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Lessons Learned from My First Year

Even though my first year of grief ended over ten years ago, I still remember it vividly. I can go back to the phone call that started it all in a second. Many of the grief lessons I learned were from the first year. Most of them, I learned from experience. I had lost both of my parents, two sisters, and several good friends, but none of those loses prepared me for losing a child.

The first lesson I learned was the pain never goes away. You have to learn to live with the pain and it becomes a part of you. When people would ask, "When are you going to be back to your old self?" or "How long are you going to grieve?", I didn't know the answer because I still was grieving. Eleven years later, I don't grieve on a daily basis, but I have my days. The pain is still there, but I've learned to live with it. I've even used it as motivation to help others through Love Never Ends and other volunteer opportunities. Learn to live with your pain. Don't isolate and die with your pain. Find something to help you live.

The second lesson I learned was the importance of having a safe place to talk about my grief. I was in the beginning stages of starting a recovery ministry at our church when Mark died. Part of the ministry was a confidential group where participants could share about any type of struggle they were going through. I spent the first year talking about my grief in that group, and it made a huge difference. Make sure you have a safe place to talk about your grief. Keeping it all inside is not a solution. It just creates a dam of emotion that will either burst or overflow. Find someone or a group you can trust and talk about your grief.

The third lesson was how important my faith was in getting me through each day. I reached out to God right after the phone call and felt Him right there with me from the time I found out what happened, through the memorial service, and throughout the first year. My faith kept me on a firm foundation that held me up, and kept me moving forward to work through my grief, and to try to find meaning. I don't know what you believe, but I hope you are not trying to deal with losing a child all by yourself. I hope you believe in something bigger than yourself who is there to help you with your grief.

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