There is probably not a single survivor who has not at some time been stung by somebody’s well meant but thoughtless remark, such as “Oh, I thought you would be over it by now!” when you know that grief is not something that one gets over and forgets like a bout with the flu. Or, “You’re so strong and brave,” when you feel that you can hardly make it up the grocery aisle. Or, “I know how you feel,” when you know that is impossible. Remarks like these hurt, but these fortunate people may never have experienced grief. They cannot know the depth of your anguish and do not know what to say. The hurt is immediate, but they did not mean to cause you discomfort. So, if you can manage a smile or a simple “thank you,” that will be enough. But, you may also want to leave and go on your way; it is all right to do so.

The sight of couples walking down the street, or the sight of a child of the same age as the one who died, can be unbearable. But the world will not change. Similar situations and words which wound will continue to challenge you. You will need to come to terms with this so that you do not purposely avoid old friends or new experiences because of the resentment that you feel now in the darkest days of grief. These pangs are normal as you try to put your life into a new perspective, as you search within yourself for the strength to remain understanding and forgiving and to accept what help and sympathy others can offer. It is their love and care that counts.

For the present, you may want to change some old habits and establish some different routines. Choosing one good friend to accompany you on an outing may be better just now than joining a larger group. A new acquaintance who has suffered a similar loss or who is also grieving may be better company than anyone else. Taking a different route to go to work, eating meals in another part of the house, altering the days when you and your spouse used to do errands or go shopping together are some of the ways that might be helpful. Some survivors, on the other hand, will want to hold fast to the familiar and will find comfort there. You discover gradually just what your needs are as you struggle to live with the permanent change in your life.