Six Things I Learned About Grief

I learned a bunch of stuff this month. 6 Things to be exact.

I hope you didn’t notice that I missed the January email. On the other, I kind of hope you did. Maybe you missed a word or two from me.

Many of you know my dad died very unexpectedly and we moved my mother to hospice. He was wonderful, difficult, loving, complicated, beloved, devoted and I miss him very, very much.

My father’s death although abrupt did allow for some time together in the hospital. I was lucky to have that time and I posted about it on Twitter and Facebook. I couldn’t believe he was so ill and I needed help.

Here’s what I learned about being out there with my grief.

  • I learned how to be a better friend.
  • I learned to reach out more to people in pain and that the effort is worth it
  • I learned that even the smallest of thoughts across the e-verse are helpful
  • I learned that people know what to say when you’re grieving because they too have been sad and,
  • Lastly, that if you let them, people will help ease the burden of grief.
  • [Tweet “Lastly, you have to let people help you, to get real help.”]

My long-time friend literally moved into my house to help me and without her, I might have just wandered around and never been able to go back to teaching on time.

She said, “Would you like me to come?”

Instead of bucking up and brushing her off I said, “Yes please.”

And that week I cried but also laughed. A lot.

Every day I learn how to be a healthier, better person. Thank you all so much.


I wrote about my dad here. Yes, he was difficult but I sure loved him.


  1. Linda on February 20, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Please accept my deepest sympathies. Thank you for sharing from your heart and soul. Your comment,”Lastly, you have to let people help you, to get real help” is so significant.
    Hugs, Linda Zagon

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you Linda. I can’t believe how kind and warm people have been to me. This alone is one of my greatest treasures and lessons. You included.

  2. Laurie on February 20, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    I am sending big hugs and prayers for your family.
    Even if you think you are ready to let your loved one move on, we are never ready. Allow yourself to “take” all the love offered.
    Laurie Picillo

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      It’s new to go from the care giver to the cared for. I, for once, let that happen. It was really something. Thank you so much for your hugs and prayers. Ann

  3. Natalie Howard on February 20, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Hello, Ann.
    So sorry to hear about your loss. I was just thinking about you and planning to follow back up with you about The 5th Semester when I saw this email… My sincerest condolences go out to you during this difficult time…
    May you continue to heal one day at a time as you reflect on your father’s life and the fact that he gave you life which has been such a blessing to so many others!

    Warmest regards and prayers,


    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:39 pm

      Oh Natalie, thank you. It has been a hard time but so filled with support. I’ve been lucky to have my parents for so long and you are right, they gave me the springs to reach to others.
      Please do catch-up, I’d love to hear how you are doing.

  4. Susan on February 20, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    My sympathies to you, Ann. Thank you for sharing your wisdom; I hope your readers will learn from your thoughts. So many people want to say something profound and don’t know where to start, so they don’t. Glad to know you found comfort in the small messages too.

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:37 pm

      I did find comfort. None of them had to be profound and that is what I learned. You can just say, I’m sorry and I know. At times, I think I had to be original but you don’t. You really don’t. Thank you Susan. I count you as a friend.

  5. Lisa on February 20, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Favorite post ever, Ann. XO

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:34 pm

      Oh teacup. You lovely thing.

  6. Susan Walters Peterson on February 20, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through these last couple of months. We learn so much about ourselves and others when dealing with grief and loss. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Thank you for taking it with me. You can’t know how much it means.

  7. gaye on February 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    I loved this Ann and wish I had been this wise 48 years ago…I would have fared much better going forward! Blessings to you as you navigate this next chapter…xx gaye Mack

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Oh Gaye, 48 years ago. Lord. Thank you, dear friend.

  8. Maria Dybevik on February 20, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Ann, I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Losing a parent is so very painful and no one teaches us how to get through it. I lost my mom unexpectedly four years ago. A very sad time. You will learn much (maybe even more than six things) as you already have. Never apologize for crying, that was one thing I did. I just cried and let it come. Also, laugh and talk and be silent. You will ache. But you will be ok. And, yes, welcome the help and the love of friends. Thinking of you…

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Maria, thank you. Thank you for understanding and sharing your thoughts. I feel very lucky.

  9. linda on February 20, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Life is just so hard sometimes. I am so sorry for what you are going through. Im glad that you have let people help you get through this. People are kind and warm to you because you are loved.

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      I should never have written this on a rainy day….all your responses are making me cry. But in a good way. In a loved way. Thank you.

  10. Marti on February 20, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Prayers for you and your family.

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you very, very much.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Thank you, Marti.

  11. Christa Allan on February 20, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    So glad your friend steered you around at just the right time.

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      She did. She really did. All my friends do. ((()))

  12. Betty Hutchinson on February 20, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    Ann, I am so very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I am able to relate to your pain especially today, the anniversary of my own dad passing. All my best to you and yours as you begin to learn how to continue this life without him.

    • Ann Garvin on February 20, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      You have my heart Betty, big hugs to you on this day.

  13. Debra Hearne on February 20, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Ann, I know your pain. My Dad fell and broke his femur bone in the middle of January of last year. Recovery was hard and he passed away on February 3, 2017. My Mother was already on Hospice but at home. We moved her into a nursing home nearby and Hospice continued to treat her there. I can’t say enough good things about Hospice. They were my rock. On April 26, Eighty-two Days after Daddy passed, Mama joined him in Heaven. My year of grieving is still not over. I’ve learned a lot and cried a lot.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:53 am

      Debra, you and I are living parallel lives (you are ahead of me a bit, but still). I know your pain well. I’m so glad your mother was able to join your father. I’m holding you in my thoughts–you are with me in my grief and I in yours. Thank you for taking the time to show me that I’m not alone.

  14. Angela LeBlanc on February 21, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Dealing with grief is difficult and different for every one, I am sorry for your loss and also happy that you had someone to share your thoughts, tears and laughs with. Those people are real friends. I don’t know if you or your father believe in God, but if so you know that he is no longer suffering, feels no pain and is waiting for your mother. Having your mother in hospice is great, my boyfriend’s mother was there for only 24 hours before she passed but Mike said that even though she didn’t know what was going on, he knew and said that they were great with him, providing words of comfort. God Bless.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Angela, I do believe. I think my father is with my mother even now. She often speak as if someone has just spoken to her (and she’s irritated) :). Hopsice is amazing. Thank you 🙂

  15. Pam Gardner on February 21, 2018 at 1:23 am

    So sorry about your Dad. Mine is rather cantankerous too but I still have him at 96. He is never easy but I know I am blessed.
    Love to you. It is so hard to lose our parents. My Mom has been gone for over 5 years.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:50 am

      96! I bet that spunk has kept him going. I’m sorry for your loss of your mom. We are lucky, we’ve had them for so long!

  16. Susan Gromis on February 21, 2018 at 2:47 am

    My sympathies to you on your dad’s passing. My father was cantankerous at the end, but I miss him every day…and it has been 5 years. Your memories will become more precious and your heart will heal again. But as a friend told me, a girl always needs her dad….and that has stuck with me ❤️.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Thank you Susan. We got closer and closer through the years–even in his difficulty he always did the right thing.
      Your words mean a lot to me.

  17. Francine Pappadis Friedman on February 21, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Dear Ann,
    I know how you feel. Losing family members at any age is so difficult to deal with. As the youngest late-in-life child, my brother and sister were 10 and 8 years older than I. When we lost our parents, my brother said, “Now we’re orphans.” Then years later when he died, my sis said, “Now we’re the only siblings left.” She died nine months ago, and these past holidays were filled with tears . . . but also with beautiful childhood memories. They do help you get through tough times.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Thank you, Francine. So you are the last of the fammily. Well, we are all your family now. 🙂

  18. Jenny Collins Belk on February 21, 2018 at 5:46 am

    Ann: Please accept my sincere condolences. As we age, we eventually lose the ones that brought us into this world. No one teache us how to cope with this great loss. Praying that you can navigate your future with wonderful, loving memories of your Dad. Just remember as long as you still have love in your heart for him, he still lives.

    • Ann Garvin on February 21, 2018 at 11:44 am

      “As long as you still have love in your heart for him, he still lives” This is wonderful because that’s what I look for.Ways that he is still present. Thank you for that. I’ll carry that with me. 🙂

  19. Patty Warren on February 21, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Ann, your lessons are very valuable and all too often not heeded. I wish I had read this before my own father passed away. You and your family have my deepest sympathy and hugs all around. The memories do help even if they are memories. 🙂

    • Ann Garvin on February 25, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      Thank you and I’m so glad you think so. Memories do help and I cherish them. 🙂

  20. Gena "My Book Reviews for You" on February 22, 2018 at 5:46 am

    Sending you love and prayers for your loss. It is so difficult to watch our parents as they age and go through sickness and illnesses. I have formed deep friendships with people from talking about experiences with losing parents.

    • Ann Garvin on February 25, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      Thank you so much. We do all bond this way.

  21. Susan Roberts on February 22, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Ann – so sorry for your loss. It’s difficult to lose a parent at any age. I lost my Mom in August – mentally she was sharp but her body was wearing out and she was ready to join my Dad. Like you, my friends were wonderful. I was always worried that I would say the wrong thing to someone but after going through my Mom’s death, I learned that just a hug from a friend can do wonders. i learned a lot about being more compassionate to others and to be a better friend.

  22. Duke and Jacki Damson on February 25, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. It is not easy to put words to grief, but I have been there with both my parents. Keep your memories close and let people in your life. You are very fortunate to have such a good friend to help you. Hugs are better than words at a time like this. Please know that support is close by from a variety of sources. Take care. Hugs, Duke and Jacki Damson (Kit’s mom and dad)

    • Ann Garvin on February 25, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Thank you so much Jacki (I knew it was you) 🙂

  23. Merle Drown on February 28, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Our condolences, Ann. Glad love and strength came your way. Glad you shared what you learned.
    Merle and Tess

  24. […] Six Things I Learned About Grief […]

  25. Shannon Davis on October 17, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Ann, I’m so sorry for your losses and thank you for your honestyamd vulnerability in sharing your story of loss and grief. We often only think of grief as losing a loved one, but we’ve both learned that grief is a much broader experience. I’m working through the loss of the life I had known and dreamt of after a spinal cord injury. I am giving myself the time to emotionally and physically recover as well as working to find a renewed purpose in my new life. Reading about your experience reminds me that we all experience various forms of grief, but resilience is our partner in this struggle. Stay the course Ann, and I will too! Best wishes to you!

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Shannon, You are so strong and I know you’ve been through a hellofa time.
      I think about you often. And those kids are amazing. We have that going for us.
      Big warm hugs.

  26. Jacki Damson on December 14, 2018 at 3:13 am

    My heart and thoughts go out to you all. I had great support when my parents died and am glad you had support during your time of grief. I thought I was fine and then something would come up and bam, the tears came. Cherish your memories and rely on your friends. We are all here for you, just say yes. Take care of yourself and keep writing.

    • Ann Garvin on December 14, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Thank you so much for reaching out with your support. This is how I get through….the kindness of my friends. xo

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