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9 Lessons I’ve Learned from Losing a Loved One

9 Lessons I’ve Learned from Losing a Loved One

Losing a loved one teaches you some things… things you’d rather have learned another way, but here you are anyway. You learn that life goes on even while you wish you could pause and press rewind. You find love, even after everything. And it carries you and you do what you can. Mostly, you learn that it’s still your turn to live.

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9 Lessons Learned from Losing a Loved One

1. Life moves forward.

… but you don’t have to move on.

Time stops and you wish the world would stop with you. You’ll find yourself moving with it eventually, but you do that in your own time, in your own way.

With support and love, even this movement which hurts so much at first turns into its own blessing.

“If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever.” — Winnie the Pooh

2. Don’t miss the simple things.

The purpose of your life is to live, deeply.

You can’t control most things, but you can savor what’s right in front of you. You can cherish the people still here. You can live in honor of those who have gone before you.

3. Life is worth living.

There’s so much to experience, so many people to learn about, so much more you can do, give, enjoy, dream. Drink in your experiences. Live them fully. It’s still your time on earth.

“My past and my future depends on today.” — Tevor Hall

4. You’re not alone.

Death brings with it a wider perspective. Loss reminds you that you’re on a planet full of people who grieve… and you start meeting them. You start meeting each other on that level, through empathy, pain, story, and hope.

You feel the truth deep in your soul: that we’re here, together, under the same sky, learning the same things. And we rebuild, together.

5. Love lives on.

Love is the only thing you get to take with you when you go.

Losing a loved one teaches you that even you are worthy of love and belonging. That love isn’t what hurts: it’s the mess of not knowing where to send your love after someone you love dies.

Death isn’t an ending, but a continuation of love. You learn how to love even after everything. You learn how to carry their love with you, to love how they loved. That’s the love that carries you.

6. You ARE strong.

Strength doesn’t mean you always feel strong. It means you show up anyway.

It takes courage (strength) to stand emotionally open and give your heart even though it’s risky. It takes trust (strength) to take your pain and give back differently. Strength means making it all the way here, even though it was hard to get up this morning.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus

7. You have a choice.

Even in the chaos and struggle, you get choices. You get to choose how you see the world, what you focus on, and how you respond.

You decide whether or not what happened was wrong or something that happened, something that’s now part of your life. You choose how you love now.

8. There’s a lot of heaven in the world.

It’s easier to focus on the bad, the negative, and the pain. It’s also okay and necessary to acknowledge how you feel about it all. That doesn’t mean you need to stay in those feelings for the rest of your life.

The good news is that there’s beauty still. There are people who care and those who’ve come to give. Loss nudges your heart open so you can take it all in… all the things you didn’t pay attention to before.

“Earth's crammed with heaven.” — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

9. Maybe nothing is really lost.

I believe that love is the one thing we get to take with us when we go. That nothing done in love can be erased. That the love you share is the same love that makes life happen, over and over again.

“The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.” – Seneca

. . .

Tell me:

Which of these lessons are you learning, or do you have another to share?

Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I’d love to know.

With love,


P.S. Get the comfort you need when it’s dark out. Get my book Sleep Affirmations: 200 Phrases for a Deep and Peaceful Sleep. It’s more than a book about sleep. It’s healing and hope you can hold in your hands.

Losing a loved one teaches you some things… things you’d rather have learned another way, but here you are anyway. You learn that life goes on even while you wish you could pause and press rewind. You find love, even after everything. And it carries you and you do what you can. Mostly, you learn that it’s still your turn to live.

Comments on this post (10)

  • Feb 22, 2024

    Thank you for working on this craft. I happened to browse this after my son and I talked about values they’ve learned from losing a new born son after so many trials of trying to build a family of their own. These are exactly what I’m trying to impart on him. Most importantly they value the importance of family. I learned from this too, after 6 years of untimely losing my youngest son.

    — Josie Gomez

  • Jan 13, 2023

    I lost my beloved to brain cancer, it was timed just with the pandemic. I didn’t know his actual diagnosis and how serious it was. He hid it from me. He had a brain surgery and went back to normal life. However, his smile disappeared and his loving touches vanished but his heart was filled with love as always. Months later, the cancer took over and strong and tall husband became so fragile and dependent on me to the extent he couldn’t walk. He then passed away after weeks of continuous pain and sleeplessness. May Allah let us meet at the same rank in heaven. Amen

    — Wafaa

  • Aug 10, 2022

    I lost my grandma my best friend in the hole world was my grandma she was the bright light of the family she was 77 and had cancer and passed in 2018 and if she saw me now I hope she would smile it changed my life every time she smiled.

    — Mackenzie

  • Jan 17, 2022

    My husband was diligent about getting his physical every year. He had one in July of 2020 and was given a clean bill of health. Three months later he pulled a muscle in his shoulder and after three weeks of physical therapy and muscle relaxers, following x-rays and doctor visits, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The doctors gave us hope that chemo, radiation and then immunotherapy for a year would work and moved swiftly to have him begin treatment only two weeks after being diagnosed. He died four months later, at the age of 60. I hate that we didn’t take time to digest it all, weigh our options and perhaps decide to do nothing so that those four months may have been peaceful instead of being four months of nausea, pain, discomfort, anxiety, sleeplessness. I’m angry at the doctors for not giving us THAT option….to do nothing. Doctors need to get better at giving patients ALL options and statistics, even ones that include doing nothing. I question how long he would have lived had he never pulled the muscle. I was angry with God but I now have come to realize that my husband was always going to go on that same day and year. There’s nothing we could have done differently that would have changed the outcome. I just wish we/I had spent those last four months enjoying each other and our family, instead of rushing around to a million doctor visits to get an outcome that never was to be. That is what keeps me up at night. He was our rock. Our family feels broken now. 😢

    — Yvonne

  • Feb 06, 2021

    Willa, if you feel at all compelled to write, then write. And keep writing. It’s good to let everything you feel and are be put to paper. And you’re right… you are NOT alone. Sending you all my love to help you through this very difficult time. x

    — Jennifer Williamson

  • Feb 06, 2021

    I lost my mom April 10th 2020 from covid and it’s been hard I still haven’t expected her death cause she was such a grate mother, Bestfriend she was amazing my mom has reached so many people and touched so many hearts. Her death has really left a void in our hearts. I been so broken she has gave me the best 40 years. I was anger with God and I questioned him. She was a true believer in christ. So I asked why her God u new I needed her. I’m learning to live im writing a book to help my self and someone that lost a love one to let them no U ARE NOT ALONE I AM FIGHTING WITH YOU

    — Willa Reed

  • Jan 17, 2021

    Carol, I am deeply sorry for this tremendous loss. My heart is with you and I am wishing you all the strength, light, and peace you need to make it through this very difficult time. And YES, you are absolutely entitled to your feelings. You are allowed to feel how you feel, and to take your time healing, however long it takes. Some things take a lifetime. It hurts because it mattered, and always will matter. Even those who care about you deeply will say things that rub you the wrong way, even though they’re trying to help or don’t know what to say, or do, or how to handle a loss like this. It’s painful to look at such loss, never mind to feel it. Honor yourself. Sit with yourself. Let yourself be a process, too. <3

    — Jennifer Williamson

  • Jan 17, 2021

    I lost my husband days ago and trying to find inner strength. I just want to be left alone. I am so angry and never expected the outcome that my husband would die and never come home. I am sick of people telling me what I did wrong or what I should do now. Am I entitled to my feelings?

    — Carol

  • Sep 28, 2020

    Farah, I am deeply sorry for the loss of your father. My heart is with you right now in this very difficult time. Life can be confusing and dark when you lose the person you love with all your heart, I know. I suggest letting yourself be right where you are, and feel what needs and is asking to be felt. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, to let myself feel the loss full on, but it allowed me to slowly, very slowly move forward without leaving myself behind, and without leaving my loved one behind. It’s okay to take your time. Healing is a deep and important process. It’s okay if you don’t have answers to all your questions, solutions for all your pain, something to fill every void. It hurts because it matters. Meditating on the light that was and is still your father, walks in nature, taking care of yourself and your space, asking for help, being honest about what you need and don’t want – all helpful, maybe essential. Email me anytime. Sending you my love. x

    — Jennifer Williamson

  • Sep 28, 2020

    Thank you. You inspire! I lost my father 2months ago. I am broken and shaken since then. My life stopped abruptly. How do I start a new life? Or get back on track?

    — Farah

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