Is it Harder to Mourn an Actual Loss or Loss of an Ideal You Never Had?

Family holding hands on the beach“Which is harder – mourning an actual loss or mourning the ‘ideal’ of something you never had?”

This question was recently posted to the wall of my professional services page on a popular social networking site. I thought this was an intriguing question and one you yourself may have pondered in one version or another.

Grief is a natural feeling we have in response to a loss. Many people immediately associate grief with the deaths of those we love, but there are many kinds of loss that can plunge us into the deep well of grief. Loss comes in seemingly endless varieties. Loss of a relationship, loss of your job, loss of your home or a treasured object. Loss of the feeling of safety after a trauma. Loss of functioning after an accident or a medical crisis. Loss of your sense of security or self-assurance. Loss of freedom or independence. Loss of property or material goods. We can feel grief in response to the loss of anything we love and cherish. Being bereaved is the state of having lost something precious to us. I feel grief, I am bereaved. Mourning is a verb. Mourning is the outward expression of the feeling of grief. Mourning, in a broad sense, includes whatever acts we engage in to help us express our grief. Crying, wailing, wearing particular items of clothing or jewelry, building altars or shrines, creating art that reflects our feelings, engaging in grief rituals, writing, whatever it is that we do with the purpose of expressing our grief. Alan Wolfelt, internationally noted author, educator and grief counselor, said, (and I completely agree with him), “Everybody grieves…but only people who mourn really heal and move on to live and fully love again.”

So, can we mourn something we never had? At first, the answer may seem to be no. If we must  lose something in order to feel grief and the something was never a real thing that actually existed, it can’t really be lost, right?  As so many seemingly straightforward questions are, the question of whether we can mourn the loss of an  ideal is more complex than it first appears. I don’t know what the “ideal” was that the questioner lost, but I can imagine many kinds of “ideals” that can be lost. We often find ourselves in the position of having to face the realization that what we once thought was ours was never really ours to begin with. I believe there can absolutely be grief and mourning over those kinds of losses. Let’s imagine that her loss was what she once thought was her ideal relationship. If the person she had pinned all her dreams on turned out not to be the person they seemed to be, and the relationship seems now a sham, that kind of loss can be heartbreaking. Perhaps you have experienced such a loss. There may have been painful betrayals, realizations that the person you loved, and who you thought loved you, did not really share your values, or feel the same way you felt. You may have trusted and believed that you had found your soul mate, your ideal, and then when the relationship ended, the realization that it was never the beautiful dream you had believed in, came crashing down. So, was it real? I think the answer is yes. And so is the loss and the grief that comes with it. Therefore it can be mourned.

Another example of mourning the loss of an ideal is the very real grief caused by the loss of hopes and dreams of the future. Families whose children are diagnosed with disabilities such as Down Syndrome, or who receive a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum, understand this kind of grief and mourning for the loss of an ideal all too well. When a beloved child is diagnosed with a disorder  that will absolutely impact his or her future, quality of life, learning, or functioning ability, parents can feel a multitude of losses. Most of us imagine what our “perfect” child will be like before he or she is born. We imagine the wonderful things she will accomplish, the goals he will achieve. Our hopes and dreams for our children’s lives do not include hardships or pain that they may have to endure. Many families’ hopes and dreams for their children can seem all but destroyed when a diagnosis of a life-altering condition is given. Many families eventually learn to move forward and discover that their children possess amazing gifts. Eventually, they can come to celebrate their children’s unique qualities and see them as treasured testaments to the beauty and diversity of the human condition. This doesn’t mean that they don’t grieve and mourn the loss of the ideal life they imagined, a typical existence for their family, or an uncomplicated, usual course of development for their child.

The questioner on my page also asked though, “which is harder?”–mourning an “actual” loss or the ideal? I think in looking at what loss is, and the huge spectrum therein, we can conclude that “actual”, doesn’t necessarily mean something tangible. The loss of  hopes, dreams, or an envisioned future, is definitely included in the arena of genuine losses. No, those are not concrete things that we can touch or see, but they are very real nonetheless. Grief comes in many packages. Whether one kind of loss, and the grief felt as a result, is harder to grieve or to mourn than another, is not a question that I can answer. There are many who feel that the death of a child is the “worst” kind of grief imaginable. In my personal experience, I can say that for me, in my life, based on my own experience of the death of my own child, I cannot imagine that any other loss I will experience will ever compare to that. The death of my son and my subsequent grief, I don’t think could ever be rivaled by any other loss in my life.  This is true for sure of losses past, and I think I can accurately predict that it will remain true for losses future. The only other loss I could ever conceive in my own life that could bring the same kind of pain is if  I ever have to endure the loss of my now living child. Hope is not a big enough word to describe my wish to never, ever have to live through that kind of pain again. However, that is only my experience.

Each person’s unique experiences of loss and grief cannot be held to another’s for comparison. Every one of us is different and responds in different ways to loss and to grief. I used to try to compare my own loss following the death of my son to that of a mother whose child had died of murder or violence, whose last moments were spent in fear or pain, and think, my loss is not as terrible as hers. I was trying to somehow make myself feel better, to help myself come to a place where I could stop feeling sorry for myself. But I came to realize that I was being terribly unfair to myself in thinking those kinds of things. I deserved to feel sorry, and to feel sorrow, for myself. Sometimes, I still feel sorry for myself. And that’s ok. My son will not be here with me, or any other member of our family, for the rest of our lives. I am sorry for all of us who don’t get to experience his physical presence, and all that would entail, for the rest of our lives. I know that things can almost always be worse, and I am grateful beyond words that my child died peacefully, surrounded by love, but to live in those kinds of comparison based thoughts is to diminish my experience as well as his. So, I  stopped trying to make comparisons and I feel better for it. The same would apply for someone who tries on a regular basis to compare his or her loss to those of others in order to prove somehow that his or her loss is worse than others. That sort of comparing of grief never really works.

How an individual reacts to loss is very individual. Generally, the more we identify with, and the closer our emotional lives are entwined with the person, object or state of being that is lost, the more intense our feelings of grief. How entwined are your emotions and your identity with your home and all of your possessions? With your spouse or partner and all that relationship represents in your life? What about with your career? Your place of worship? Your friends? Your pets? Your investments? Your family? Various places and things and distinctive aspects of all that makes you who you are and which you hold dear? What if by some tragic turn of events any of those things were gone tomorrow?

The most important thing in getting through grief and loss, coming through to the other side, is having hope and having support. Research has shown that grieving people, no matter how acute the loss, who are able to identify some aspect of hopefulness, are able to move through grief with a better outcome. What is a “better outcome”? I think that means with the ability to feel functional, to feel as though you can contribute to the world, that you can feel happiness again, that you can begin new endeavors, and even though you may be left with a scar, you can move forward and not only survive, but thrive, in your life after loss. You may be in a place where hope seems hard to reach. But sometimes just hoping that you can get out of the bed today may be enough. You may hope to get out of the grocery store without crying, or hope that tomorrow will be a little bit better than today, or hope that you can get through the next five minutes.  Honestly, having that little remnant of hope may get you through it.  Without hope, you’d likely find yourself breaking down in the cereal aisle.

Find someone you can talk to who will not tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Non-judgmental support that will allow you to express and explore your feelings. Look for a support group in your area. Finding others who have experienced similar losses can be very encouraging and empowering. If you feel that you need some extra help, seek out a counselor or therapist experienced in working  with people dealing with grief and loss. Above all, do mourn your loss.  Find a way to express your feelings, do something, create something, engage in some activity that allows you express your grief, even if only for yourself. While you are hurting, remember to be gentle with and take care of yourself.

© Copyright 2011 by Karla Helbert, MS, LPC. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • H.U.

    July 26th, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Thanks for sharing such a personal post, Karla. I’m very sorry for your loss of your child and can’t imagine how hard that must be.

    It never fails to amaze me how differently individuals react to grief. I’m not good with holding it in. I want to talk it out and cry when I feel the need to. My sister on the other hand closes herself off and withdraws. I don’t think that’s healthy but we each do what we need to do. I guess the best we can do for the grieving party is respect their choice.

  • tresa

    July 26th, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    pain is really hard to measure when it is beyond a certain I don’t think there is ever going to be a universal answer to this questions-whether the loss of something real is more painful or the loss of something ideal.

    dealing with pain due to the loss of either of the two is a completely different thing.while ideal things can be reworked up to a certain degree of flexibility,fixing the loss of something real is often going to be next to impossible.

  • F.R.

    July 26th, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    I don’t know how anyone copes with the death of a spouse or a child. My partner’s been diagnosed with cancer recently and while I am trying very hard to be strong and optimistic on the outside, on the inside my heart’s breaking and I feel like I’m crumbling already. How I’m going to stay strong for him through the chemo and everything else? It’s like I’m already mourning a man who’s not dead yet and I don’t want that to be what he sees whenever he looks at me.

    I don’t have family close by that I can vent to and am feeling overwhelmed already with it all,and then I think how selfish I am to be thinking of myself and feel guilty. I’ve never been this close to a serious illness so it’s all new to me. How do others stay so resilient?

  • Jamie

    July 26th, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Really I had never thought about this before reading the article. It is however quite an interesting question. Losing a friend, family member, or someone close is quite a blow to ones mental phsyche. However losing an ideal that you have held true to all of these years can put a person in a definite state of remorse. Which is more critical I have never really thought about but will on my next run.

  • Johnna

    July 26th, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    harder to mourn the loss of the ideal- you will always wonder what might have been

  • Adam

    August 26th, 2016 at 9:21 PM

    I too am mourning an ideal. I had to leave NYC because my wife had a nervous breakdown, and wanted to go home to Kentucky. I mourn the ideal of the kind of life and career and friendships I could’ve had back in NYC if I had stayed. It’s been six years and I’ve never warmed up to Louisville, KY because I’ve been stuck, not really grieving, not really mourning. I’ve put myself in this holding pattern without really even knowing it. It’s like being dead, without them putting the body under the ground. I wish I knew how to finally mourn so I could really give my life another shot. But I just don’t know how.

  • Barbara

    January 8th, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    replying to Adam: while you have every right to your own feelings I would like you to read your words as your wife:
    I too am mourning an ideal. I had to leave NYC because I had a nervous breakdown, and needed to go home to Kentucky. I mourn the ideal of the kind of life and career and friendships I could’ve had back in NYC if I had never gotten sick. It’s been six years and I’m sick. I’ve been stuck, not really grieving, not really mourning. My illness put me in this holding pattern without really even knowing it. It’s like being dead, without them putting the body under the ground. I wish I knew how to finally mourn, I may NEVER have the chance to give my life another shot. But I just don’t know how.

  • harold

    July 26th, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    if you ask me its gotta be something real whose loss would sadden me more.its only because i believe that you value something more when you’ve had it and then lost it rather than never having had it at all.

  • Karla

    July 26th, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Thank you all for your wonderful and thoughtful comments. F.R., I am so sorry that you are going through such pain, and that your partner is dying. I hope that you come back to read these responses. Please feel free to contact me for support. Going through the death of someone you love dearly is so difficult–Go to my profile at: and fill out the email contact form, it will come straight to me.

  • Patrick

    July 27th, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    When you know and love something or someone then when you have to let them go it is a difficult path that you have to take. I would imagine that if you lose something that close to you then that is so much more incredibly difficult than something that you may have only dreamed of or thought about. If you have never really had it then how can you really miss it?


    July 27th, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    In response to the main question of the post:What would be more painful,I don’t think there is any constant here and it depends upon what the thing that is in the danger of a loss is.So sometimes it could be a real thing and some other it can be an ideal that was never actually real. And many of these painful feelings are influenced by our mood,the circumstances and many other things.So it’s really hard to say what is more painful.

  • Jessie

    July 27th, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    I was so glad to read this article. I recently experienced a miscarriage, and many people have insinuated that the grief I have is not like the grief I would have if the child had been born at term and I had gotten to know him. While these people mean well, I was feeling as if maybe I was feeling “too sad.” Reading this article helped me realize that grief as I experience it for whatever reason cannot be compared to any other grief and that I have a right to grieve as deeply as I need to. Now, I just need to find the hope that will help me leave the cereal aisle without crying!

  • tom

    July 28th, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    @Jessie:Sorry for your loss.I can only imagine what you must be going through right now and that things that people tell you will not help your grief much.But please try and pull yourself together.There are many loved one’s around you that are sad because you are sad and they need you to be happy and lively again.A loss like yours cannot be compensated for but can make you stronger.God bless you.

  • Soco

    April 25th, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Thank you so much for writing this in such personal level. I am sorry for your loss too.
    I’ve been mourning a loss that some would tell was just an ideal, but it was my real life and expectation of a project of life together with someone what i lost. I am a lot better now than a few months ago. Although i am re-creating my life with better support (my own), sometime i still feel the sharp pain in the middle of my chest. I guess it is normal and it is just the wound that is healing.
    You are right, hope in that i will be able to be ok and possibly smile in the next hour it is the key.
    Thank you again for sharing Karla.
    May the force be with you.

  • Mary

    April 25th, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Tom, I have to share that your comments to Jessie make me sad and wonder what would lead you to tell someone you do not know to “pull yourself together” because others around you are sad because you are sad? Sadness is an honest emotion that is best resolved by allowing people to express the emotion rather than suggesting that they stuff it so others are not uncomfortable. I pray that someone special can come into your life to be present to whatever sadness you might be stuffing. After experiencing that, I am certain you will know what a blessing you can be to others in doing the same for them.

  • Christina Smythe

    August 6th, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Hello everyone – thank you for taking the time to read this brief post. Many of our loved ones that pass away leave a footprint of digital information. It’s important to make sure you close their email accounts so malicious thieves won’t hack into their accounts and use their identities. Likewise, you should make sure to contact Facebook to ask them to turn off their Facebook page. I found a great application within Facebook called Evertalk where you can create a separate space within Facebook to remember them and celebrate their lives. I’ve been using Evertalk to accept donations to pay for hospital bills for my grandmother who recently passed. I’ve been able to collect $10k, which has greatly helped me and my family deal with the financial burden. Anyways, I wanted to pass along the recommendation to check out Evertalk within Facebook. Their web site is

    Hope this helps.

  • Jacklyn Johnson

    August 6th, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    That information is very helpful. Thanks for the heads up on the Evertalk page Christina.

  • Ronaldus

    March 13th, 2013 at 6:28 AM

    I mourn for the women i loved, who got a boyfriend recently. Of course that’s life, but its been a bit too many in the last two months. Seeing a photo and the responses of everybody: what a lovely couple!, and no room to express this loss….

  • Ilissa Banhazl, MFT

    April 26th, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    A well thought out and clearly discussed article about all kinds of grief. Well written and great for patients who are grieving any kind of loss. Ilissa Banhazl, marriage and family therapist, Glendora

  • Adrian

    May 22nd, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Thank you for writing this. I found it while searching for information about mourning something like an ideal.

    I’m in my 50s and I’m both introverted and shy. I’ve spent nearly 40 years trying to be bolder and more outgoing. I had always hoped that I’d outgrow my tendencies, and later that therapy and self help and practice would lead to significant change, but they really haven’t. So I feel the need to mourn the opportunities that were tantalizingly just beyond my grasp.

    And then I also need to mourn the choice I made to try to remake myself, rather than accepting the person I was and the opportunities that were there for me if I hadn’t pinned all my hopes on change.

    My hope is that mourning the hand I was dealt and the poor way I played that hand will help me get beyond feeling that my past was wasted and on to seeing my past as a path to an honest present that I embrace.

  • Karen

    November 24th, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I just wrote my own blog about this ….

    very good write

  • JC

    May 7th, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    If it helps others, my experience of loss was two fold, I lost my wife, but not before (after a very short period of serious unhappiness and distress in) realising that the wife, and future, and religious ideal I held on marriage, had been all in vain. She was not the person I had thought, or at least fantasised about. She was abusive, and narcissistic, and realising that she had no empathy, or conscience, I came to the realisation that I was little more than an object for her pleasure. The sense of loss of the fantasy was immense, the loss of the dream I had of a real love, mutual love and respect, shattered as an illusion. I grieved (and still do at times) her leaving,(at my request) I grieved her not really being there (in that it was like being with an empty shell, and when I wasn’t with her, I was insignificant in her life as if I did not exist. And in her cruelty, my feelings were insignificant. I grieved my self, and my poor judgment, the loss of deserted friends, intimacy. I grieved the loss of peace. Of self respect for my handling of the situation. I grieved the fact that this was a repeat of the loss of a mother who has the same nature, who had walked out on us when we were eight, the loss of a child hood. So yes, the loss of ideals, dreams and fantasies, when over invested in without caution, can be immensely painful. But nothing could I imagine compare with the loss of a child. The first scenario, is a lot of self pity, after all I was responsible for my choices (and yes, in a way, I was aware of the risk) but the child, we all expect to die after our children, then again, that is another idea, fantasy I guess. May you feel Shalom, those who grieve.

  • NP

    July 18th, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    My dear friend, I am so relieved to find your post, after one of the most painful days of my life. By the end of it I realised that I was grieving for the loss of mySELF. The enormity of it was overwhelming and I was unable to function all day. I too, recently was suddenly abandoned by my darling husband , whose countenance suddenly changed from my adoring man to a cruel monster upon his return from three weeks away. I have spent the past six months piecing together the pieces of our puzzle, the deception right until we sat down for coffee and he made his announcement. It was a fait accomplis, and he had already closed his heart and mind to me. He had already planned his new life, had established a new host woman to love him, and had informed many of our close friends, whilst swearing his undying love to me. My whole world fell apart. Since then, I have lost my family, my friends, my future, my world view, my dignity….it feels as if I have lost everything of importance in life.
    I have researched and studied and spent hours in introspection , and realised that I was seduced, used and abandoned by a narcissistic sociopath who feels no shame, guilt or remorse for the dreadful way he treated the person he vowed he loved right up until his departure. From there, I see that my mother was a narcissist, and my whole life has been wasted in the repetitive pursuit of love from people who could not love me. I now live without trust, in constant fear of more hurt about to happen, and with so much muck and pain to sort through that my life has ground to a crawl when I most need to get up and run.
    Today, I grieved and grieved. Not an unfamiliar sensation after the loss of so much and so many. But unique in that when the tears stopped, and calm swept over me, I realised it was ME or my neurotic attachment to my concept of myself for whom I grieved. Everything I knew to be true, everything I believed about people and the world, my dreams, my values, my carefully crafted and lovingly created LIFE, I must now let go, at a time of life when I should be quietly preparing for a gentle retirement. I must allow my old ideals of myself to die, so that I can have some kind of rebirth, and start afresh with new ideals, new values. Such grief as I have never known compared to the grief of attachment to another living (dead) being.

  • LR

    January 1st, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    Wow. I thought I would find nobody else who has been through what I’m going through and cared to comment. I have awoke from a nightmare that lasted 4 years. My childrens father, the man I have loved is a sociopath who has been killing me from the inside out and outside in. I am grieving a lot of things such as friends, identity, my 20s, sanity, etc., but one thing more so than others. It is my ideas of love and the role a woman should have the idea of a perfect fairytale once you settle with someone and have kids, get married, etc. Something I have dreamed of for 20 years. I say the ideal because how can you find closure to something thT doesn’t exist. I don’t know how to heal, but the tears flow and I figure that’s a start.

  • Lisa

    August 20th, 2014 at 5:39 AM

    Thank you for sharing as a therapist and also as a person; it’s something too few therapists seem to do, at least in my experience. I agree with not comparing and justifying pain, also. It’s something I realized many years ago that has helped me considerably in my own life. My resolve, however, was slightly different; I told myself never to justify anyone’s pain because the details may be different, but the feelings were universal and in my opinion I had no right to evaluate whose pain was bigger or smaller. Why would I do that, anyway? I’d rather not win in the battle of who hurts more and I definitely never want to be a person who loses in that battle because I sentenced the depth to someone else’s hurt. Just one girls thoughts.

  • anon

    September 16th, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    I’m glad I found this page. I have just been through a very confusing few months. During a very troubled time of my life, I met someone who I unconsciously pinned hopes on – hopes of something new for me, I think. Hopes for escape from my misery. I had no idea I was doing it – I wasn’t even thinking about him up until I thought I wouldn’t see him again, then I felt this crushing grief. That grief made me feel uncomfortable even when I found out I was seeing him again and I got so incredibly anxious I ended up chasing him away. I only met him 3 times in the end. And yet the grief afterwards was horrible – excruciating. I knew it could have nothing to do with the person himself, and had to have something to do with…well, something else…it wasn’t clear to me what for months. But the feelings of grief have been extremely real and despite not ‘longing’ for him at the time (I didn’t have feelings for him yet), I ‘long’ for him now – just as I would if I had loved him.

    It’s been very confusing, but I know it must have something to do with something else. I think I lost a fantasy. A fantasy of who I could be, a fantasy of what my life could be like. Really, I think I’ve just discovered how unhappy I was back then.

    Good things have come out of it – I have worked out what it is I want to do with my life and how to make myself happier internally and externally, but I was shocked at the feelings. It was the most exquisite pain I’ve ever felt and I was completely out of control. Two months on it continues. I have moments when it doesn’t hurt, but mostly I feel pain and anguish.

    So it appears we can grieve something we never had. I think I am grieving lost hope, even though I have new hope for other things. It’s been odd…

  • Nancy

    November 14th, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    Dear Annon
    Reading your post as if I had written your words myself. I am also grieving the loss of a fantasy and the grief is so overwhelming painful. I’m left barely functioning both emotionally and physically! I have always depended on myself, always supported myself and never depended on a man…never-ever! In May I became very ill due to enduring too many stressors. I received a friend request from an old high school boyfriend. So, at a time in my life when I felt so ill & broken, he was there to pick me up. At this time I too was extremely unhappy with my life (marriage, employment & living in AZ). Mind you my marriage/employment had been over a 20yr period. Never been a person of change, very stable & cautious. I had built walls around myself, not letting people in or all of my years of emotional wounds out. Within weeks I told my husband I was leaving and moving out of state. I found I was indulging every detail of my life to “Boyfriend” and he was empowering to make changes! I started to feel alive, feeling a happiness that I thought was forever gone. We talked everyday for hours, he helped me create this image of my new life, even saying he would “tAke care of me”. Helping me get back to my old self. Quickly, with all my heart, I believed in this “fantasy” life, this was fate, meant to be, everything falling into place. Yes, a few bumps such as, husband & niece devastated, my sister’s disapproval-currently not speaking and son having to support/console parents. I’m so humiliated to say all of that did not matter. I was running away from my life as fast as I could, running right to this man who promised to make my life right again….WRONG. Abruptly during the second visit, he had a change of heart. I had my red flags also, but refused to acknowledge them. Honestly, I knew this new found relationship would not have worked. That I can cope with but the loss of this “fantasy” life is unbearable. Boyfriend made me feel again, now all I feel is pain, incredible sense of loss, sorrow, humiliation, guilt , betrayal and most of all the loss of my family. I sit here looking back at my path of destruction! I feel so alone and even more broken than when I began this new endeavor. I no longer care, can not even think of my financial situation as I left a six figure a yr job. Once a strong independent women, now unable to function because the despair is to great. Receiving intensive psychological treatment as my thoughts border the unthinkable. I have never felt so foolish, I let this person in & he threw me away! I have mourned the loss of close family members but mourning the loss of this fantasy seems far greater because the losses encompasses my whole life. Best of luck to everyone in mourning, you can’t understand this now but please know you will come out of this stronger!

  • Karla

    September 17th, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Thank you all so very much for your supportive and kind words and of course for taking the time to read and comment. All of you who are sharing your own experiences of grief, loss and pain, I am so sorry that you are going through this. So sorry for your hurt and your situation. Thank you for sharing your stories and helping others to know that they are not alone. My love and big (((((HUGS))))) go out to all of you.

  • Karla

    January 3rd, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    Thank you all so much for such warm, thoughtful, deep and personal comments. I hope that others will take the time to read through the comments here–they are incredibly helpful. Knowing that others are experiencing similar feelings, even when there are so many differences in grief–can be a balm to a painful wound. Sharing these things with others is so important. Thank you all again.

  • Jackie

    January 5th, 2015 at 10:27 AM

    i lost my soul mate perfect husband to cancer in November 2014 and I feel totally gutte and empty and people say losing a spouse to death or diverse are very similar but I don’t know cause I feel if my hubby was here but left me for divorce at least after a while I could carry on And eventually hate him but leaving me due to cancer I can not carry on and will never hate him always love and miss him xx that’s just my thoughts there are no right or wrong

  • Rianne

    February 12th, 2015 at 3:23 PM

    I start realising I’m missing the contact I’ve never had with my parents. I’ve never been able to talk with them about deeper stuff than just the weather and whether I’ve slept well. Not that they’re not interested, they just dont seem to be able to talk on a bit more abstract level. Any people who have the same? How do you deal with this, since it’s such a vague but still painful loss..

  • hal

    August 6th, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    wonderful article….I can’t say enough about the positiveness the article brought back into my life. Thank you

  • JAMES D.

    May 15th, 2016 at 1:19 AM


  • Anna D

    May 31st, 2016 at 12:08 AM

    Thank you for writing this article. I am dealing with the loss of a hope and a dream. My daughter and her husband have decided not to have children I have kept her Christening gown, her rocking horse and so many things from her childhood, I had hoped and dreamed that some day would be her child’s. My grandchild’s. To me this is extremely painful. Its the loss of a hope and a dream.

  • Ella

    June 2nd, 2016 at 8:33 PM

    I was wondering can you grieve for a life you once had? Say if you loved primary school and then for years you feel as if you are grieving for the loss of your old way of life and friends and teachers. Is this possible? Thank you.

  • John

    December 30th, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    Thank you. After the past election, I realized that the nation that I loved and that I offered my life to defend never really existed. I do need to grieve and “work thru the loss” until I can accept reality. Reading your article helps. I will reach out to others. There is hope there.

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