Maybe this will Help - What I know about Grief and Support

I wish I had better guidance to give people early on when they tried to help me.

People were making heartfelt efforts to comfort me 
- most armed without experience.

Two years later, these helpers have almost all disappeared. 
And, I understand. 
People have lives of their own 
to live.

I understand.
I understand that they simply can not understand my life.

I recognize that visiting me, while I sift through the wreckage of what was, is not overly enticing. 
Truth be told, I don’t want to live here among the debris of my old life either. 
I understand their absence.
I understand the difficult position we are all in.

I know that those who have not lost their Soul’s mate can not possibly know what to say to me.
In the beginning of this mess, I was not adequately equipped to educate anyone about what they should and could do. 
I apologize. 
I wish I could have helped you help me.

I want to thank you for being with me when I was brought to my knees.
I know that you did not know what to do.
I didn’t know what to do either.
But, I know that both of us had the best of intentions.


When Mike died I was not given a manual to follow.  There were no instructions.  No roadmap has been created for grief because it takes us along different paths.  Yes, there are shared attractions and similar views along the way, but the road we travel is unique for all of us.  When your spouse dies, you must go where you have not gone before.  You are forced onto a road that is not well marked.  There are countless ruts along the way.  Some parts are bumpy and make for difficult travel.  Other times, the road is smooth and there is blue sky overhead.  Then, around the corner, the sky turns dark and it becomes hard to see where you are going.  During these stretches, you may bump into things.  On this journey, you will become lost.  It's unavoidable.  Along the way, you will be re-routed and sometimes you will travel down dead ends.  And, through it all, you will learn.  You will learn to rely on your instincts.  You will learn to believe in yourself - in a way you never have before.  Solo travel isn't easy, but it changes you in a lot of good ways.

At the start, even if I possessed all this knowledge about grief, I still would not have been able to teach you how to better handle me.  Widowhood has to be lived to be understood.  In the days and months following his death, I was completely disoriented.  I was unable to guide you as you tried to help me.  I wish I could have succinctly told what I needed.  And, really, the only thing I needed was him.  I needed him not to die.  But, he did.  And, his death is permanent.  There is nothing anyone can do to make this better for me.  It is what it is.

As the days turned into months, I learned to sit still in the horrific aching.  I learned to lean into the ugliness of it.  I learned to cry until I gasped for breath.  I learned to pick myself up from the floor after I thought I would die from missing him.  I learned that Grief is presumptuous and demands attention.  And, I have learned to give Grief the attention it screams for.

Grief is brazen, dauntless and in your face.  Grief pronounces everything in heavy, smashed strokes.  Grief threw me into an out of body experience.  And, I've learned that Grief rarely shows any mercy.  Grief deprived me of many things I once took for granted.
I had to relearn basic things like breath and sleep. 
For many months both eluded me. 
Sometimes they still do.

Early on I could not communicate without confusion. 
I could hear conversations around me, but the words did not make any sense to me because I had begun speaking in another dialect.

My heart was learning the language of grief. 
I am now fluent in it.

With time, many people have drifted away from me because we no longer speak the same language.
I understand. 
There is nothing that needs to be said.

For the past two years I have been physically present, 
but my mind is far away from here.
I have been unravelled.
I have come undone at the seams of my Soul.

Mike’s death has affected me to the depths of my psyche.
But, thankfully, with time, 
I am making a slow, steady comeback. 
In truth, comeback isn’t the correct word.

Death is a trauma. 
And, after outliving your spouse,
You do not and can not come back to who you once were.
There is no returning.

I can not come back to what was. 
Whatever “it” was, 
It is all over.
I apologize if this sounds overly dramatic to ears that have not lived in the silence 
I have existed in for nearly two years.
None of what I am saying is intended to be dramatic, 
it is just the truth.

I am forever changed because he died. 
But, even more, 
I am a better woman because he lived.

Slowly, I am finding ways to adapt to my changed life.
Daily, I drape myself in Hope.
I want to do more than survive his death. 
I want to live a full, happy life 
- somehow.

Since Mike died I have spent hours lost in my thoughts.
I continually revisit the past.
I endlessly mourn the future we imagined.
And, I desperately hope to become present in the moment.

As surreal as it remains,
I know that he does not exist here anymore.
And, therefore,
I accept that I must begin anew.

Mike’s death has forced me to be reborn.
And, though a piece of me will always wish for the life we shared and planned,
I am grateful for my chance at a new life.

Gratitude for what was, 
And, what will be, 
Has allowed me to survive without him.

My simple message below is intended to help everyone involved in this mess.
I only wish I had these words for you earlier when we both stood before grief without any guidance.


Dear Helpers,

Please handle me tenderly.

Your presence is more than enough.
I treasure it.
I will never forget the time you selflessly give to me.

You do not need to know what to say. 
Your warm hug is more powerful than words.

Wrap me in your love.
Hold me tightly because he can not.
Put your arms around me and let my tears soak your shoulder.

And, please come back
to see me,
And, again, 
let me break in your presence 
- if you can.

And, yes, 
Even after all this time,
I am shattered. 
Most days I see the world through hot, warm tears.

Please, let me cry. 
Please know that my tears take the aching from inside me. 
And, once outside of me 
My sadness loses some of its potency.

My tears bathe me in Hope.

Please stand watch
so I do not drown in my tears
-before grace can lift me.

Please know that you do not need to try to fix this for me.
This is not fixable.

My Grief is a natural response to his death.
His death is a trauma that has changed me profoundly. 
And, change is part of life.

Be present
-in his absence.

Let me speak about him.
Let my eyes meet yours.
Stay still in this moment with me.

Bear witness to me breaking.
Acknowledge my brokenness.
Please accept the awfulness of his death with me.
And, if you can, 
hold a mirror up to me so I can see my own rising.

Please be strong for me because I am exhausted. 
I am tired of being strong.

Please do not tell me 
not to cry.
Please don’t tell me he’d want me to be happy.

Just let me miss him.
Let me miss him
to the depths of me, 
then further.

witness my grief. 
(If you can.)

Please love me,
in honor of him.
And, know with certainty that he is so grateful for the love you give to me.
I can’t thank you enough for loving me when the man I love is not here to do this for himself.

~With Love,

Every Grieving Heart everywhere.

Showing 17 reactions

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  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-11-11 12:01:01 -0800
    Thank you for your heartfelt comment.
    Best to you, ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-11-11 12:00:07 -0800
    Bern, Thank you and I’m sorry that you understand my feelings. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-11-11 11:58:51 -0800
    Grace, I am so glad to have connected with you. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-11-11 11:57:49 -0800
    Thank you Carina. ~S.
  • Elisa McCoy
    commented 2018-11-09 06:29:45 -0800
    All if this resonates with me!! So much of this I could have written about myself. Wow! Time doesn’t heal the grief but it helps. My dear Michael died 5 years ago on June 2. We we married for 30 years. I had family and great friends who experienced the widow’s journey before me, and they knew exactly what to do—be present, let me cry, let me do this in a way that I feel is okay, let me know there is no right or wrong way to grieve, etc. They were my angels!! And I didn’t frighten them away because they understood. Because my story isn’t over yet, I am once again experiencing joy in my life one day at a time and with a grateful heart. Truth…my love for Michael lives on.
    Thanks again for sharing this important message to Our Helpers.

  • Linda Oesterle
    commented 2018-11-08 06:39:40 -0800
    Thank you for this message Staci. My husband left this earth 1 yr and 8 mos ago and I miss him every day. Those who were our friends have somehow disappeared over the months, and it leaves me with a sadness of what we had. I have not yet been able to let go of the past and what we were planning for our future. But your message has brought some understanding to those of us who are living this new life that we would rather not have. Somehow we’ll all make a new beginning…….
  • Bern Harrod-McGee
    commented 2018-11-07 03:48:32 -0800
    Thank you Staci, my Husband died 1 year ago today and you described
    All of my feelings. Sorry for your loss. 🖤
  • Grace Sergeant
    commented 2018-11-07 00:13:50 -0800
  • carina allen
    commented 2018-11-06 19:42:40 -0800
    Thank You for writing this article. I like the statement you’ve made.

    I am forever changed because he died.
    But, even more, I am a better woman because he lived.

    I feel the same way about my Husband William who recently passed away
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-10-19 09:09:27 -0700
    Thank you. I enjoyed writing this blog and I am glad that you found it.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-10-19 09:08:40 -0700
    Mary, I am glad that this is helpful to you and your family.
    Best to you, ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-10-19 09:07:54 -0700
    Don I agree that grief can be very isolating. Most people who are not grieving simply can not understand our lives.

    Try to connect to those people who can become your Helpers. People who fill your heart. Best to you, ~S.
  • Jane Santa Hess
    commented 2018-10-17 17:21:51 -0700
    So well said, especially the Dear Helpers. Simple and honest.
  • Mary Monseur
    commented 2018-10-17 05:50:34 -0700
    Thank you. My sister in law has asked me what would help. I have never had an answer because at 4 months the answer really is nothing. I will share this with her.
  • Don Yacona
    commented 2018-10-16 12:05:44 -0700
    WONDERFUL! Very well put. I’d settle for a phone call from family once in a while where they AREN’T thinking I’m ready to walk in front of a bus. An invite for a cup of coffee would be nice too. I guess I’m asking too much.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-10-15 09:33:33 -0700
    Thank you Suzanne,
    I say bravo to all of us who are fighting forward and striving to live without our beloved ones.
    Best to you, to us all.
  • Suzanne Hanna
    commented 2018-10-15 05:14:13 -0700
    Bravo, my dear. Every word. Xx