Key Takeaways

    • There is no timeline or method for dealing with any loss. We simply learn to live with it. 
    • Don’t hold the grief in and take your time. 
    • Good grief is how we navigate the toughest and most challenging parts of our lives and do the best we can.
Is there such a thing as good grief?

You may feel so alone and wonder why you have been given this cross to bear. In general, people tend to surround and support a grieving person in the immediate period after their loss. After some time, well-wishers may continue to live their lives with the hope that it will get better for us as time goes on. However, loss is not a flu that somehow will get better with time. Losing a close family member doesn’t work like that. There is no timeline or method for dealing with any loss because the death of our children or loved ones is something we simply learn to live with.

It’s almost akin to thinking that if we sit in a chair staring at a flat tire long enough, it will simply reinflate itself— as if time does anything. It’s what we do with that time that matters. Take your time and use it to practice self-care. Don’t hold the grief in.   

My son’s death has changed us forever. Our lives revolved around him; he was our center. A lot of people and friends have disappointed us. They abandoned the friendships that we once had. I even received the following mindless message from a “good” friend who said: “I can’t be your friend anymore because losing him is too painful for me!” Fortunately, we have gained new friends who were once strangers and maintained many old friendships. We are grateful for those who have chosen to walk by our side, show up, and listen when we need them the most. You can’t change people, but you can change how you protect yourself.

We cycle through the days, months, holidays, and milestones and hold each memory of joy close to our hearts. This will continue for a lifetime and will repeat, day after day and month after month.

Family insight: “Grief is the natural and normal reaction to a loss—an end in a familiar pattern or behavior. Grief is unique and emotional. Grief is neither a pathological condition nor a personality disorder. You can’t compare or compete. Everyone handles grief in their unique way. There is no timeline or method for dealing with grief or loss.”  

Grief does not just occur in the aftermath of a death. It can surface from a divorce, finances, pet loss, moving, change in job, or other life changes. Good grief is how we move through the toughest, most challenging parts of our life. How do we nurture loss and then accept the loss without having it paralyze us? Grief is us.

When speaking to someone who has experienced a loss


    • “Stay strong.”
    • At least they did not suffer.”
    • They led a good life.”
    • They are in a better place.”
    • Keep busy.”
    • Be grateful you had them for so long.”
    • Don’t feel bad.”
    • “Replace the loss.


    • “Do you want to talk about your significant emotional loss?”
    • “What was your relationship like?”
    • “I can’t imagine how painful, devastating…”
    • Be empathetic.
    • “I can’t imagine how you feel.”
    • “It’s okay if you enjoy talking about your child.”
    • Don’t always talk; just listen.

Simple DON’Ts when talking with kids about grief or loss:

    • “Don’t feel scared.”
    • “Don’t feel sad.”
    • “Be strong for your parents.”
    • “How are you feeling?”
    • Do not compare their lives to others.
    • Do not make promises you can’t keep.
    • Never forget, they are very smart.
What does recovery look like? The light at the end of a long tunnel
    •  Finding new meaning for living without fear.
    • Talking about your feelings without fear.
    • Using skills of resilience that have been taught to us as children.
    • Being open-minded, willing, and courageous.
    • Enjoying fond memories without turning the moment into pain.
    • Being okay with feeling sad from time to time.
    • Never getting over an emotional loss, but learning to survive despite it.

Family insight: “We all carry something in our backpacks that others can’t see. Good grief is how we navigate the toughest and most challenging parts of our life. Grief is us. Good grief is everyone who wants more, a better way to live when the worst thing has happened. I encourage you to take good care of yourself. Use your voice. Don’t hold it in. Don’t wait for the explosion. Do the best that you can.”

Mourning is the price we must pay for having the courage to love others.  Even in grief, we know that the wonder of human life is too complex and magnificent to be memorialized in endless pain. 

The gifts that our loved ones gave us cannot be measured or weighed, nor can they be lost or even tarnished by time. Even in our darkest hours, we know that some of their light and warmth will always be with us, bringing comfort and courage, and in the fullness of time, healing, and peace. 

The benefit of joining Heartsight and opening the door to my story is that it will welcome in people in need. It will make it very hard to control how far my ripple effect will travel to help others. To continue having a fulfilling life without my son – who always had world and inner peace on his mind – seems like a daunting task. However, authenticity and empathy are the keys to creating a more compassionate, accepting, and peaceful world. So, I have shared my experiences honestly, which will unequivocally help others as they embark on their fearless transformational journeys, reinforcing that they are not alone. Every day is a day of thanks-giving.

We are all kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold and lacquer. It’s the philosophy that something broken can be remade into something even more beautiful.

Thank you to our contributors

Susan Toler Carr

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