or prevent someone from grieving. In other countries, there are different grief customs. Even animals grieve, so why do people feel it’s unnatural for people to grieve? Sometimes American society is so anal it makes me want to scream “WAKE UP! Life and death are normal. It’s natural to grieve!” And the thing is that you can grieve many different things, not just the loss of a loved one, although the intensity and duration of the grief might me less, depending on what it is.
  • Robert commented on December 26, 2013 Reply
    Hi Alison. Thank you for your article. I lost my partner and soulmate on December 21st, 2013. His death was unexpected and sudden in hospital. We had been together 22 years and he was my universe and I was his. His death could well be due to medical negligence and I am going to pursue every avenue of redress. He needed me and I needed him. You are right when you talk of grieving for the end of one’s own life as well as that of the other person. I have no desire to carry on living. Neither of us had family -we have friends in common, but at the end of the evening, there was just us two together with the dog and that is all we wanted. I do not want to leave a legacy of intense grief by committing suicide, but I really want things to end as soon as possible. I have already got a promise from someone to look after the dog. You are right, when you say that some grief is insuperable. I am a young 65 but feel that I have lived long enough and hope that I can just go and with it will go the unbearable pain. I do not believe in God and the afterlife – my partner did – so I can find little comfort in any platitudes about reuniting with him for eternity. His life came to end prematurely -he was only 43 – and with his passing, my story is at an end. PS No, it’s not a question of my grief being at an early stage and I’ll feel better later.
    • Alison Nappi
      Alison Nappi commented on December 26, 2013 Reply
      I sent you a reply, Robert. Please come back to the site and take a moment to read it. You will find it right under this one.
  • Alison Nappi
    Alison Nappi commented on December 26, 2013 Reply
    Robert: There is nothing I can say to you that will change the deep grief you are feeling. What I can tell you is that when I lost my soul’s mate, there were many times I thought my grief would kill me. I considered and fantasized often of bringing my own life to closure because I could see no other way to end my pain, but I knew that was not what my loved one would want. I felt that I would disappoint him if I did that and it was important to me to uphold the honor under which we lived. Like you, I had little to no support from family and friends, and so I stared into the darkness of my spirit in large part, alone. Eventually, I sought counseling and support from others. I am not a therapist, and so I can’t give you advice even if I had any that was not already written. I am writing to you because I want you to know that you are not alone, even though you feel that way. Scroll through the comments and bear witness to all the amazing and courageous people who are finding the strength everyday to go on, even though it hurts. If we can do it, you can do it too. I urge you to seek the support you need from a professional or even a suicide hotline in your moments of most intense grief. There are even online grief forums you can join to receive support from others going through similar feelings from the safety and comfort of your own home. You might not think the world needs you, but it does. You are loved, whether you can feel it or not. Don’t give up. ~Alison
    • Robert commented on December 26, 2013 Reply
      Thank you, Alison, for taking the time to reply and for your kindness. I agree with all your sentiments, but it’s a bit like toothache: knowing that someone else has toothache means that it is a shared and common experience, but that doesn’t stop your tooth from hurting. It sounds horrible, but seeing some awful tragedy on the news does not put my own pain into context and proportion. The pain just continues. For some, good advice may work, for others grief is just too overwhelming. We can read or learn of many who have died quite soon after their spouse or partner has passed away. I believe that this is referred to as ‘broken heart syndrome’. My mother committed suicide and left me with a terrible legacy. I could not wish that on someone else. My greatest hope, however, is that this grief will consume me naturally, so that with my last breath goes the last remnant of pain. This may be selfish as I will be inflicting the awfulness (however natural) of grief on other people -passing on the burden, as it were. However, one has to be realistic about just how much one can bear. Last night, I watched ‘Mr Bean’ on TV and started laughing and then suddenly, the tears came like never before and my desk at the moment is wet with my tears. There is part of me that craves to accept an afterlife and the prospect of reunion, but my intellect prevents me from accepting such a concept. Someone said to me that I should contact a psychic medium as it had helped him, but such people, however well-intentioned, do not belong in my world. I almost feel envious for those who genuinely believe that there is something else as it must make grieving a bit easier, even if it is a minute percentage. Yes, I have lots to offer. I am well-educated and articulate and am considered, by others, to be a good person, but all that does not help me tackle the worst ever feeling in my life. My main concern is not for myself, it is for my partner, Shaun. He had a few mental health issues and I had been his rock for 22 years, caring for him, hugging him and assuring him that everything would be all right with the world. During the last couple of years, he has had a lot of pain, but he went from hospital to hospital, doctor to doctor and no diagnosis would ever be given that was commensurate with his constant pain and infections. In the last six months, our relationship became very tense at times because he would cry with pain and for the first time ever, I couldn’t help him. I feel so sorry for him because he was only 43 and should have had -with proper treatment – a good life ahead. Now he is a cold, empty shell. His beautiful smile will never again radiate any room into which he walked. People will remember it and hold memories dear in their hearts, but for me, memories are of as much comfort as the smells coming from a kitchen would be for a starving man. Alison, I am sorry for your own loss and I admire your ability to deal with it and pass on your experiences to others in order to help them and I am happy that many have found your words a comfort. Grief and the capacity to cope with it varies from person to person. Some people are naturally courageous and strong. Others have their children to care for, so that for much of the day, they are too occupied to brood. When there is tea to be made, no one wants tears in the soup and no one wants someone wailing at the table during the meal. Intense grief goes with intense love and the fact of loving brings with it the risk of losing. For some the old adage, ‘I cannot live without you’ sometimes, with time, becomes ‘I have learned to live without you’, but for others it remains a perpetual truth.
      • Alison Nappi
        Alison Nappi Author commented on December 27, 2013 Reply
        I feel so deeply for you, Robert. I don’t think you are selfish. I understand that you are at a great crossroads in your life and that it feels like you will never be okay. Of course I know that when it comes to the searing pain death leaves in it’s wake, that seeing others survive it does not lessen our own terrifying ache. No one wants to learn to live with the void left behind by loss. When we are in earth-shattering pain, we are sure our ends are upon us, but sometimes, just beyond the boundary of surrender, we come newly alive. May you find the glimmering gift on the other side of this darkness.
        • Robert commented on December 27, 2013 Reply
          Thanks, Alison, for your very kind words. You sound like an extremely nice person and I hope those around you share my opinion. I think that the 6th lie may well be that everyone will survive the grieving process somehow.
          • Jen commented on December 31, 2013
            Oh Robert, I hurt for you. And of course there isn’t a word or gesture that I or anyone else can offer in the hopes of making it better for you. So I will just say this: Life doesn’t always make sense, nor is it at all fair. Not that you are asking that of it but I sense in your pain, that you need to blame someone. That may a very valid anger in your situation.and it sounds like you have a very small support group. Please though, consider what your partner would have done if the situation were reversed. Or what he wanted for you. Grief is beyond crippling and clouds much else. Okay, enough of my penny therapy.
          • J commented on October 23, 2014
            No offense, Robert, but you need to dial back the crazy. Wanting to die is cool, and a valid emotional response, but it has no substance, justification, nor future. You had a lot of ego invested into a mortal man, which ultimately is only as good as the man’s guarantee to stay alive forever. In other words, you invested poorly, and now, like everyone who suffers a loss, you must carry on. Your current path is to become a lifeless corpse yourself (which ultimately will be true anyway), but not any kind of relieved or happy comes to a lifeless corpse. You might ask yourself if the man you loved would want you to follow him into the grave. Or perhaps you are too far gone into vicarious self-indulgence to ever come back. In any case, everything you feel and everything you do are quite clearly your choice.
      • India commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
        The way you speak about Shaun makes me want to know him, Robert. He sounds extraordinary. Your relationship – its length, its depth, the illness you endured together – sounds extraordinary. You sound extraordinary. I want to know your story and you’re the only one who can do it justice. I hope you will stay among us, Robert. I hope you will choose to honor Shaun by telling the world why his smile and his life radiated so profoundly in yours. “Each man’s life touches so many others. If he hadn’t lived, it would have left an awful hole,” said Clarence the Angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I hope you will write. We need voices like yours to speak the truth about love and pain and the depths of this profoundly beautiful, broken life. Honor Shaun. Tell us your story. Soup filled with tears is better than an empty bowl. I would share a cup of tea with you every day of the week and twice on Tuesdays. Peace to your heart, love to your darling dog, light to your beloved’s memory.
        • Claudia commented on November 28, 2014 Reply
          India you have a beautiful soul. Robert, I feel your pain and despair completely. It’s been a while since these posts… I hope you are feeling a little stronger in your journey and have a little light in your life. I hope you are hanging in there. Hugs
          • Holly commented on June 18, 2015
            I was very offended by some responses to Robert – such as telling her outright that she ‘wants to blame someone’, to ‘dial back the crazy’, and that she is being ‘self-indulgent’. Let’s have a glass of truth! This whole article by Allison is about the truth, about not being judgmental of those in grief. We are all human and it’s funny to read the different responses and attitudes to the same thing, but none of us needs or wants to be judged critically at this time. If I want to spend the rest of my life eating cake and candy or never getting dressed or hiding in my house, or whatever it takes for me to just stay alive for another second, that is what I will do because it is my life I must live in. If I want to become crazy, that, too, is mine to decide and mine alone. If I want to blame god, joe or bob, if that makes me feel better or able to live another second, that, too, is mine to do if I wish to. Please don’t tell any of us what we ‘should’ do. Not all of us are finding the way to make lemonade out of our lemons nor do we even want the lemonade in the first place. Nor do we need a tough-love coach. I applaud you, Robert, for your HONESTY, and wish you peace.
  • Vinnie commented on December 27, 2013 Reply
    This said so very much of what I feel often. Thank you…
  • Ralph Circelli commented on December 27, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for putting into words what I have come to know these past two years. My wife died suddenly, and at a very young age leaving behind a (then) 5 year old boy. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard these lies………from friends! I know they try and say what they think is right but my thinking is “You don’t know what I’m going through”. I am going to share this on Facebook and, hopefully, people will get a clue. Thank you!
  • Samantha commented on December 27, 2013 Reply
    What an amazing article! Thank you Alison for such true words. People need to understand that grief is a different process for each person. Unconditional love is the best support one can give to others. My favorite part you wrote…….”they have their own mountains yet to climb.” People can’t give any advice when he/she has never experienced loss. It is our responsibility to love and listen. Sometimes people just need a listening ear. Again- amazing article! You touched my life! Have a blessed 2014!
  • cheekymuffy commented on December 28, 2013 Reply
    My everything put a gun to his head in the trunk of his car and pulled the trigger just over 3 weeks ago. I’m no stranger to grief but this loss does not come close to any kind of pain–physical, mental, or emotional–that I’ve ever experienced. Your essay is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I know I have a long road ahead of me and I’m going to just sit in the rubble for a while. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay for me to do that.
  • Elizabeth commented on December 29, 2013 Reply
    Thank you for eloquently expressing what some of us have endured. I lost my child just over 14 years ago and I am the one that defied what others “thought” was how I should “be”. Still today, I have moments but I am confident one day our spirits will be reunited. I also wanted to say that no one should use what you write or anyone has out there as an excuse to be bitter or be self-destructive in any way. I recall belonging to grief support groups where others would compare their griefs – so unproductive. I also have seen a great many over the years become bitter and not better. I refused to allow that for myself. We transform, if we wish and we are better for it.
  • Jen commented on December 31, 2013 Reply
    Simply, thank you.
  • Dr. William OMara commented on January 4, 2014 Reply
    Perfect. Truth.
  • Danielle commented on January 5, 2014 Reply
    I lost my Dad last February to Liver Cancer… I have struggled with my grief and this is the first thing I have read that makes sense to me. I was going through emotions and feelings that were opposite from what everyone tells you you should be feeling. Time heals all wounds, that is what EVERYONE tells you. I kept waiting and wondering when time would heal mine but it hasn’t happened. It has almost been a year and I miss him as much if not more than I did back then. This really makes me feel some peace that there is no uniform way to handle it and I am not crazy. My feelings are valid and understandable. Thank You for putting this into words that I could never express especially to people who have never experienced a loss.
  • baby girl commented on January 5, 2014 Reply
    I am glad you are not my friend!
  • Bb commented on January 5, 2014 Reply
    This has been so powerful to me! I read it everyday :) thank you so much for the poetic clairvoyance
  • gatito2 commented on January 5, 2014 Reply
    I lost my 23 year old daughter Kaitlyn to suicide 4-11-13. She was starting her 3rd year of medical school and we only learned of her depression in her suicide note. Your article is the best thing I’ve ever read since she died. You convey so many of my feelings. Thank you so much. I miss my daughter who was so sweet, brilliant, and the light of my life. Never getting over that until the day I die.
  • Lorraine commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
    My husband and best friend of 40 years died suddenly last Christmas Day. This Christmas was dreadful as it seems the world is celebrating our loss and there is no escape from the gross tacky onslaught. I feel like a pariah in my lack of seasonal “cheer” and feel unspoken resentment from colleagues,I was shocked by this. I also noticed how many friends have evaporated, but this has made me ferociously grateful for the ones who stayed and have got me through thus far. Everyone is different and so are their stories. So bravo for saying we have the right to deal with things however we can.Even if it appears we are when we are not , or is obvious we are not. And to be relieved if we get an hour or day or week when the pressure relents and we feel ok.It is ok to feel ok too.
  • Kristin commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
    I guess that it is not important to compare your pain to someone else’s pain. Though, having lost my husband who loved me does make me feel lucky to have known true love. Our love story was intact and he left loving me and me him.
  • Rick commented on January 6, 2014 Reply
    This is just excellent in both content and style. Thank you.
  • Sabra Turner commented on January 7, 2014 Reply
    Thank you for sharing this with the world. I desperately needed to hear those words to ease my painfully broken soul.
  • sunnie commented on January 7, 2014 Reply
    Thank you for sharing this. I hope my beautiful baby girl reads this.
  • Dina commented on January 7, 2014 Reply
    Thank you. <3
  • Matthew J Root commented on January 7, 2014 Reply
    My dear wife, Sarah, died 16 months ago. She was beautiful and in perfect health, still running half marathons at 54. Then, she contracted a rare kind of cancer (leiomyosarcoma) and was gone. I live with deep, unending grief every day. I will never get over it, I will never move on. I will learn how to live with it, but she will always be with me.
  • Cheryl commented on January 7, 2014 Reply
    Thank you Alison you have an amazing talent with words and a brave heart for sharing. It has been 5 years since my 5 year old died suddenly in a car crash. I had never been touched by the loss of a close loved one until then and know now that my previos approach to friends and coworkers living this was mostly fearful and misguided. Although what some people though well intended do and say to comfort us can be very hurtful I have gotten to place of understanding that they are just trying to fix the un fixable out of a place of caring . I hate that it is unfixable but love caring people so much. I just have decided I will not turn my back on them or my son. How to do this is a constant challenge. Thank you for impossibly , amazingly putting words to the many feelings . Wow!
  • Lorraine, everyone calls me Lol, Joshua called me Woman, I love that boy, Mummy xxxx commented on January 8, 2014 Reply
    Didion, Kubler-Ross and all others…pale in the shadow of this young “whipper snapper” Exceptional piece of insight, knowledge, shared experience…please move to England, please give us more. “Grief does not change you… It reveals you.” ~ John Green, and you too lovely Alison, you too!
  • 50truespondKathy commented on January 8, 2014 Reply
    I happened across this article while searching for words to console my sister who lost her son, my nephew, just 4 weeks ago. I will share this with her when I feel the time is right. Thank you.
    • Val commented on January 11, 2014 Reply
      I am so sorry for her loss…losing a parent was devastating, I can only imagine what it’s like to lose your child…my heart goes out to her and all if you who love them<3
  • Val commented on January 11, 2014 Reply
    The analogy I used when my father died was that it was as though the world had stopped but everyone kept going like nothing had happened…I couldn’t figure out how no one realized that the whole world had changed. 10 years later, every time I watch anything that involves cancer or loss it’s as though I watched him die yesterday, still so fresh it takes my breath away…hence, when I meet someone with a fresh loss, I tell them not to listen to anyone but their heart. Loss doesn’t go away, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier with time…the best it’s gotten is that it’s not the first thing to hit me when I wake up in the morning. To each their own where loss is concerned, feel what you’re feeling and the natural course of grief will happen in it’s own time.
  • Beth Bennett commented on January 12, 2014 Reply
    I found this article the day before a meeting of a group we created for parents who lost their children who had significant developmental and medical needs. They had triumphed and succeeded in raising their kids, and wrapping their lives around them, and then they were gone. It seems to be a grief like no other. We’ve had a terrible time finding anything to read that honors the magnitude of their loss – but I was thrilled to be able to share your article with them. Thank you so much.
  • Shirley Lindsey commented on January 12, 2014 Reply
    Thank you this is so true in so many ways. This makes me know that the way I feel is ok .
  • Diana commented on February 11, 2014 Reply
    BINGO!!!!!
  • Maggie commented on February 11, 2014 Reply
    I do pray for you. I thought I was grieving when I lost my Dad until I lost my young son. You are so right we don’t want this pain for a lack of a better word on any one.
  • Jayedee DeWitt commented on February 11, 2014 Reply
    my son was murdered 22 months ago. thank you for writing what is in my heart.
  • Julia commented on February 13, 2014 Reply
    Thank. You. ♥
  • Ali commented on February 18, 2014 Reply
    Incredible article. Thank You!
  • going to goa blog commented on March 4, 2014 Reply
    Dear Alison, Thank you for expressing the Truth so beautifully. I am grieving the loss of my beloved last September. I recently watched Liam Neeson on 60 Minutes talk about grief and his wife died five years ago. Time means nothing. I am glad that I am feeling the grief so deeply because my love was that deep, too. The alternative is to live a shallow superficial life where nobody gets hurt. I can’t do that, nor would I choose to. Your blog post is very comforting to me. Thank you. Namaste, Katy
  • Haze commented on March 7, 2014 Reply
    This is how I exactly feel, expressed in words. Thank you for this.
  • Julia commented on March 20, 2014 Reply
    I found this gorgeous article so randomly and perfectly. My father died one year ago but died inch by inch for five years with Alzheimers. Watching him disappear a bit each day was devastating and his death was crushing to me. My dear husband lost his father a year to the day after my father. Our house is filled with grief with no name or direction but this lovely article has given us a truth we felt but could or would not say. Mahalo nui loa.
  • Hello World commented on March 24, 2014 Reply
    I also agree with Jen. Depending on why they leave you, I think sometimes someone leaving you can be worse than death. Only because someone can die but you know they loved you, and someone can leave you and you don’t know why or if you will ever see them again. The greatest lost I had was of my birthmother. Funny, I was born on January 11th.
  • BornQueen commented on March 27, 2014 Reply
    “Your grief is your love, turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds.” Incredible…just beautifully incredible! This passage had me bawling like a baby.
  • Alison Nappi
    Alison Nappi commented on March 29, 2014 Reply
    After we’ve accepted that the grief is there, we can remove the judgement that is adding to our suffering. These are the judgements that cause us to look at our grief as an invasive force that we both love and despise: as something that keeps us feeling connected to our lost loves, and gets in the way of our happiness. We can do this by recognizing that our grief is there to teach us about the nature of joy and love, which is what we are mourning the loss of. When we understand this by being with our grief, then we come to see the process of deepening that happens in us. As we do the deep healing, we begin to realize that we are vast enough to hold the pain or the imprint of loss, which is only the underbelly of the love and the ecstasy. We come to understand the nature of dichotomy as an illusion that shows us the experience of polarization. We recognize that to hold one is to hold the other, and so it doesn’t seem so impossible to love again, because it does not require us to be free of grief, to give up the emotional tribute we all pay to death and loss. Getting grief out of our bodily memory, or rather, reclaiming our own vitality (applying life to a memory of death in the language of our bodies) is a process that is more complex than dealing with the single loss that is causing us the most pain, because we must begin to search for what makes us come alive again, and we have to endure the natural cycle of bearing compassionate witness to our true feelings before that becomes possible. We must find out who we really are (for the first time, all over again) because a loss like death or even a divorce changes the game board in an instant, but our evolution takes time. In this culture grief is a secret we are cautioned to keep, and as such it becomes part of our unconscious mythology, as all secrets do. In order to be kept, a secret must remain shrouded, and so we must add many layers on top of them to keep ourselves from betraying the secret (in this case, grief) that we are keeping. By so doing we create distance. We think that this keeps us safe– that’s what our culture teaches us, it’s what our families teach us–but in truth it separates us from our true nature, our instinctive knowing, the power of our ecstatic spirits. Keeping these kinds of secrets creates great shadows, blind spots in our internal landscapes, piled so high that they block out the sun: the true self, “she (or he) who knows.”
  • Melanie commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    Wow! Such a beautiful article with so much truth wrapped up in it all. I lost my husband/ soul partner of 8 years to a heart attack at the age of 34 in April of 2011. So much indescribable pain. Life does go on and it does get better. In times of turmoil your true support network presents itself. I’m so thankful for the friends and family who supported me in the way I needed. Thanks for this great read!
  • Anushae commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    Very well written! So raw and real. Loved it!!
  • Samantha commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    Thank you for writing this. As an adult adoptee, I find that my grieving has been in solitude because our grief is disenfranchised in this society.
  • Janna commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    Dear Alison Thank you so much for this article. Wow! This is possibly the most beautiful, most well put-together piece of writing I have ever come across and you truly spoke to my soul. I cried hard throughout the piece; each point strummed on a different chord within me. I feel like I can breathe better that this perspective is in the world and at 36, I still grieve the loss of my mother when I was 10. So beautiful, thank you!
  • Ann commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    I never thought anyone could understand what I have been carrying for so long. In my trying to hide it and keep my silence, “go on with my life,” there is such pain. There are only a few places in the world I can go and be truly my self; scarred, full of echoes and tears, sometimes unable to even speak….but here, on this early spring morning, with no warning at all, I am given this deep, deep understanding through Alison Nappi’s words. Writing THANK YOU seems so inadequate, but it’s all I can think to say. Thank You. And I repeat, Thank You.
  • Cathy commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    It has been 3 years this May since I lost my 21 year old son in a senseless accident that could have easily been prevented. The pain is as raw today as it was on Aug 27/11. Thank you for the validation of your words……thanks
  • Alan commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    This is so true. In 1966 there was a disaster in a mining village in Wales called Aberfan. A heap of “spoil” from the coal mine slid down onto the village (40,000 cubic metres) and buried the school killing half the pupils there, about 120 of them. The village was shattered. The relevant thing here is that some time later they discovered that many were suffering from symptoms of stress and stress-related diseases. By far the majority of those were the fathers of the children rather than the mothers. The conclusion was that the mothers were able to work through their grief in time by all the regular group meetings they organised where they would hug each other and talk through their pain. The men, on the other hand, had to go back to work down the mine and keep a stiff upper lip just to enable their families to survive. Lesson: Emotional traumas (grief) not worked through in an effective and timely way, in the manner in which it is most needful, will find their way into our bodies and wreak havoc. It has to vent somewhere, somehow…
  • Vicky Dunsmore Paschke commented on March 30, 2014 Reply
    I believe that everyone needs to grieve in their own time, and in their own way, but there comes a time (and most healthy individuals know when that times is) to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and start over again. No, your life is never the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good life. Unfortunately, there are some folks who fall into such a deep depression that they don’t ever feel able to pick themselves up from the depths of depression. That is what counselling and grief support is there for. If these interventions weren’t available, there would probably be a higher percentage of people commiting suicide after emotional trauma and loss. It is important to understand in life that no one gets out of this life alive. Everyone has a life expectancy. We are all likely to experience the loss of loved ones. It hurts and it is sad, but it is part of the life experience. We are designed to grieve, and to go on living. Many times, the most effective way to grieve is by reaching out to others for support. If one does not work through grief/losses/emotional traumas, but instead just stuff the emotions down to a deeper level, the result is dangerous. The stuffed down trauma will work its way to the surface in many different ways to wreak havoc. It can be in violent outbursts, road rage, or some sort of health crisis. I often need coping support myself as a hospice nurse, since I support many people through their loss. Sometimes the burden is heartbreaking, and the sadness gets to be too much to bear. I find it important to have someone to reach out to in those times.
  • Cinnamon Muhlbauer commented on March 31, 2014 Reply
    Someone sent this post to me several months ago and since then I have read it nearly every week. It is the only comfort I have. My story, my fairy tale was my dog…www.everythingrosie.com and she died very unexpectedly in October. She looked like a tiny fairy tale being and I truly believed that after all the care and love she was getting, we would have that happy ending. Instead of taking her to the park today, instead of buying her favorite yogurt at the store, instead of napping with her in my arms, I am sitting in my house, tears running down my cheeks wishing people would stop telling me that she was just a dog or that God needed another angel and she’s in a better place…those sentiments do not comfort me, they infuriate me. Thanks to your piece, I realize I am not alone. I know that I will never again be the person I was before I rescued her and I will never again be the person I was when I had her with me, I am someone entirely different and I need to learn to survive in this new form.
  • Henrietta Stathopoulos commented on March 31, 2014 Reply
    Perfect…you have articulated what most find too difficult to express or even confront head on. Thank you.
  • Sharon Lyn commented on March 31, 2014 Reply
    This stunned me with its eloquence and truth. I lost a year from art school to a profound, stunning personal loss that I will probably never get over — and that was 25 years ago. I’ve had to learn to live around it rather than bury it. Over time, I learned to make my own life the meaning that was lost, then. But it took a long time along the way. Thank you for this.
  • Danielle commented on April 1, 2014 Reply
    My close and very dear friend posted this on FB this morning and I read most of it before having to leave for work. I cannot tell you in words how just perfect this post is, I don’t know what else to call it other than you totally nailed it. I have been fortunate enough that I haven’t lost many people in my life. But the ones I have lost, I am finding lately I’m grieving their loss again and it startles me at it seemingly ‘out of the blue’. Which at times amazes and confuses me as if to think, “Poppop has been gone for over two years now. MomMom and then Kalyn have been gone since 2006. Why are you still feeling this way?!” Impossible. I will miss them and others every single day of my life until I am able to join them. That is just the nature of the Beast that is grief and living without the ones we love. Can I just add that grief applies to more than just lost loved ones, pets, and the “standard norm” (is there such a thing)? My whole childhood and majority of my life revolved around moving to different cities and states, so I would end up losing friends over the years due to time and space, etc. With that I lost a piece of myself each time we moved. It was like when we packed up the house and left for new destination part of me stayed behind there. No one could really understand what I was going through. I vividly recall when I was probably seven or eight and sobbing to my mother how much I missed my grandmother and how much I wanted to go home, wherein I meant our “home base” in Philadelphia where my parents and extended family is from where I was born. Her response was very logical, cold cut and frank. “This is your home now, Danielle.” Basically man the fuck up and move on. There were times where I would sit on the floor in front of the record player/CD system we had and cry endlessly to this one song that for me was cathartic, Petula Clark’s Downtown. Yes, you wouldn’t normally associate that song to something as cathartic or sob-worthy; for me it was. I had a hell of a childhood and my teen years were riddled with angst, grief, despair. I am learning and understanding now exactly how much all of that loss and grief from multiple moves effected my life. As a small child you don’t really have the proper “tools” to handle grief I think. Least not in a way that can be turned into something beneficial later on. So I was left to my own devices in a way. Thankfully my life was full of people who were able to help fill the voids and love me through whatever I was going through; even if they didn’t realize they were doing so. Please understand I am in no way comparing my losses or grief to anyone else’s. To do so is wholly unfair. No one persons loss is any greater or any less than anyone else’s. To us, to the person who has lost someone or something or someplace, it’s our whole world. All I am saying is that grief and loss come in many different forms. Alison, your writing here is deep and profound and wise beyond my own understanding. I have bookmarked this post, favorited it and will come back to read it again and again and still more. Grief is like a cavernous hole you can never fill no matter how much dirt you throw in there. Glad to finally find someone who puts my thoughts, feelings and emotions into words I can fully understand. Thank you!!!!!!!!!
    • Sharon Lyn commented on April 1, 2014 Reply
      Danielle, I can understand that. Every time you moved, it probably felt like you lost your center — like a locus of balance. So as you grew up you must have felt as though you were on a tightrope, never certain where the footing would stay certain. I understand that entirely. Often I hear others lament how they would love to be young again. I am always thinking, “Not me.” I far prefer my present, where I know what I know. Experience and knowledge is an armor…ballast too. Warm thoughts to you.
  • racheldardenbennett commented on April 1, 2014 Reply
    Please know that you have moved me and comforted me as I watch my mother die. This grief feels like it swallow me. You are a courageous warrior. Thank you.
  • Linda commented on April 2, 2014 Reply
    All of the above comments are filled with the heartache of all our love. Someone mentioned that the suicide of a child was particularly difficult. She mentioned that her child’s life was filled not with illness (paraphrasing) but with promise–medical school, etc. My daughter was 24. She lost her hearing when she was one. She was beautiful and sad and loved animals and taught herself to groom dogs. She learned to talk and read so well and could sign, too. She would not be able to be a doctor; every concept, word, joke, emotion took her a great deal of effort to learn. She battled major depressive disorder. I know you didn’t imply that your loss is greater than mine because of all the “promise,” but I mistakenly took it that way. It is now my struggle to remember my other four daughters, my grandchildren, their promise, and my husband, and my sad ache that is neverending…
    • Holly commented on June 18, 2015 Reply
      You sound like a wonderful mom, Linda. May you feel your gentle one near.
  • Leo Vadala commented on April 5, 2014 Reply
    I agree with No. 1,2,3 and 4, and only partially agree with No. 5. True, time does not heal all wounds but it does the next best thing. It makes them bearable. We lost our 24-year-old granddaughter 5 years ago – struck by a car – just before Christmas. The pain, the heartaches, the sorrow and the turmoil that tragedy brought into our lives cannot be described. I am certain we could not have survived ourselves if the intensity of our grief we felt within the first several months had lasted any longer. Mercifully, it slowly subsided to a bearable level. The wound is still open, but we are still here – time has soothed our pain.
  • Rebecca commented on April 17, 2014 Reply
    Thank you so much! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
  • lilian commented on April 29, 2014 Reply
    For five years, I’ve dealt with a loss of a loved one. I knew that what pop culture espouses about grief is utterly false and yet I could never put into words why the popular ideas about the stages of grief were so wrong. Could never string the words together or write them down without falling into the pits of depression, feeling like I couldn’t get out of bed, feeling as if no one in my circle could understand, and even if they did, it wouldn’t matter because sympathy doesn’t solve the problem. You have put into words, so poeticly and yet so bluntly and simply, what I feel so often. Reading your piece was like screaming out what I’ve just wanted to tell the world the whole time. It was like, finally saying “Shut up, you don’t get it, you don’t understand and untill you lose someone so close to you, you never will. Stop expecting me to move on because you don’t have to live with the daily reminders of your loss, I do. Every time, I walk out the door, turn on the tv, listen to my ipod Iam reminded of what has been taken from me. Something so fundamental has been taken and I am reminded of it every second and yet people still expect me to move on. Your piece speaks all of that without being cliche. I am sending this to my friend in hopes that she benefits from this as I have. Thank so much for taking the time out to write this. It has truly helped.
  • Val W. commented on May 23, 2014 Reply
    The best grieving advice I have ever read, written most beautifully. Thank you for recognizing that we can be forever broken by loss.
  • Zuzana Zonova commented on May 29, 2014 Reply
    reading it with tears in my eyes.. Thank you, Alison. Your words make my “dark cave” periods more bearable. I am so glad you ARE :*
  • Jackie booker commented on June 8, 2014 Reply
    Lost to anyone is painful. I have enjoy reading.My die ten years. Ago . Realize relationship come and go.She is the love of my life. Let her go .was worst pain. Then my grandma , my brother. It hurt so bad sometime I just cry remember them. Now i can`t leave town because I may lose my childern, granda kids.
  • razzberryswirl commented on June 24, 2014 Reply
    Like most people, I have experienced profound loss and unimaginable grief. There are days when I carry it as a badge and days when I carry it like a cross. I still cringe when I see people post things about a loss such as, Heaven needed another angel or they are in a better place. Sometimes I even want to reach out and punch them when they say it. But I know they say it out of a place of not being able to take the pain away. I hate that our society thinks loss and grief is something to be “gone through” and eventually brushed under a rug or behind a carefully displayed picture frame of memories. My favorite quote sums it up most perfectly, just like this article…“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” -Anne Lamott.
  • lex commented on June 25, 2014 Reply
    absolutely beautiful. brought a tear to my eye
  • David Freiman | My Good Life Yoga commented on June 25, 2014 Reply
    I’m glad that your article has helped so many people on this blog, but rhetorically, it seems to be a straw man argument. What is the source of these lies? Who is saying this? No one I know. Of course, I still experience grief for my parents and other friends and family I have lost; fortunately it is no longer paralyzing as it sometimes was at the outset. And apparently, my circle of friends and coworkers are more sensitive and don’t spout nonsense. But I sought professional help. I feel sorry for all the people here who did not avail themselves of a grief support group, clergy, or a therapist. Each of those would counter all those beliefs. The fact is, the real lies about grieving are those from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She proposed a theory of the five stages of death and dying, which were originally the stages dying people go through. They were later adopted as the stages of grieving in general. Various myths abound that people pass through the stages in the order she describes, that people must deal with all the stages to heal, that each stage must be observed. The fact is, she just made them up whole cloth from patient interviews, mostly conducted done by her medical students. It is not evidence-based and has not been borne out to be accurate by subsequent studies. In fact, research by Dr. George Bonnano at Columbia University shows that people are more resilient than is assumed, They also have a Center for Complicated Grief led by Dr. M. Katherine Shear to help people whose grief does not go away for a long time. Thank you for bringing exposure to this issue. I can only assume people tell these lies to themselves out of guilt, and assume they can just bootstrap themselves through grief and trauma. But no grief counselor is going to allow someone to engage in this kind of stinking thinking.
    • Kaay commented on June 29, 2014 Reply
      I am glad you have excellent support and qualified professionals that supported you in your grief. However your statement ” I feel sorry for all the people here who did not avail themselves of a grief support group, clergy, or a therapist. Each of those would counter all those beliefs.” tells me that your experience with grieving may be limited to your own experience…. it is *exactly* some of those clergy, therapists, etc who DO say such things to the grieving, and worse. I can’t speak to grief support groups as I have no experience with them, but I can speak to the clergy/therapist side of things. (And it is not a straw man argument because it is an essay from personal experience. The lies were told to her by people in her life.)
  • Abbey commented on June 30, 2014 Reply
    I cried through this whole article. Our dog has inoperable cancer and I am trying to listen to my heart and not my mind. As a therapist, this article makes more sense to me than any textbook. Thank you for making this time more precious to me.
    • Lynette Elliott commented on July 15, 2014 Reply
      Abbey, my heart goes out to you. I’m going through the same thing and I’m crying along with you. I cannot say it any better than Alison has. Just know there’s someone on the same journey who will never, ever tell you that you need to get over it or move on.
  • Tony DiStefano commented on July 14, 2014 Reply
    Thank you, Allison, for this powerful article; shared with several people dealing with grief and loss. Blessings and bliss to you on your journey.
  • Lynette Elliott commented on July 15, 2014 Reply
    Alison, you are the only one who has told me that this breathless, chest-caving, devastating, not-enough-tears-on-earth feeling of loss is all mine, and that it’s okay to feel it as long as I need to. Your words are a gift. If I could find a way to repay you tenfold, I would. I have been the victim of every single phrase you listed, but especially the “time heals all wounds.” It does not. I thought there was something wrong with me because time has passed and the wound is just as raw now, if not more so. I never asked for answers–I just wanted someone to understand why I couldn’t “get over it,” and you do. I have shared this with several people in hopes that I can somehow pay forward the sense of solace you have offered me in your writing. I can only hope to be able to somehow extend the compassion you express here to others in their journeys of loss. Thank you for saying it’s okay to be imperfect and sad as long as I need to be, even if it’s forever. I will continue to dance with a limp. At least I can say I’m dancing again…
  • Ben commented on July 19, 2014 Reply
    Your family didn’t invite me to your funeral service 5 months ago, I found out you were dead while doing a Google search. It is tragic that other human beings can be so thoughtless and uncaring. We met in Sydney, Australia more than 33 years ago and became lovers. I moved to New York and we were inseparable. You were my best friend Gary. You were so kind and patient, even towards those who didn’t possess those virtues. I have hundreds of love letters you sent me throughout the course of our lives together. I have a wardrobe full of your clothes, photographs, and other things you left behind. But more than anything, I feel your strength and goodness in me and my life since you passed, more than ever before. No-one can ever take that away even when the days feel so long and I am so weak I feel like I will fall down in a heap. I spent the last 5 months throwing myself into my work, eating good nutritious foods, and I was still incredibly unwell, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I held on by my fingertips, hoping against hope. My wounds are fresh, but they won’t stop me from being loved and loving others. Finding this webpage has been huge for me. Thanks Alison Nappi, and thank you Gary. I miss you so much. India, I loved your comments too.
    • john berry commented on April 16, 2015 Reply
      ben, i can feel your soul here dear man, having experienced something similiar. i am sorry for the cruelty that you have experienced. peace and love to you and your love for your dear one. john
      • Ben commented on July 15, 2015 Reply
        John, thank you for your reply. Here I am more than a year since my friend’s passing and I still have days and weeks where I’m consumed by grief. It’s not enough to stop me working, or loving myself and others, but it’s palpable. We had been having discussions about getting married just prior to his death. He was my best friend. I’ve thought of returning to Australia many times but I’ve made a life for myself here now You mentioned something similar happened to you. I sincerely hope you’re ok and that you are surrounded by people who love you. I was lucky enough to have a few friends who looked out for me in the early days I spent trying to comprehend everything. My life has improved, although it’s entirely different than how things were. I do have a better understanding of myself and others than I did previously. I wish you well, may life be kind to you. And thank you again for your reply, it was very simple but it lifted my spirits.
  • Debra Dylan commented on July 24, 2014 Reply
    Excellent article. Truly excellent. I bookmarked it because I know I will need it.
    • Mary Gobble commented on September 19, 2014 Reply
      Well done and thank you. I too have bookmarked this. Mostly to remind myself that I have been right in my grieving path. For every loss the path is different. I am 71 years old. Loss of elderly parents is hard but expected. Loss of my two children almost twenty years apart 28 years and 40 years has no boundries and I am sure the same goes for loss of spouses.. Thank you again.
  • Twila commented on July 25, 2014 Reply
    Thank you for writing this <3 I have had many, many losses in my life, childhood, Innocence, parents, grandparents, inlaws that I adored.. and cherished loved ones that leave this world for a better place.. The loss of my youngest son at 19 was devastating…… I keep his memory alive daily in my studio (that he sooo wanted me to start all his earthly life ) I tell everyone that leads into it or brings it up about my beautiful son and the joy and love and music he brought into the world in his short life….He is still with me here on earth as well <3 Thank you for your beautiful writings, I have been following you for quite a while now <3
  • Heidi commented on July 26, 2014 Reply
    The absolute, most heart wrenching, honest truth I have read yet on grief. I lost my beloved husband and soulmate almost two years ago now…and just as I started to be self conscious about still speaking of him and still writing on his Facebook page and still wearing my wedding rings and still loving him with all my heart; just as I started to feel that maybe I’m NOT normal, maybe I AM “overdoing” it….I know I am right where I need to be. For me. I have my glorious, joyful moments with our grandsons, and I volunteer for the charity that fights the cancer that took my beautiful husband, and I work and play and try to enjoy my time away from him, in his honor, FOR him, until I am with him again. But…there is a vein of sorrow so deep that runs through me, and I know it will always run through me…it is part of me. And I will never be the same. Nor do I want to. And I will always be Howie’s wife. <3 Thank God for that. Thank you, dear Alison…you will probably never know how many people you touch in your lifetime, but I'm hear to tell you, it's a pretty amazing gift.
  • Janet F commented on August 13, 2014 Reply
    August 12, 2014, Alison, this is the most profound thing I have ever read in my life. It speaks the truth, deep to my heart. Thank you so much for your gift of words that expresses the human experience so completely……..
  • Nechakotess commented on August 15, 2014 Reply
    Thank you for the words that express what I felt/know. A small life raft for me feeling I was the only one in the world thinking grief “shouldn’t” be “got over” was a line for a play – Hiroshima, Mon Amour”. It goes, “the pain of remembering is not as bad as the pain of forgetting.”
  • Dana commented on August 17, 2014 Reply
    Thank you so much for this. I have tears running down my face. Your words are absolutely amazing and they are just what I needed right now. You wrote everything that I am feeling.
  • Janette commented on August 29, 2014 Reply
    Just.. thank you. I somehow found this while doing a google search, and after reading the first paragraph I burst into tears. Thank you. That is all ♥
  • Ellen commented on September 2, 2014 Reply
    My beautiful 27 year old son died just over a month ago and I have been immersing myself in reading about grief and loss to help me find a path “through this”. As someone else said, ‘You nailed it”. Wonderfully written, should be required reading for anyone trying to support a person dealing with loss!Thank you.
  • Whoopster commented on September 29, 2014 Reply
    My friend and writer, Ann Keyser Sterns, says “Don’t let the magnitude of my grief rob you of your own.” Loss is personal and should never be compared to others.
  • Don Rockey commented on October 10, 2014 Reply
    i loved the piece but disagree with its content, while no one has the right to tell someone how to grieve, how long to grieve or even what to grieve, it isn’t the grief that is the issue. For me it was the work to get in touch with my grief, and the process i had to work through to come to terms with my grief. the way i read it grief has the right to hold me hostage to my feelings, to that i disagree, today i have the ability to accept my feelings, and not allow them to hold me hostage. today i can accept and forgive those feelings that keep me from moving forward, i will never forget the tragic events that caused my grief and there has been many, but i can move on with my life and live again, and not let grief hold me back .i do not have the right to tell someone how to feel but i can share with people what i did to grow through what i have lived through.
  • Deborah Donnelly commented on October 18, 2014 Reply
    Wow and thank you. I have had more losses than a lot of people and I have wondered how to say out loud that my losses have also been my gifts. I have wept and wailed, talked and written about all of them a lot. Each one felt unbearable as they happened. Simply put, I have come to understand that the pain is the price I pay for loving and who would want it any other way? Perhaps some, but not me. I have raged many times at incorrect advise on grief and also other peoples attempts to act as if a beloved person never existed, let alone died, like my 18 year old son, for instance. But I have never felt more alive at 57, after every type of loss, than I do now. I understand my process soooo much more now having read this. I am also proud of myself for immersing myself in my grief. This is because it feels to me that when I have a bottomless love relationship, as you described, that there is ME, there is the OTHER person, and then there is a third energy called ‘US’ I am not sure what happens but I sense that I have been able to opt to imbibe all or part of the ‘US’ into myself. It is also why I sometimes have these bubbles of joy, I think, because I genuinely do feel as though this process has meant that the person is living on as part of the new me, and that I have been blessed by trying to include the ‘US’ into myself. I don’t know…things change so much through grief pain, but all I can say is that I am a million times nicer and more useful to others these days and the compassion I feel for other peoples pain these days makes me feel more alive than a gazillion shopping sprees. I never realised I could be happy and sad all at the same time, as well…and that was quite a surprise, actually. Numbing my feelings previously made joy and depression feel not too far apart from one another, but living life from the perspective of the deepest sadness makes joy feel like the brightest light after being in a dark tunnel. I will re read your piece many times as you have the gift of clarity that I have been feeling but been searching to express. Thank you.
  • pami commented on October 22, 2014 Reply
    What a beautiful, amazing article. Your words brought tears to my eyes and understanding to my unsettled heart. Thank you.
  • Jonathan commented on October 22, 2014 Reply
    Someone needs to explain to people in this frame of mind that emotion is a combination of feelings that are real, and thoughts that are not. Unreal thoughts can be assembled and remembered and even controlling of our thoughts, feelings, and even a lifetime of responses. While there may be lies told to us from outside sources, there are also lies told to us by ourselves. When someone is no longer alive, they do, in fact, cease to exist, forever. Holding onto them emotionally and psychologically is not inherently a valid activity, and therefore must be done healthfully, and in measured quantity, that someone else’s death does not suck us into the grave. If you believe there is an afterlife, reincarnation and/or a destination for the dead, you must do so healthfully, and in measured quantity, so that you do not get sucked into these places, which, let’s be honest, only exist for the time being in your believing heart. Therefore no lies should taint you, nor should death pin you to any certain response, nor should anyone’s advice determine how you proceed. Knowing yourself is the first and ultimately the most extraordinary tool, and prerequisite for personal responsibility, that you can have, and you must have it, and nothing can substitute for it. Know yourself. Know yourself. Know yourself. Before you can know others, you must know yourself. Before you can understand death, you must know life. Before you can grieve, you must know joy. Before you can understand that you have an ego invested into everything, you must first discover that you have an ego. If you don’t know the countless crucial things about yourself that are required for healing, then you are a slave to both nature and the unintended influences of others. Know yourself. Make sure of it!
    • Tracy commented on December 19, 2014 Reply
      Hi Jonathan! I have read the entire thread and I don’t find ego here, moreover I am reading true unadulterated expressions of grief. The dead cannot speak, offer comfort, absolve past slights and they most certainly cannot instruct. I do not know what brought you to this blog, but I hope you find the comfort you may be seeking in your words.
  • Jonathan commented on October 23, 2014 Reply
    Many people who grieve want their grievance to be as meaningful as the life they’ve lost. What an amazing thing to witness.
  • Penn Pearson commented on October 31, 2014 Reply
    This was an absolutely wonderful piece of writing and went straight to the deepest part of my heart. My long-time girlfriend killed herself five years ago, in the apartment that we shared. I found her in her bathroom, hanging from the bar over the door into the shower part of the bathroom. Although it was almost five years ago and although I was a paratrooper in the U.S. army and am not given to emotional displays, I started crying this morning, alone in my apartment, thinking of pitiful things she had said over the years, missing her and wishing I had done what was needed to save her. I got on the Internet and found your article after Googling, “The grief over a suicide never ends”. I am so glad that I read your poetic and insightful article. It has not eased the pain, but your remarkable insight has at least made me feel less alone and less abnormal in my grief. It also has made me realize that the facile advice I have gotten should be ignored, just as I have wanted.
    • tots4sho commented on November 18, 2014 Reply
      I lost a very close friend to suicide over the holidays last year, and it is unlike any other grief I have experienced. The search for answers and for peace have been fruitless many times. I am so sorry for your loss.
  • monte commented on November 13, 2014 Reply
    thank you, so much truth here, in particular to me “Your grief is your love, turned inside-out.” rings the loudest. those attempting to help may mean well, but we follow our hearts in to love and must follow our hearts in grief. i have found for myself when the loss is do to death of the circumstance, as in the ending of a relationship rather than the death of a SO, the difference in my grief is the “haunting” I feel because that person is still present in the physical. its a different twist, a confusion, not there in my grieving for the deceased.
  • Denisa commented on November 17, 2014 Reply
    Such a benevolent look at such an unconsolable part of life. Thank you for such beauty presented here.
  • Emily commented on November 18, 2014 Reply
    This reached way deep into me. And I can see a way forward. Thank you.
  • Chris's wife commented on November 20, 2014 Reply
    It has been so long since I’ve read something that was so true to my heart that it hurt me. In the best way that something can hurt. Thank you.
  • Raquel commented on November 22, 2014 Reply
    You gave words to what my heart cannot speak. Thank you.
  • Victoria Erickson commented on November 27, 2014 Reply
    I’m sure I’ve commented above before but this is brilliantly beautiful and raw truth. I agree with every word. So much love. To you. To all.
  • Claudia commented on November 28, 2014 Reply
    Thank you Alison. Like others that have commented here, since losing the man I loved just 2 months ago I have read many books on grief and suicide, but nothing has resonated like your words…their truth is mine. I weep.
  • Linda Gray commented on November 28, 2014 Reply
    Alison, I lost my daughter 15 years ago and this is the absolute best description of grief, dealing with grief and dealing with what other people think that I have ever seen in writing. Thank you for sharing these thoughts in a most eloquent way.
  • Maria S commented on November 29, 2014 Reply
    Almost 6 years ago, the love of my life was killed in a car accident. He was 24. I went to see a traumatic bereavement specialist (who has walked this path herself), and she was the only person who made me feel like I hadn’t gone crazy. She understood me, never questioned how I felt, and never judged. When I said I felt like I was treading water in the middle of the ocean, and barely keeping my head above the water, she understood. Your words are amazing. To this day, there are those who don’t understand my reactions to other deaths, or why my view of the world is so different. I spent years trying to figure out who I was now, because I certainly wasn’t the person I was before he died. I have a friend that told me that she believes a person has 2 deaths. The first is when they take their last breath, and the second is the last time someone speaks their name. Talking about our loved ones keeps them alive, and I hope that when I talk about Joe, I am keeping his wonderful spirit alive, because the world was a much better place with him here. He made me a better person. Rose Kennedy said “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” I will forever live with my grief. Thank you so much for sharing this, and I will be sharing it with others, in the hope that they may gain a better understanding….
  • Calliek commented on December 3, 2014 Reply
    Thank you so much for this article. The guilt that I have experienced by not ‘getting over’ my mother’s death 7 years ago is such a strong force. I have lost friendships and been spoken to sternly by family members because I grieve so much. I have become so angry with myself for not acting the way I used to, or being the person I used to, that I have now become a bitter, angry person. Reading all of the comments too, has helped me to see that I can’t force anything and it is ok for the death of someone I loved more than anyone on the planet, to affect me greatly. I will never get over it. Thank you for telling me that is ok.
  • Beth commented on December 5, 2014 Reply
    Yeah, that old one: “in time” “it takes time” “it will be better with time.” Time passing, for me, was worst of all, as it took me farther away from him, where he couldn’t follow. He receded back into the past, like I was on a fast-moving train, while he stood watching from the platform. Everything about him faded away and I couldn’t stop it.
  • sharon commented on January 27, 2015 Reply
    My mother died 27 years ago and it feels like yesterday in many ways. I still find my self wanting to pick up the phone and call her even though she didn’t even have a phone. It still hurts to this day even though I got through losing her and her death was expected. I have a friend who lost her daughter 3 years ago and everyone keeps telling her it’s time to let go. I thought that myself after a year or so but then I realized it’s nothing I’ve ever had to go through and I’d probably feel just as devastated as she does. I pray daily she finds a way to “feel her way through it” while still keeping the memories of her alive. Tiffany was a beautiful and very sweet soul and I look forward to seeing her again “on the other side”.
  • Jaime commented on January 27, 2015 Reply
    I have NEVER read anything more truthful than your words. Every word is exactly how I feel over some of the losses I’ve had in life (especially my mother). So THANK YOU for making me realize I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS! Ty
  • Trudi Strasberg commented on January 27, 2015 Reply
    Excellent and very well-written article Alison, thank you. It is very aligned with the “ACT” (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) work I do with many of my psychotherapy clients, that encourages people to allow themselves to feel the whole range of normal human emotions.
  • Sheila Correia commented on February 11, 2015 Reply
    I’m speechless; finally, something, real words to express exactly how I’m feeling right now. I lost my precious dog, the sunshine of my life, a couple of weeks ago. This grief, this anguish, was a stranger to me, but it’s fast becoming a friend of mine. I miss him so; I couldn’t put the feelings, the pain, into words, but you did. Thank you…
  • Becky commented on February 14, 2015 Reply
    i just lost my husband of 41 years after a 4+ battle. I decided early on that the cancer battle wasn’t going to ruin my life and that later hi death wouldn’t ruin my life.,I feel I only have one life and I am going to live it the best way I can. I am sure there will be sad days but I would feel like I wasted my life if I succumbed to eternal grief.
  • Demma commented on March 25, 2015 Reply
    This was so re-affirming for me. My husband had passed away suddenly in his sleep while next to me at the age of 44. Which this in of it’s self was a traumatic experience. Six months after his death I had to visit my doctor. When I told her that might be one of the reasons my blood pressure was running a bit high she actually stated ” shouldn’t you be over it already!” I couldn’t believe that she would tell that to me. It’s my grief let me do it as I need to in the time I need!
  • Mushroom Montoya commented on March 31, 2015 Reply
    Death Sucks! It sucks because it brings unbearable grief. And Grief sucks because it really hurts. But grief is not totally cruel. It leaves gifts, gifts meant to be picked up when we are ready, if ever. Those gifts change us forever. Our world view shifts. I break “rules” when they don’t make sense to me. Why not! Grief gave me permission. I eat dessert first because life is unpredictable. Dust bunnies grow under the couch, or behind the dresser, because grief taught me that they don’t kill anyone and life is too short to waste time destroying dust bunnie villages, every day. Grief taught me how to sit with another grieving parent and not feel the need to “fix’ it. It is not fixable anyway. I laugh at “dark matter”. I poke fun at our son’s death, my parents’ deaths and especially my death yet to come. Death can’t hurt me more than what Grief has tortured me with already. A few weeks, after a parent (that I know) suffers the death of their own child, I visit and leave a small banner with bold letters that say, “DEATH SUCKS !!!” And then we laugh and cry and laugh and maybe cry some more. Thanks for posting this. I can relate all too well. Blessings, Mushroom Montoya, Jeremy’s Father
    • Holly commented on June 18, 2015 Reply
      I love this post. I always say ‘life sucks’ and my friends hate it but life sucks because we all die. That sucks. Why bring us to life and then kill us, I ask. Grief really changed me too. What am amazing revelation to suddenly know that it doesn’t matter what people think, that it never did, that all that really matters is the love my son and I had together and will always have and the love we feel for others is all that ever really mattered. And is the only thing that will last forever. Thanks for the great thoughts.
  • Tanya commented on April 8, 2015 Reply
    I lost my youngest daughter, Kristin, in August of last year (2014). She was only 16-months-old. Her death left a hole that cannot be fathomed. I live my life in her honor, carrying on the legacy of love she started when she was born. But, I still have days when all I want to do is cry and sleep and punch something. Your story connected with me deeply. Thank you for sharing this.
  • PepsieJabre commented on April 9, 2015 Reply
    Thank you. I only have those two words for you now.
  • Shannon commented on April 10, 2015 Reply
    I absolutely love this article. It’s beautifully written and reveals a raw truth that so many don’t want to touch. I lost my 17 year old Daughter almost two years ago. This article put into words so much that I carry in my heart. Thank you. <3
  • Muriel commented on April 13, 2015 Reply
    Thank you! Have no words to explain the feeling, but thank you so much!
  • wansley lockridge commented on April 14, 2015 Reply
    I want you to know after losing my husband of 33 yrs at age 50 to a massive widow maker heart attack…fell out of the shower…here one second gone the next…that is EXACTLY to the last word how I feel, how people treat me and just what I needed to here. What I feel is OK so they all can shove it!!!! Its my greif…it was my soulmate…my childs father and I will never get over it and no body can possibly have a clue as what I go through on a day to day basis jut trying to breath! You rock these words and I have copied this and read it iver and over …THANK YOU!
  • Missy commented on April 18, 2015 Reply
    Thank you. My mom has been gone now for almost 10yrs and it still feels like she just left yesterday. It hasn’t gotten easier, the pain has not lessened. Everyday I still struggle to not break down into tears. Thank you for not saying I need to get over it. Thank you for saying it’s ok for me to miss her just as much now as I did almost 10yrs ago. Thank you.
    • Holly commented on June 18, 2015 Reply
      I’m sorry about your mom. My heart goes out to you.
  • Cazandra commented on April 24, 2015 Reply
    this touched me to a point where i feel relief. I love this, thank you.
  • Nell Martin commented on April 27, 2015 Reply
    I am so thankful that a friend gave me your email address at Rebelle. The article on grief is the most honest, comforting article I have ever read. Thanks again
  • Linda commented on May 9, 2015 Reply
    Thank you so much. I like your pointy words. You are definitely good at it. The other day I was asked how long I’m going to grieve. I guess my answer is, how long is he going to be dead?
  • Roseanna Siemon commented on May 14, 2015 Reply
    Meeting along with your bank to require credit for your business is usually going to become a challenge even when you might have a profitable business Roseanna Siemon make sure you’re keeping track of your respective regular bills and paying each on time for at the very least six months.
  • Clark commented on June 2, 2015 Reply
    Hello I’m Mc’Clark I live in Austria, I’m a well known business man, I was losing on my business, and i kept asking my self why,i don’t Win contracts Anymore, The last contract i won was in the year 2008. Each time i go for a contract negotiation i don’t win, when i told my friend Collins about this he laughed and he told me about Dr Lucas is a great spell caster, he gave me his contact and i contacted him, when i told Dr Lucas all my problems he laughed and said God can do it, He Told me to just have faith and believe that there is nothing God can’t do, He said in 7 days time things will start turning around for your Good.. I did not believe him until i was called for a contract negotiation In Thailand, i bought my ticket and i went there, when the contract Negotiation was going on, All eyes was on me, after the negotiation when the news came i won the contract in Jacksonville Florida, I was very happy, Dr Lucas is a real spell caster, This year Feb 2 i was having issues with my wife, she said she will leave me, and she left me and went back to her parents, i tried all my best to bring her back to my house but she refused, i contacted Dr Lucas again and he said he will do that for me, I believe him and after 12 days my wife came back to me and said she was sorry that she never know what came upon her, I want to Thank Dr Lucas again for all the help, he is a real spell caster, In case you want to contact him, here is his Email Address dr.lucas71@yahoo.com. He told me not to Disclose his Phone Number so contact him on his email if you have any *Marriage Problem *Business problems *Health issues *Family Problems *work Problems *Setback Problems…. If you have been scammed he can get those scammers and exposed them.. He is So Real…
  • Karen commented on July 12, 2015 Reply
    This article was right on for me. I have really struggled. Some of the responses bother me though. We don’t need to compare our grief to reach other. We are all different people with different experiences and relationships. Grief is grief, and it’s hard. I have experienced many deaths, but the three that impacted me the most were the stillbirth of my only daughter, followed by the two year illness of my husband resulting in his death only three years after her, and the sudden death of my oldest son the day after he turned thirty three two years ago after being struck by a drunk hit and run driver. These deaths have all been equally devastating to me–different, but just as bad as each other. This may not be true for everyone who has had these losses, and that’s okay, but it is true for me. People sometimes act almost insulted when I say the loss of my husband was just as bad as losing my children, or that the loss of my daughter was as bad as losing my son or husband. Why can’t we all just accept that we are different and accept the grief of others as just as hard as our own without making comparisons. This article was very accurate for me. It’s hard to find words that really express the reality of deeply profound losses, and this article did a great job.
  • Lisa commented on July 16, 2015 Reply
    Thank you for putting into words what I have not been able to for 51 years. My grief hides within layers of fat that no longer serves me. My loss of self as a child, adolescent, young adult and middle aged woman causes such intense self loathing, that when outside grief happens, it cuts like a double edged blade…within and without…deep and abiding. Grief is personal, yet sharing allows others to see and feel not alone.
  • Stephen David Blair Richardson commented on August 15, 2015 Reply
    Most excellent my soul does speak my heart but does weep.
  • Jessy Serrano commented on August 15, 2015 Reply
    I can’t thank you enough for writing this! On May 4, 2015, I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant when I had my stillborn son. My father passed away on May 3, 2007. I had a healthy pregnancy and my healthy father died from colon cancer within five months of being diagnosed. When my father passed, I wasn’t able to grieve the way I believed I should have and it was very damaging. So bad that I have major anxiety about being around people due to fear of hurtful things they think are helpful. I just set up a page on facebook to give a platform for grieving parents and allow them to say what they feel with no judgement.
  • Dave Mullin commented on August 25, 2015 Reply
    God It seems so easy to breakdown crying…I do believe I had 4 or 5 days when I hadn’t spent a couple of hours a day crying after loosing my best friend…my very kind and loving son..4 months ago in an accident at age 25….He was my life… my future and for the most part my reason for being…I built my life and future around him and for him to carry on and enjoy the fruits of the labours from generations past….We lived together with our 4 large breed dogs…we looked alike..spoke alike..thought and loved alike…..our hobbies and things we enjoyed were all on the same page. As you had written above….A huge part of me…perhaps all of me… died with my loving son that fateful night in April 2015…we lived together..worked together..played together and our four giant breed dogs I’m sure loved my energetic son more than they did me…we struggled with his serious drug addiction for 8 years which was a trip through Hell to say the least but better times were appearing on the horizon threw his commitment for change…..I had dealt with the loss of My Loving Parents when I was in my late 20’s as well as several beautiful Newfoundland dogs over the years but their was no grief that could remotely compare to loosing the son I had worked tirelessly to set up a productive comfortable future to carry on for me long after I was gone…Now I am alone with my dogs….perhaps they are the reason I am still here however as smart and empathetic pets can be when they respond to my grief Its not the same as have a loving human being to hold tight and share the grief …..This is a Hell that in the back of my mind I knew could be a possibility while dealing with his addiction but I had no idea what Hell was until my sons death and I landed right in the center…..If there is a good that comes from this I would say It enables me to somewhat understand the grief others in a similar situation are going through which was an impossible task prior. Thank you for your devotion to your most helpful writings that I was able to benefit from thanks to these marvelous things they call computers.. Dave
  • Elizabeth commented on August 30, 2015 Reply
    Words I absolutely needed to read! Thank you so incredibly much for being the calm in my storm today. The love of my life, whom I loved like no other & who loved me like no other, died unexpectedly in his sleep 4 months ago (Diabetes type 1). One of his greatest fears was me waking up next to a dead husband some morning. That foretelling fear prevented him from marrying me, which led me to breakup with him a year & 1/2 later for some months. Before the breakup, he refused to change his mind, grasping those words of fear, clutching on to them as though he was saving my soul from gnashing angst! Finally, whether he changed his mind or simply just caved (we’ll never know), he decided he’d rather be with me than without and we reconnected just 3 months before he died. During our off months, I eventually dated someone else and he would often ask, “are you still dating that guy?” and when I finally said no, he was willingly prepared to give me his heart. I was so excited and hopeful…. And just 5 days before he was to make us “official”, he exhaled his last breath. 1st I was angry at God… Still am. Then I was angry at myself…still working on that (“I should’ve been more patient.. He would’ve come around “… &” maybe he’d still be here had I been with him”)… And finally, I was angry at him… Sorta still dealing with that. He robbed me of being the 1st to say goodbye… The 1st to kiss his chilled cheeks and forehead… The 1st to weep at his side. At one time he thought he was saving my soul but in reality, he cheated it. I love him for trying to protect me. And I’m mad as hell that he took what could’ve been some of the most cherished moments away. Sadly, I’ve experience death too many times. Ten years ago my mom died & I honestly didn’t believe ANY death could top the brokenness I felt when she passed. A year & 1/2 ago, the man who helped raise me died unexpectedly; 100’s of miles away, completely unrelated, my youngest sister also died in her sleep, on the same day. Losing my sister was almost as hard to cope with as losing my mom (my mom & I were extremely close). Fast forward to less than 4 months ago, I lost the love of my life & the brokenness I feel is like none I’ve ever felt. Moving forward with the other losses, though difficult, came. This time around, THIS loss…. I’m simply stuck. My soul has been ripped, battered, shredded, and comatose. My friends think “it’s time”…to start trying… To get off the couch… To maybe spend less time with his mom, dad, brother, friends.. Less time at his house… Find ways to deal with coming across people with diabetes (I work in the medical field)… & to get up off the couch.” it’s time “, they say… Yet not one of them have experienced anything similar. My response: if I knew how, I would.” it’s time”…tell me, define TIME.

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