Life After Loss: Writing Through Grief

Alhough it’s been eight years, my mother’s death remains one of the biggest turning points of my life.

mom and me

Almost immediately afterward, everything became filtered through a new distorted lens. I felt like a book that had been torn in half. There was part 1, all that had occurred before my mom’s death, and part 2, what came after.

I remember feeling so raw and exposed that summer. My heart felt like it had been scooped out of my chest. I dragged myself through the days in a strange kind of stupor. Nothing looked or sounded quite right. People were too loud, too happy, too eager to offer advice about my grief.

One well meaning friend kept insisting I see a blockbuster comedy that opened that summer. It’s so hilarious, she said, it will make you laugh. But what she didn’t understand was I didn’t want to laugh. I wanted to hunker down inside my grief. I wanted to feel every stab of pain and every searing ache. Funny movies and even most fiction felt frivolous and unimportant. I turned to poetry when I couldn’t bear prose. I made scrapbooks and photo albums. I cried, a lot.

Grief was my work, and I stepped into it willingly. Not because I thought it was the right thing to do, but because it was the only thing I could do.

Recently, my friend Claire over at The Gift of Writing asked me to write a post about grief. I focused on how journaling connected me to my mother and helped serve as a conduit for my pain, both before and after her death.

Writing was the one thing I could do anytime, anywhere. It was where I could be completely honest about how I felt, with no one pitying or judging my process.

Please stop by if the topic resonates. I’d love to know what you think.

gift of writing




10 thoughts on “Life After Loss: Writing Through Grief

  1. Hi Dana,

    My Mum died 8 years ago this September so yes, the topic resonates. I remember well meaning friends trying to stop me talking about what had happened, but I needed to talk to make sense of it. She wasn’t sick, she was here… Then she wasn’t. It took years to accept it. Grief never really goes away, does it? It still creeps up on me when I’m not expecting it. I wrote a poem recently (in the blog I’ve linked to here), ‘Puddles’, on the subject. It might resonate. Thanks for sharing. X


    • Rachel, we’re on the same timeline it seems. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. I felt such a similar disconnect after my mom died – as in, how could this woman who I loved and was so close to, suddenly be gone, her body gone, utterly disappeared from my life? It was almost incomprehensible.

      I completely agree that it never ends and pops up when I least expect it. The poem you wrote is so beautiful and true. I’m linking to it here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My dad passed just a year ago but I often can’t believe life is moving on without him. The past year has been a whirlwind with his passing and finding assisted living for my mom. Still looking for my new normal…and taking care of me in the process.


    • Elizabeth, I’m so sorry about your dad. A year is so soon, and the pain extremely raw. I wish you luck in finding a home for your mom, and I’m glad to hear you’re also taking care of yourself. “Still looking for my new normal” is really how it feels.


  3. Eight years ago I lost my son Levi in a tragic car accident. he was only 20. I was a single parent after my husband died after a long battle with his disease. Life has changed,but we keep moving forward and healing daily. I live life to the fullest and remember a life not so long ago when my house was full of life. Now, i write and published my first book about my struggles in life. Thank you for writing your post. You are encouraging to so many.


    • I’m so very sorry about your son, Levi. Losing a son like that must have been devastating. It sounds like you have made incredible healing strides in your life, despite so many obstacles. Congratulations on publishing your book! Feel free to share a link to it in the comments section. I will look for it on your blog. Thank you for reading and for your kind words.


  4. My Dad died a few weeks ago and I’m still numb. I was very close to him all my life and his loss still feels unreal. I can’t imagine getting to an 8 year anniversary of never seeing him again. Full grief has not hit yet, but I know its coming.


    • Laurie, I’m so sorry about your dad. I was very close with my mother so I know how raw and ragged that kind of loss can be. It truly feels unreal. The early days and months are full of tidal waves of emotion. I remember feeling as though I kept on getting hit, my breath knocked out of me. Grief will unravel in you, over and over, in different ways. Take one day at a time, one hour, if that helps. My thoughts are with you.


  5. Going now. These words? “Grief was my work, and I stepped into it willingly.” I have not lost a parent, but I have lost people, and that sentence, oh my heart. Love to you and peace in embracing your grief.


    • Oh Kristi, the moment I read the words in this comment and the one on my post, my heart broke for you. It’s so hard to mourn a loss alongside those who may be degrees closer to the deceased. But your grief is still so valid and real. Yet, how respectful and kind of you to try to honor their depth. Find those who can help you through your grief, even belatedly.


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