Important Stuff I Wish I Had Been Told About Grief

winding road photography 1.  You don’t have to worry what others think about your grief.

Don’t let the fear of what others think about how you mourn keep you from mourning in ways that help you heal or become reconciled to your loss (accepting the new reality).  Others don’t know exactly what you are going through and may give advice that will not work for you.  Grief is the natural way humans react to the death of someone they love or are emotionally connected to.  It is what happens inside of us emotionally, mentally and spiritually after a loss.  You may feel like you are crazy, abnormal or out of control when you express your grief but that is because you are in new emotional territory.  You have never experienced anything like this loss so you will think, feel and do things you have never done before in response to a loss.  You are not crazy or abnormal or out of control.  You are simply going through the unexplored and never before experienced state of an overwhelming loss.  What keeps you healthy and healing in grief is normal and natural for you.

2.  Your grief isn’t a bad thing.

Death is always a bad thing, but the grief that results can serve a good purpose.  Emotions in grief are not bad, they just exist.  We mourners can’t control what we feel in grief.  The emotions just seem to happen.  Although the emotions (sadness, depression, anger, fear, guilt, regret, etc.) are unpleasant and often painful, they all serve a purpose.  Grief is a transition time when we move from life with the person physically present to life without the person physically present.  We still love the person and are tied to them in a relationship that is emotional and spiritual now.  We move from a relationship based on their physical present to a relationship that is based on memories.

Grief is the overflowing love you still have in your heart for the person no longer physically present.  Death doesn’t kill the relationship; it just changes it.  You still have love in your heart that needs to be expressed.  Since you can’t express it the way you did when they were physically present, the love is expressed in grief and mourning.  How you choose to express this love in grief helps you to heal and is a way of remembering and honoring your loved one.

3.  Your grief will last as long as you miss the loved one.

Grief has its own timetable.  It takes as long as it takes.  As long as you miss the loved one, you will mourn in some way.  As time passes you, your grief, and how you mourn changes.  For most mourners there will still be times when the grief seems fresh again…but those times grow shorter, decrease and become farther apart as time goes by.

4.  Your grief is unique.

No two people grieve exactly alike.  There are no stages or levels that happen in a predictable order.  There are similar experiences and emotions in all griefs, but every grief is different.  Your grief will be shaped by the unique, one of kind relationship you have with your valuable loved one.

5.  Your grief doesn’t end your life.

Although it feels like it, your life is not over after the death of your loved one.  You have entered a new stage and new reality in your life that you did not ask for or want.  There can and will be days ahead for you filled with activities, family, friends and opportunities to experience joy, peace, and fulfillment.  But it may take time and effort on your part in your work of grief to get there.

6.  Your grief connects you to your loved one.

Again, your grief is the love you express in missing your loved one.  You need to remember a valuable life and honor it with your life well lived.  Grief gives you that opportunity to heal and remember your loved one in meaningful ways.  You are not a survivor of the loved one, you can be a living memorial to the loved one.

7.  Your grief prepares you in a unique way to help others.

Along your grief journey, God will place people in your path that you can help in their grief.  Your grief experience prepares you in truly unique ways to reach out to others maybe as you wish others had reached out to you.  Remember, you are there to be a grief companion (a term title created by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado , not an instructor.  Meet the mourner where they are, learn of their grief and then give them whatever aid and support others may have passed on (or you wished had been passed on) to you.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunica Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on

Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX