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Our Grieving Experts

Dr. Therese Rando

Dr. Therese Rando

Psychologist, grief specialist and author of How to Go on...

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David Kessler

David Kessler

Journalist, author and motivational speaker

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Helen Fitzgerald

Helen Fitzgerald

Certified death educator, author and lecturer

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Lessons in Grieving

During the first 30 days of grieving the loss of a loved one, you will experience your own version of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Though this may be one of the most difficult times in your life, acknowledging your feelings and relying on support can help you face this journey and get through it, moment by moment and day by day.

Dealing with the Fog of Grieving

The death of a loved one is one of life’s biggest stressors: According to a stress scale created in 1967 by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, the death of a spouse ranks as the most stressful life event that one can experience, with the death of a close family member not far behind.

Whether the death of a loved one was sudden or expected, you may feel like you're in a fog of grieving, unable to function cognitively or remember simple things. This is a common emotional response that helps you cope with the trauma of your loss.

“In the first 30 days, people are mostly in shock—their whole world has just crashed down,” says Jane Bissler, Ph.D., a licensed professional clinical counselor and certified fellow in thanatology (the study of death and grief) in Kent, OH. “At first, people think they’re losing their minds.”

The longer your loved one was in your life, the longer this shock may last. Seniors who have lost their spouses after decades of marriage may experience that shock for quite a while. “They expect their loved one to walk through the door or call, or they might set a place for them at the table,” Bissler explains. “This is a completely normal reaction to the shock our minds are experiencing.”

For the more youthful, that shock can look a bit different. Lisa Iannucci was a 33-year-old mother of three when her husband Jeff passed away unexpectedly from stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Lisa’s world was turned upside down. Everything she thought about her life—being married, raising the children and growing old with her husband—was gone. “Nobody ever made us feel as though his surviving would be a problem,” she remembers. “So although he was sick, it still was such a shock when it happened.” Lisa moved robotically through her first 30 days of grieving, unaware and unattached to the world around her.

“You must give yourself permission to grieve,” says Ashley Davis Prend, psychotherapist and author of Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make It Meaningful. The best thing you can do to get through this fog is to accept it; face it.

Posted: 11/19/07

To christy69 -- go outside ... look around you; go to the grocery store and say "Hi" to five people; help someone else get the box off the top shelf; sit quietly in your place of worship. Do not be alone for healing doesn't happen when we are alone.

When you walk out of your house, tell your husband goodbye; and when you walk back in, tell him hello. I know this sounds crazy but it helps, it makes it hurt not quite so badly; it also pays him tribute.

May you know that you are not alone.


Three weeks ago today, I lost my beloved mother. She had a major stroke last June and my life was put on hold to take care of her. It was one of the most amazing gifts I'd ever been given by the Almighty; the opportunity to rebuild the broken bridges of my relationship with her and with my siblings; some of which I'd not even spoken to in over five years.

My siblings and I now enjoy a healthy relationship of trust and friendship and a closeness we've never known. My mother's passing was ... divine; all aspects of it were perfect, from the gift of time for me and my sons to get there, to the funeral arrangements, to just being in a position to do every aspect "right".

But now, the time has come for me to move on; to take this next week to finish my 30 days of grieving; and I was soooo relieved to read here that it is normal for people to think they are losing their minds!! I was very concerned with that as the day my beloved mother passed I was sure I dropped 100 IQ points.

I just don't know where to go, or what to do now. All aspects of my life are at a stand still. It's a good/bad position to be in as now there is nothing holding me back ... but me. I just don't know what to do. Any suggestions?? Any websites that can tell me how to figure this out?? Your help is always appreciated.


Dear Leprechauns32,

Your post was the very first one I read after visiting this website for the very first time.

I think it was a real act of the universe that this was so, as I lost my Beloved Mum to ovarian cancer almost a year ago.

The pain never really goes away, but somehow the coping mechanisms do get better. I even feel better sharing my support with you. It doesn't stop me from random bursts of tears, but I like knowing that we are not alone in this.

God bless you and your family and know that I am thinking of you and sending you Aloha!!!

  • By emilyg
  • on 5/17/09 10:03 PM EST

Im so glad I found this website. I have been having a really hard time im 30 years old. and just lost my mom who was 59 to ovarian cancer. I took care of her up until she passed on december 27 2008. I miss her so much i cant believe she is go ne. This is unbelieably painful and Im having a real hard time with it. its been 5 months now and it feels like yesterday.
your article was very touching Ive never had someone die in my life and she was the closest person to me


Dear Christyb62: There is no excuse for your husband's company not coming to your home or notifying you of his awful and untimely death. I am so sorry that you had to experience this event in such a cold hearted way. I would seek out an attorney at once as he suffered death at his place of employment. Death is never easy to experience, I have lost my mother to suicide, father to a heart attack at 81, my dog yesterday....Are there friends or relatives who can come and stay with you at this difficult time or caring neighbor to whom you can speak. I know that you probably feel like covering your head in your pillow and never live again.....Pray my dear. Ask God or your higher power to give you the strength to continue on. Use this website to pour out your heart on paper. There are many people in this world who have gone thru many heartbreaking experiences and who will help you along your journey. One step at a time, one minute at a time. I know right now you are devastated. Cry, let the tears flow. Just don't let anyone tell you to move on. Take the time YOU need to grieve. Set a realistic timetable for yourself to move on. Seek professional assistance if you think you need it, but take one day at a time. Make a space in your environment, whereever that is to devote to your husband. Maybe place a flower on a table, next to a picture, spray his favorite cologne on your pillow so you can smell him or sleep on one of his shirts. It may seem silly, but just smelling his smell will help you to cope. Do what you both loved. Take a walk, play music, meditate. And then when you are ready rejoin life. You have friends here who will help you thru this difficult time. I will pray for your healing dear. You are not alone.


My husband died on our wedding Anniversary in an industrial accident at work. It happened at 1:45pm No one c called me or came to our house! Yet when they wanted him to work over time on the week ends they ALWAYS called. I worked graveyard I had gotten up (he usually woke me at 4pm so we'd have sometime together). I turned on the 5pm news and there he was, covered up with a sheet. I'am so bitter because of the way I found out and because it was thier fault!! I NEED HELP PLEASE.


I can not keep from isolating. Any sugguestions there?


The article was very good, it helped me remember how I grieved thru many family deaths,friends death, even divorce. But what I am grieveing is my son is in Prison, a private prison, in a state 1000 miles away. I haven't seen him for 8 years, I am disabled and live on SSI. I have proof of total injustice, but have no means to pay a lawyer to present the case and time is almost up to present it. I love my son but cannot work miricles, or force family to care, My son is so abused now that he told me he hates me. My change is not change but a on going grief that my child is suffering and I have no way to stop it. I will not live until his release date , I feel a sad, agonizing, grief every day and night.

  • By vlmwab
  • on 8/21/08 3:30 AM EST

That was a very well written and helpful article, though my dad died 9/30/07, sometimes it is just like he went onto heaven yesterday! I miss him a lot;it has been especially hard for my mom, since they would have been married 60 years 10/25/07. He was just a great guy. My beloved pet cat, Cuddles died 6/25/07--both died of renal failure! I do cherish all the memories of my dad--and happy to say that I was with him when he went on to heaven and he died peacefully as well.