The Emptiness of Grief

Dear Barbara, The emptiness left behind after a loved one dies. What do I do with it?

Emptiness is one of the aspects of grieving, experiencing that hole in our life and heart left by the person who has died. We know that hole must be filled with living but early in our grief experience it seems an overwhelming task just to get out of bed let alone figure out how to move forward into building a new life, and most of all a new life without the person who filled the emptiness we are now feeling.

My answer is simple yet the hardest to understand. Time. Time will fill in the emptiness. No words, no pills, not even all the activities you can find to keep doing will fill the emptiness; only time.

At first the pain and emptiness of loss is with us every waking and even sleeping moment. Over a period of months we gradually begin to see life moving around us through less pain. Life becomes less clouded by our grieving. But know we do not recover or even heal from grief. We learn how to live with it. We learn how to go on living without the person who was once so much a part of our life. That doesn’t mean we forget about them or we care less for them, we just learn how to go on living without their physical presence.

On many levels, we recognize we must figure out how to go on living with the loss in our hearts. Some of us start running, keeping so busy we can’t think or feel our loss. Some of us fight depression and lethargy as our grief becomes a heavy weight that keeps us from moving. We can rationalize, we can cry, we can be angry, we can eat too much, we can eat too little. All of these actions become our way of filling the emptiness. None of it works--we are still empty.

What to do? Be gentle with yourself. Accept the down days, strive for the better days. Don’t run too fast or walk too slow. Allow yourself to experience the feelings but gently help yourself out of them. Reach out to others (easier said than done). Cry when you need to and allow yourself to laugh and enjoy the life you still have. In the months following the death of your special person begin to think about how your life can be a tribute to the one who is gone. It isn’t how many tears that are shed that says how much we love and miss a person. Let how well you go on living say how much you love.

Emptiness is a normal, natural part of the grieving process. I also acknowledge the hollowness of words from others to “make it better.”

Something More about...  The Emptiness of Grief

You may want to read my booklet, My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience to help guide you through your bereavement. 

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The anniversary of my husbands death is approaching and I’m feeling sad and empty. He died 13 years ago. It’s very true that you never stop missing a loved one, just have to learn to live with it. I wish I could be happier, but I don’t think I ever will. My heart has a big hole in it left by his death. Don’t get me wrong, I live my life, I work, have a lovely family and grandchildren, friends and a partner of 3 years. Previous to him, I was with someone for 6 years. But they aren’t him. He was my soulmate, my best friend and we met very young and married young, grew up together and had a family. He can’t be replaced, I understand that, but I miss him so very much and I miss the life we had too. I feel sad for all the things he has missed. He would of so loved the 10 grandkids we have now, would of loved that he could teach them stuff and they would of adored him. It’s always worse this time of year as he died on 2 January and was taken to the hospice on Christmas Eve. People ask me if I’m looking forward to Christmas…… I smile and say yes…. but I hate it. Thank you for your wise and kind words. I will allow myself this sadness and these tears. Xx

Vanessa Stirling

Sometimes things about the loss of a loved one gets so fuzzy and confusing. So many questions and little answers are known. But your post brought comfort and clarity on where I’m at right now in the process of losing my only 35 year old sweet son, Joshua. He passed last June 12th, 2018 from a sickle cell fatal crises and it has been devastating to say the least. I feel guilty to move on without him. I feel at peace he’s no longer in pain but then it will sway back to wanting him physically here with me because I miss him so much. Thank you for giving me insight on this agonizing grief process of loss and guide through the process.

Stephanie Spataro

Grief is something that can last forever. Especially with love. It has been 14 years since my first love passed away and his birthday is today. Still shedding tears 14 years later. I will take your kind words and remember to take it easy today. 💔 Definitely feel that hole in my heart today.


Little Flower, I am so sorry for your loss. At a time like this there are no words to bring comfort. You might write your sister a letter. Put all of your tears, feelings and thoughts on paper. With love and confusion in your heart write about the good times, the challenging times, the guilt, the frustration, the overwhelming sadness. Put it all down on paper. Then burn the letter and release the ashes to the sky, to the wind. You might help your mother do the same. My blessings are with you and your family. Barbara


I just lost my sister to suicide, and the emptiness is so raw. The unanswered questions we will never know. why didn’t any of us see how bad it was for her. How could she. why did she. watching the pain my 93 year old mother is going through the guilt so many of us feel, the never to hear her voice again or see her vibrant smile. my heart hurts so much. trying to be strong for other family and reaching out to all her friends who loved her so much and their hurt. I just want my sister back. I know she is with the lord because he is a loving God and has found her peace and forever a sweet angel and with my dad. just getting through the day sometimes feels impossible. I know time will help and one day at a time, however sometimes it is one minute at a time.

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