Things I wish I’d known about grief

I wasn’t sure if I was going to post anything today or not but I thought why not, it will likely be the last post on my Mam and I thought this one might be more positive and help others.

Sorry, I have missed the odd post this last 2 weeks but I have been very busy with tour guiding a wonderful family in and around London for 10 days.   I can’t take credit for the words that follow as they were originally posted here.


Be that as it may, I’d still rather have my Mam in my house.

1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly.

2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day.  When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day.

3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling.

It doesn't get better

Very true

4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to laugh, too. Don’t feel guilty for feeling positive emotions even when dealing with loss.

5. Take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Eat healthily. Work out. Do the things you love. Remember that you are still living.

6. Don’t shut people out. Don’t cut yourself off from relationships. You will hurt yourself and others.


I always think it isn’t the last year that is the problem but the next 30-50.

7. No one will respond perfectly to your grief. People–even people you love–will let you down. Friends you thought would be there won’t be there, and people you hardly know will reach out. Be prepared to give others grace. Be prepared to work through hurt and forgiveness at others’ reactions.

8. God will be there for you perfectly. He will never, ever let you down. He will let you scream, cry, and question. Throw all your emotions at Him. He is near to the brokenhearted.


I remember when I was little my mother used to read Winnie the Pooh to me as it was too advanced for me to read by myself.

9. Take time to truly remember the person you lost. Write about him or her, go back to all your memories with them, truly soak in all the good times you had with that person. It will help.

10. Facing the grief is better than running. Don’t hide from the pain. If you do, it will fester and grow and consume you.

11. You will ask “Why?” more times than you thought possible, but you may never get an answer. What helps is asking, “How? How can I live life more fully to honor my loved one? How can I love better, how can I embrace others, how can I change and grow because of this?” 

No one said it was easy

From “The Scientist” by Coldplay. Other sad songs on todays play list include the Lily Allen version of “Somewhere only we know” and Jonny Cash singing “Hurt”… everyone I know, goes away in the end and Mam’s favourite from the 70’s and 80’s Barry Manilow “I can’t smile without you” is a distinct possibility too.

12. You will try to escape grief by getting busy, busy, busy. You will think that if you don’t think about it, it’ll just go away. This isn’t really true. Take time to process and heal.

13. Liquor, sex, drugs, hobbies, work, relationships, etc., will not take the pain away. If you are using anything to try and numb the pain, it will make things worse in the long run. Seek help if you’re dealing with the sorrow in unhealthy ways.


Knowing my mam, she would prefer something she could eat, maybe a Cheese and Onion pasty.

14. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need people. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.

15. Grief can be beautiful and deep and profound. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk alongside it. You may be surprised at what grief can teach you.

Mothers Day Card

Bring typically organised, I bought 2 Mothers Day cards last March little knowing that with the UK Mothers Day this Sunday, I’d have no mother to send it to. Any ideas of what I should do with it?

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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30 Responses to Things I wish I’d known about grief

  1. Really amazing description 🙂


  2. That was a lovely blog Stephen. I will place it in my ‘keeping’ folder and will refer to it.
    My dog, now 15, has bouts of arthritis and I fear for the end but having your blog to read at the end of her life, I know will help me.
    Thank you.


    • Thank-you Mary. That is such a cool idea to have a ‘keeping’ folder. I do get quite a few people who come back to my blog from google who type in my specific blog posts which I guess is the same thing.

      I still remember my dog, Ben. He lived until he was 15 or 16 and think of him often. I have his ashes behind the sofa by the radiator where he would have liked to sleep anyway as he always liked the fireplace or radiators!


  3. mycroft212b says:

    Dear Stephen,
    I lost the light of my life 4 years ago when my wife died in my arms, so I do know pretty much how you are feeling. You are right though in that many friends just don’t know how to deal with your grief. They sometimes need time, just as you do. I hope you reach a stage eventually when you can think of her with a smile, rather than always being sad.

    Perhaps you have a friend or relative who has had a child in the past year, and I feel they might be delighted to receive an additional ‘First Mothers’ Day’ card from you, with or without a suitably worded explanation.


    • Hi there,
      thank-you for your heartfelt comments. I’m so sorry to hear about your wife, how awful.

      I think you are right about friends and people in general. In this fast moving world, people are so used to having an event occur and then move on to the next whilst only those truly touched by a death realise it isn’t just an event but a permanent change.

      Its just occurred to me how much sense it made in the old days for people to be in “official mourning” for a year or so afterwards with no pretence that everything is ok after a week or two.

      That’s a great idea for the card, I have received many here and by email. I’ll decide which I use later today!


  4. Sherri says:

    Very touching post.


  5. Ankur Mithal says:

    Very sensitively written. I am more of the “shut myself up” type. But your post sets me thinking.


  6. Rosemarie says:

    Your mother must have been a remarkable woman in many ways. I wish I had known her. I’m going to try to send you a song on Facebook. It’s called “Anytime” from Elegies by William Finn.


  7. pepaulmier says:

    Very touching, I know how you feel, I miss my Mom too, she passed two years ago.


  8. Malla Duncan says:

    You are truly a sensitive and caring person. Thank you for this advice – it is all so relevant and I will return to it often. As for the cards – there are many old people in old age homes who never see their families and who are heartbroken in their own way for the living, not the dead. Write something beautiful in those cards and brighten their day.


    • Hello Malla, thank-you. I hoped this post would be helpful to others too.

      That is an excellent idea for the card. There is an old age home just at the end of my street!

      I hope you are having a lovely weekend.


  9. karengadient says:

    Thank you for this.


  10. merrildsmith says:

    Very good advice.
    Perhaps you could give the card to someone who has been like a mother to you?


  11. Use the card as a tribute to your mom and make a donation to a special cause that she would have supported…send the card along to the organization with your donation, in tribute.


  12. Beautifully written. I am so sorry for your loss. It will be seven years this July since my Mom passed away. I still miss her terribly, I went to grief counseling for more than a year. You do learn to cope. I often say “Hello” to her in my laundry room. Have you heard about pennies from Heaven? Pennies keep falling out of the dryer even after I’ve checked the pockets.


    • Thank-you. I have heard the phrase but only now looked into it. That is so neat.

      I am very sorry for your loss, I can quite believe that you miss your Mom after nearly seven years.

      My version of pennies in the dryer are white feathers. My Mam used to love white feathers and all through winter these quite large white feathers are appearing in my office room even though the cold weather means the windows are shut and none of my clothing or furniture has feathers in it. I always say hello to them!


  13. Ironlace says:

    My daughter (aljm2713), found your blog and reblogged your post for me to see. Twenty years ago I lost my Mom to lupus after helping my Dad care for her for her last five years. After that my Dad and I became best friends. As he continued to age my role as caregiver increased. I raised my four children with his ever watchful eye always there to help and advise. As my children grew up, they married and started families of their own. Daddy loved when they brought the babies to see him. Seven months ago, at 86, we unexpectedly lost him to gallstones and our world has forever changed. Everything in my life will always be measured by that awful day. Things are either pre-death or post. It seems like I’ll never find my new normal, but I guess I will eventually. Thank you for your post. I really really loved it. I’m so sorry for your loss and the hole it must have left in your life. Keep writing!


    • Hi Ironlace, yes I saw that your daughter had reblogged this a few days ago.

      Oh, your story is so sad but also happy too in that your Daddy played such an important role in your life and he obviously loved seeing his Great Grandchildren. It sounds like you all made the very best of a bad situation.

      Yes, I know how you feel about pre or post death. I am the same. Everything that happens is always the first time since THAT day and it seems at just the age of 40 I am already for my time to come and it puts life in a very different perspective especially when you see people as old as my mother was still enjoying having one or both parents.

      I have written other related posts around 14th March this year and 2 or 3 about a year ago at the end of March and into April 2013 if you can’t find them, I can send you links.

      Yes my mother was one of my early blogging fans and would be proud of my recent successes, she always said I got my writing from her!

      Thank-you for your lovely comment, I hope you find a happier new normal soon. If I manage it first, I will let you know!


  14. Pingback: The Very Inspiring Blogger Award | Stephen Liddell

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