Trying To Understand Grief

My husband died in January. My youngest daughter is 14 and really struggling with the grieving process. My Friend, I Care, put everything into perspective for her, simply and succinctly. It helped her understand the process better and understand her feelings, ALL of them, are normal and part of a process everyone goes through. 

I am touched by this email in that we just don’t understand grieving. How can we help our children when we don’t understand it ourselves? 

Grief is whole bunch of normal emotions rolled up into a package we call grieving. It isn’t new emotions. It is our emotions. It is how we have handled everything in our life so far only exaggerated, increased, more pronounced.

Grief is anger. I am angry that my loved one has died.

Grief is loneliness. I am lonely in that I have lost a part of my living relationship. I am lonely because I don’t have the energy to reach out to others, to make conversation, to feel, to interact.

Grief is sadness. I am so sad. I am overwhelmed with a sadness I have not felt before. 

Grief is wordless. I don’t have words to explain, words to tell how I feel.

Grief is confusion. What is happening? Why can’t I think? Why do I feel so heavy, so tired, so awful, so so so?

Grief is questions. How could this have happened? Why did this happen—to me? What do I do now? What do I do forever? How do I live without—?

Grief is selfish. I’m sad. I’m alone. I’m angry. I’m confused. Most of us have a belief system that says when a person is dead they are in a better place. Even with no afterlife belief death brings an end to suffering and pain SO our pain, our thoughts, our feelings are about us, our misery, our loss. 

Grief doesn’t go away. We learn to live with it. It becomes a part of who we are just as the person that has died is a part of who we are. 

The intensity of grief gradually fades. The sharp screaming voice of sadness gradually fades into a softer whisper. Events (holidays, family gathering) increase the volume of the whisper as does just a trip down memory lane or seeing a favorite food or smell, or picture—-all awaken the pain of loss we carry with us forever—-that is grief. 

What do we need to teach our children? Grieving is very much a part of living because everybody dies someday. Our job as parents is to give our children tools for living. Understanding grief is one of those tools—-a very important tool.

Something More... about Trying To Understand Grief 

You may order our grief booklet, My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience to help your family process your feelings. If you have questions or guilt feelings about how your loved one died your grief can become complicated. You may need to read our booklets, GONE FROM MY SIGHT, The Dying Process and THE ELEVENTH HOUR: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death.  Understanding the normal, natural dying process greatly helps the grief journey.


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Hi Jan, thank you for sharing how you lived your grief. Blessings to you! Barbara

Jan Karel

For me, grief felt like intense sadness and pain, wrapped together with every single emotion I’d ever felt in my entire life—all at the same time. I thought it was terrible to be completely alone after I lost my husband, but it turned out to be a blessing. I didn’t have to be polite or “normal” because other people were around. I could express any emotion I was feeling whenever I felt like it. Or I could just sit and stare out the window if I wanted to. I think that helped me to start to work through the grief faster.

Judy Brennan

What a great article, Barbara. When we were going through this time, I used gone From my Sight. Excellent resource. It took a long while to adjust to my sadness and grief for my daughter’s passing. It’s been almost 3 years now. Still miss her terribly and talk to her almost daily. It’s all an adjustment – a sad one. But I am getting through it. Thanks for being so wonderful.


Ms.Karnes speaks truth about grieving.Lost my wife last year, I tell her don’t go too far ahead,I am right behind you

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