Twelve Things I’ve Learned About Grieving These First Six Months

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Today marks six months since Mama went home to Jesus. I’ve learned some things about grieving in these days.

I’ve learned, with God’s grace, I’m stronger than I thought. I’ve often wondered how I would ever go on when she passed. And yet I have. I’ve continued getting up each morning. Some days, especially early on, I didn’t get much done, through the weight of emotions, but I did get up. I did keep living.

And I was surprised I was able to buy and wrap Christmas presents even while I was planning Mama’s memorial service. I actually spoke at her service, something I never thought I’d be able to do.

I’ve learned I’m also more emotional than I knew. I can go along seeming fine, and a thought or word or picture of Mama can suddenly bring tears to my eyes. I mist and leak often. I choke up when sharing stories. I’ve learned that’s okay. It’s the new normal.

I’ve learned that genuine sympathy from others is healing. Each card that we received with a personal note in it was a comfort and read multiple times. Each meal or flower or gift given out of a caring heart made a difference.

I’ve learned it’s never too late to send a card or kind word. And that it’s worth the effort to buy the card and stamp and find the address and get the card in the mail. Because whenever it comes, even months after someone passes, it will bless a grieving heart to know they and their loved one are remembered.

I’ve learned that people who show up at memorial services help carry the burden of grief, and make it lighter and more bearable for the family. There is a tangible comfort in the presence of people who care enough to show up.

I’ve learned that when people you expected don’t show up, and/or don’t express care and concern, it can add to the pain and loss. As a friend said years ago at his mom’s funeral, “You find out who cares.” And you’re surprised by some that apparently don’t.

I’ve learned that when people share memories of your loved one it is such a gift. And that when relatives drive a thousand miles and risk ice storms to be with you, it is a priceless comfort.

I’ve learned that when you start misting up at odd times, people don’t really know what to do. But they don’t have to do anything. A sympathetic look is all that’s needed.

I’ve learned that even though I prayerfully did my best for Mama, and sought advice, I still wonder at times if I did all I could, or if I should have done some things differently. “What if…” questions sometimes taunt me. I have to remind myself that we were praying for wisdom. I have to picture Mama’s peaceful smile when she passed.

I’ve learned to remember Mama in my daily blessings. I think of her when I read the Bible she and Daddy gave me, the one her signature is barely legible in, because dementia had taken a toll. I think of her when I stir up her chocolate cake recipe or smell lilacs or see petunias.

I smile and cry when I look at old photographs. I feel her love when I notice our dresses in an old photo are made with the same fabric, and realize that she sewed the mom and daughter dresses…emblems of her mama-love.

I sense Mama’s delight in babies, as I play with my own granddaughters. I feel her smiling with me as I play with their toes, sing Jesus Loves Me, hug them close, or push them in a swing. Her legacy lives on.

I’ve learned that heaven is more real and precious to me than ever. And that knowing Mama is with Jesus in paradise, with no pain or tears, is the sweetest comfort of all. And knowing that all who trust in Jesus will be together with Him for eternity, is the greatest gift of all.

I’ve learned some things about grieving in the past six months. And on the toughest days I remember what Mama said a week before she passed, “God is here. He is bigger.”  I’ve learned these words are true. And I’m thankful.







  1. Just lost Mom a week ago. What healing words….You have a true gift. I, too, am a writer and blogger. I am finding more than ever that it is so cathartic to write true feelings from the heart. We lost my father less than a year ago also. Though it’s been a rough time, (Mom had Alzheimer’s also) my brother and I have certainly seen the blessings all around us.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Karen. It has truly been therapy for me to write through this all. It’s a double blessing when others are helped through it. I’m glad to hear you have that blessing as well. I’ll have to check out your blog! May God continue to hold you in His grace. ~Cheryl

  2. I lost my mother less than a month ago, on July 30, 2018, to what they said was Alzheimer’s but I have my doubts. In any case, she was put in hospice care, as she wished, and clung to life, without food or water, for sixteen days. With the exception of mother/daughter dresses and playing with granddaughters, I have learned every single one of the things you learned in this post. I don’t know if it’s because of this rapidly changing millennial culture or if it’s because people are so self-absorbed and really don’t care, but I was particularly hurt, and then angry, at close friends who ONLY texted condolences, or worse, ONLY posted them on Facebook. The funeral was several hours away, so I understood why they didn’t show up. But they couldn’t pick up the phone and call? Even worse, upon my return, I was surprised at the lack of acknowledgement about her death, no invitations to lunch or coffee to discuss it or my condition. Essentially, I went through probably the most traumatic event in my life without the support of most of the closest people in my life. That said, there were some pleasant surprises: the childhood friend and the cousins who I barely ever see who made the sacrifice to drive eight and six hours to “be there.” I guess that’s really the sad point in all this: the realization that so many “close” family and friends didn’t think enough or were concerned enough to “be there.” Not even with a phone call.

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