The Truth About Grief And Loss

Weisbaden, Germany
Weisbaden, Germany

Most people over the course of a lifetime endure a multitude of losses that are a necessary and natural part of life. There is the loss of a loved one, loss of one’s younger self, loss of an able body, loss of one’s community after a disaster, loss of one’s livelihood, loss of one’s sense of family or the death of a pet. There are many other types of losses, but these are the ones that often come to mind.

Helen Keller once stated, “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us” ( This couldn’t be more true.

It has also been said that grief is the price we pay for love. The greatest loss another human being can suffer is the loss of someone we allowed ourselves to love deeply. We risk the hurt that comes with allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to let someone into our heart. That can be a spouse, parent, friend or a pet.

As we grow older, we lose many people. I lost my husband before I lost my parents. That was not the natural order of things. Losing a spouse that you know for four decades is like losing a part of your soul. Losing a parent is like losing part of your deepest history. Losing friends is a rude awakening that anything is possible and time is passing. For those who have lost a child, I cannot imagine the courage it takes to continue on. Pets are sacred gifts that come into our lives, and they are humble and loving.

While it is true that in time, it does become easier, we never truly “get over” someone we love. There is no timeline for grief.   Every individual must experience grief at his or her own pace.

It has been said that grief is like waves. Sometimes you may think you are doing really great, and then something will remind you of that person to bring back quite vividly the deep love you shared with that person. You may smile or weep. It could be 5, 10 or 20 years later and quite unexpected the tears will still flow.

The truth about grief is that love is forever whether it’s a parent, spouse, child or pet. There are many reminders of our time with our loved ones.  It could be a birthday, an old faded picture or someone who is walking down the street who looks like a loved one in the distance. I sometimes pass a man on the street that will be wearing the cologne my husband used to wear and I feel his presence as the person walks by. I went into an Italian restaurant one day and ordered pasta fagiola, and they made it just like my mom did, and I felt like I was back home for a moment at her kitchen table chatting with her.  When I am in the supermarket, the scent of a tomato just ripe off the vine reminds me of my father’s garden.  I love dreaming of people who have passed.  It’s like they came for a visit. I know others who have expressed this sentiment.

So May 21 my late husband would have been 69 years old. What would he have looked like 14 years later? What would our lives be like?  Knowing him from then on will always be the chapter in our lives we never got to know.  But I still feel his presence somehow.

Only God knows where life will take me, and I have an open heart because life goes on. A wise young woman once told me we should love as many people as we can in a lifetime. But I can say this with certainty and gratitude: Love is forever, and there will always be a special place in my heart for this special and much-loved human being.

Happy 69th birthday in Heaven Eddie.

Copyright © Mary Grace Whalen May 2015. All Rights Reserved.

6 Replies to “The Truth About Grief And Loss”

  1. Hi, Mary,

    Although I didn’t know you in high school, I followed your link in our high school web site to this blog post and I’m so glad I did. I just lost my Dad two weeks ago. He was 91 but I’m struggling with the loss. Your post on grief, its’ impact and going forward has helped me a lot.

    Our two daughters were born the same years and I have three grandchildren!

    Nikki (aka Netti) Hoffman
    Lady Lake, Florida

    1. Hi Nikki,

      Please accept my sincerest condolences upon losing your Dad. At any age, loss is loss. It will always be painful to lose those who are meaningful in our lives. Like you, I lost my father in his 90s, at the age of 93. It still hurt just as much.

      Enjoy your grandchildren, and thank you for letting me know my words helped you in some way.

      Peace to you.

      Mary Grace Whalen

  2. Hi Mary,
    Dolores sent me the link to your recent video and I immediately wanted to throw my arms around you and weep for joy with you. While not possible at the moment I went on to visit your web site and ultimately your blog. I am in awe of your internal courage and determination to find and nourish your own special God given talents. In my opinion your most important attribute is your generosity and burning desire to share your experiences with others. No question your work is inspirational to many and in turn hopefully will inspire you to new challenges and lasting success.

    Warm Regards to your Family,

    PS I held Eddie in the highest regard and was alway happy to be with him. Ed was my kind of sports fan, teller of good jokes and spinner of excellent family folk tales, one or two pertaining to your early life experiences. (all PG rated of course)

  3. Hi Bob,

    Your comments are sincerely appreciated, and they touched my heart. Over the years as I transitioned from a hearing person to being totally deaf, writing gave me a voice and a presence in a silent world. In the maddening silence, I could hear my own voice.

    In August, I will meet with editors, publishers and literary agents and make a pitch for my upcoming book, “Living In The Color Magenta.” Writing satisfies that creative part of me that always wanted to be an artist.

    Thank you for remembering Eddie. Life goes on, but there will always be the indelible mark he left on all of us. We are family Bob, and we will always have these special stories to remember and share.

    Hugs, Mary

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