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You Don’t Have to Say Goodbye When Someone You Love Dies

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There is no magic word, action or pill you can take to get you through the death of a loved one. Even time, which is said to heal all, will never totally take away the pain. It will dull it, help make things better, and allow us to become stronger.

I’ve discovered something that helps more and is quicker than time. It has helped me and given me a new perspective. It is an exercise to do during the grieving period, a crucial time in healing.

Before I share, I would like to tell you a story.

My Dad died last November from heart failure due to complications with stomach cancer. He had been through many storms with his health and survived them all but this one. Call it a daughter’s intuition, but I knew it was his time. I’d been preparing myself for that day ever since 1985 when he had his first heart attack – 21 years of knowing daddy wasn’t going to be around forever.

I did my best to cherish every moment with him, but I didn’t obsess about it. When he would fall ill, I knew he would get through those challenges. I also knew no matter how much I prepared myself it was going to be hard. There is never a right time to say goodbye.

So don’t. I recently finished the book Don’t Kiss Them Goodbye by Allison Dubois, the woman who inspired the hit NBC Television Series Medium. I am now reading her second book, We Are Their Heaven. Whether you believe in one’s ability to communicate with the dead or not, Allison gives some great advice in her books.

First, remember, “You have to fall apart so that you can rebuild yourself.” This is why the grieving period is so important. Allow yourself to cry, give yourself time to be sad, and don’t expect or demand yourself to be strong. Second, know that our loved ones never really leave us. If you believe in life after death or a place called heaven, this won’t be so hard to do. If you don’t, allow yourself to have an open mind, to consider the possibility and explore this belief further. Physically they leave us, spiritually they don’t. This is Allison’s main point.

Another great statement she makes is, “The biggest compliment you can pay to people you have loved and lost is to keep a part of them alive in yourself, memorializing their significance.”

Though I could go on quoting her, I will stop with the most important thing I learned from her books: “Anybody who has lost someone they love has to find a new way of loving that person, since hugs and kisses are no longer an option.”

How can we do this? Here is my exercise that I’ve learned with the help of Allison Dubois.

When you wake in the morning, acknowledge they are with you. Say their name and talk to them aloud. This is easy to do for people who talk to themselves. I am one of those.

When you partake in an activity you delight in, bring them with you simply by thinking of them as you enjoy that time. Better yet, do the things they used to love to do. My brother mows the lawn at my mom’s house, one of dad’s favorite pastimes. I eat salami sandwiches with asiago cheese or whatever else he used to enjoy eating, but toward the end couldn’t. My mom listens to baseball games on the radio. She could care less about baseball, but dad loved the game and it is her way of saying I love you still.

These little things keep them with you. You don’t have to say goodbye. Live your life to the fullest while holding them in your heart so they may continue to experience life through you.

Thanks, Allison.

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About Kristi

  • Kristi, my Mom will be gone a year at the end of this month. I have not been able to reconcile any of what has happened. Plus, I lost her sister (my favorite aunt and godmother) last February. Having lost both of these special women so closely has devastated me.

    Nothing much has worked for me. I went to the group in my parish (I’m Catholic too), but it didn’t help (not because of the group but because I was not open to it).

    I am trying to be open now, but I have to admit that I have a hard time with it. I do try talking to them at odd moments, and they come to me in my dreams (sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not).

    Mourning is a long and difficult road. Some should find your piece helpful, and I will try to think about my grief more openly.


  • Like Victor I will agree that “Mourning is a long and difficult road.” I, too, have had a hard time with the loss of my wife.

    After 38 years profoundly together I am still learning to feel truly alone. But, as you wrote, I still live pretty much as we lived together. I felt her near me at first, can still talk to her and know pretty much what she would answer. I need her back to discuss what I should plan for myself now.

    I also feel her having moved away to some other level where I can no longer walk with her.

    I think of her in the morning during those freshly awake moments we shared together before the hassles of the day began. We swam together, and having spread her ashes in the lagoon we loved, I feel her around me in the water. We swam together and, eyes closed in the rhythm of the strokes, we still do.

    But, yes, it is hard. It was a sweet piece you wrote. Thanks.

  • In my closet, there is a box with lovely cotton nightgowns that have incredible Swiss embroidery on them. After 9 years, they s-t-i-l-l smell like my mother. Every so often I look at them and smile.
    On my left ring finger, there is a platinum ring with 3 rows of small diamonds. My mother proudly and lovingly wore this ring for 50 years. I wear it with love.
    I look at my children and remember the woman who brought me into this world, and whom I guided into the next. These are true gifts.
    Thanks for a lovely post.

  • Kristi Niedzwiecki

    Thank you all for your sharing your beautiful thoughts about your loved ones.

    I hope you all are doing well and are finding peace and comfort throughout your days.


  • Lue Morgan

    I am dying and love someone very much. He has been a special part of my Life for many years. There are days that are good, we laugh and share and remember the days when we were young. Then there are days when he seems so angry with me and I’m not sure if it’s the way the chemo causes me to act or talk and get things confused or if it’s that I’m not the person he once loved and I have become so different from the illness. Please…….allow us our smiles, our hugs, our good memories. We want to leave knowing we left you happy, not sad and crying. I have no fear of death. I am at my final stage, acceptance. I can talk about death without falling apart. What brings tears is the unhappiness of the people we love so very much. We know how you feel…….helpless, griefstricken, angry. but this will pass and we want you to go on and live your life to the fullest and to forgive us any wrongdoing we may have caused. God is our strength just as your love and support. You will be blessed. And we will live on in your memory.
    Lue Morgan

  • islay

    Your message is beautiful and powerful and it could only be written by someone with an immensely loving heart and an extraordinary inner strength. I found it very comforting and brought me some peace as I struggle with loss. Thank you.

  • islay

    I would like to direct my email to Lue Morgan.

  • Kathleen

    ~To Lue Morgan
    I found your wording brought me warmth and inner peace as I grieve the loss of my dear companion. I wish I had the words to comfort those that are dealing with a loss, as this is my second in 12 years. The hurt lingers for quite a while, but the memories and speaking about them is what helps the most. Thank you.

  • gary

    I am try to come to terms with losing my Dad last October, to Small Cell Lung Cancer.
    I speak to his picture every night I tell him how I miss him and I always say good-night to him and always say good morning.

    I like to think he hears me when I talk to his picture.

    Somedays are easier than others as we all know.

  • Sharon Hollingsworth

    When you lose someone you love, your life is forever changed. There is a void where the one you loved once stood. Your life takes on a different pattern and has a new meaning. Even your focus and perspectives change. For me the loss of my brother is indescribable. He was everything to me, and many things to other people. What I have found helpful is hearing fom others just how much he impacted their own lives. It has given renewed strength and, that which I had lost; a sense of purpose. So even though after almost 3 years, he is still; the first to occupy my thoughts when I rise, and the last to occupy my thoughts when I lay down my head, I realize just how much of an impact his life has had. Therefore, I strive with greater zeal to live my life to positively impact that of others. That makes me feel fulfilled and that’s I what he would have wanted.