“Getting Better” or How Grief Lets You Grow (even when you don’t want to)

Time is hard, and time is healing.


Mom, I’ve been doing so much better.  I can talk about you and feel pride and love instead of pain. I can go out and enjoy time with friends and not feel overwhelmed with thoughts of retreating into the corner to be alone.  I can think about the future and feel good about moving forward without being afraid to go anywhere without you.   I’m healing. I’m moving. Which is so scary mom, because it’s still away from you.


I think about you in every major decision, whenever someone is in pain, whenever someone is proud of me, or I hurt, or my life changes–you are a part of my future, even if I can’t tell you about it.


Today, sitting in a coffee shop with a good friend, I think about how you would laugh with me at the barbie doll girls sitting next to me, brood with me over the rudeness I felt when someone questioned my intelligence because I’m female, and cry with me when the house I was so excited about slipped through our fingers.


And because I can still remember you and feel you, it’s like you are sharing these things with me.  I still fear that I’ll keep forgetting you, that time will erode away the strength of my sense of you.  Will I be able to remember your scent, you hugs, the details of your smile and love 30 years from now?


Time is hard…and time is healing.


Grief has a way of making you change and develop even when you don’t want to, maybe especially when you don’t want to.


I can cry now. I couldn’t for about 5 years, unless it was about losing you.


I would never wish for this, but now that it is a part of me I will not begrudge it either.


A happy memory: My 27th birthday, the last I got to share with my mom. I’m thankful to be able to look back at this and smile. We shared so much love and fun!


When I came across this list from americanhospice.org it rang true for me.  I was happy to feel that I have been healing.  I know my mom would be proud of me to know that I am growing on and growing stronger.


I hope that others can feel resonance with the progress of this list.  Maybe you feel some of these changes happening in you after you’ve felt pain or loss.  Maybe you haven’t yet, but you will.


As we all move forward through the complications of life, filled with loss and joy, I hope time can continue to bring growth.  Time is hard, but time is healing. Time is hard, but time is growth. Time is hard, but time is life–and she would want us to live it well.


You Know You Are Getting Better When…

By Helen Fitzgerald, CT

The progress through grief is so slow, and so often of a “one step forward and two steps backwards” motion, that it is difficult to see signs of improvement. The following are clues that will help you to see that you are beginning to work through your grief:

  • You are in touch with the finality of the death. You now know in your heart that your loved one is truly gone and will never return to this earth.
  • You can review both pleasant and unpleasant memories. In early grief, memories are painful because they remind you of how much you have lost. Now it feels good to remember, and you look for people to share memories with.
  • You can enjoy time alone and feel comfortable. You no longer need to have someone with you all the time or look for activities to keep you distracted.
  • You can drive somewhere by yourself without crying the whole time. Driving seems to be a place where many people cry, which can be dangerous for you and other drivers.
  • You are less sensitive to some of the comments people make. You realize that painful comments made by family or friends are made in ignorance.
  • You look forward to holidays. Once dreaded occasions can now be anticipated with excitement, perhaps through returning to old traditions or creating new ones.
  • You can reach out to help someone else in a similar situation. It is healing to be able to use your experience to help others.
  • The music you shared with the one you lost is no longer painful to hear. Now, you may even find it comforting.
  • You can sit through a church service without crying.
  • Some time passes in which you have not thought of your loved one. When this first happens, you may panic, thinking, “I am forgetting.” This is not true. You will never forget. You are giving yourself permission to go on with your life and your loved one would want you to do this.
  • You can enjoy a good joke and have a good laugh without feeling guilty.
  • Your eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns return to what they were beforehand.
  • You no longer feel tired all the time.
  • You have developed a routine or a new schedule in your daily life that does not include your loved one.
  • You can concentrate on a book or favorite television program. You can even retain information you have just read or viewed.
  • You no longer have to make daily or weekly trips to the cemetery. You now feel comfortable going once a month or only on holidays or other special occasions.
  • You can find something to be thankful for. You always knew there were good things going on in your life, but they didn’t matter much before.
  • You can establish new and healthy relationships. New friends are now part of your life and you enjoy participating in activities with them.
  • You feel confident again. You are in touch with your new identity and have a stronger sense of what you are going to do with the rest of your life.
  • You can organize and plan your future.
  • You can accept things as they are and not keep trying to return things to what they were.
  • You have patience with yourself through “grief attacks.” You know they are becoming further apart and less frightening and painful.
  • You look forward to getting up in the morning.
  • You stop to smell the flowers along the way and enjoy experiences in life that are meant to be enjoyed.
  • The vacated roles that your loved one filled in your life are now being filled by yourself or others. When a loved one dies he or she leaves many “holes” in your life. Now those holes are being filled with other people and activities, although some will remain empty. You are more at ease with these changes.
  • You can take the energy and time spent thinking about your loss and put those energies elsewhere, perhaps by helping others in similar situations or making concrete plans with your own life.

You acknowledge your new life and even discover personal growth from experiencing grief.


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)