Tiffanie Smith

They just don’t get it. Unfortunately, they will never understand how to cope with grief until it happens to them. They don’t wake up on this day with that specific person front of mind. Just you are thinking about it…


To some, it is just another day and life goes on. To others they see it on the calendar for months and wonder how they will manage this day. Anniversary, birthday, holiday…It’s hard to think of being without someone you loved and cherished so much …and them being gone for an entire year now.

How to Cope With Grief

Here’s what happens when you or someone you know experiences the loss of a loved one.

Disclosure: I am not a doctor. I do not have a degree in the medical field. I am not a physiologist, nor do I claim to be any of them. However, I have lost my dad, mom, a sister, an unborn baby, all my grandparents, an uncle, teachers, and many other close family and friends. I am here to give you my advice and experiences I have learned from my many losses in life. I hope it helps.

Stage 1: Denial

It didn’t happen. But it did. You’re too late. You dream of her only to feel the pain of losing her again in the morning. You relive that phone call, the moment that shocks and sends you into a deep cry every time you think about her. If I didn’t answer the phone, it wouldn’t have happen. It happened but how could it be true?!

Stage 2: Anger

You get angry at yourself for not being there when it happened. You get angry at her for not calling you. She won’t be at your daughter’s high school graduation, kid's weddings, she won’t meet her great-grandkids, she will never see the fireworks with you, call on holidays, send cards…there is so much she’s going to miss. You get angry at God, your spouse, your kids…because they just don’t understand that you’re still hurting every day and they can just move on like it’s nothing. But you can’t. You fear everyone you love is going to leave you, so you build a wall to protect your heart from hurt…but this only hurts those you’re protecting your heart from. You become closed off and cold. Resentful that they don’t feel your pain. And mad that they just don’t understand you.

Stage 3: Regret

When you think about that year, you just think about the times the previous year they were alive. When you had your chance.  I think, “How I could have called her then, but I didn’t.” Traveling to see her would have been easy, but I didn’t. I could have said “I’m sorry,” but I didn’t. I could have asked more questions, but I didn’t. This leaves a terribly empty space in your heart that no one but you can understand.

Stage 4: Guilt

You blame yourself over, and over, and over. For being alive when she’s not. Your childhood. Not calling sooner. The argument you were having. Being too busy. For blaming her. Maybe if I reached out more, visited more her depression would not have been so bad… Maybe her heart would have been healed and would have pumped for longer if I just told her I appreciated her more. Maybe…just maybe…

Stage 5: Bargaining

Why am I alive? What does life mean? Why does it matter? What am I supposed to do now? I’m just gonna die too. It makes everything meaningless. Or does it give life meaning? I’m so lost.

Stage 6: Depression

No one gets you. “You just don’t understand what I’m feeling. Do you?” The pain never goes away. I get counseling to help. The hard truth is sinking in. Little things become difficult and you don’t feel like doing anything. You can’t figure out why you’re acting this way because you’re supposed to be happy right now…but you’re not. “Momming” today feels too hard. You want to be alone but you never want to be alone. “Please don’t leave me alone”… but don’t get too close either. I don’t know what I want or need. I need HER, as I take “them” for granted.

Stage 7: Acceptance

You start analyzing, what would she want for me? What can I do to make her proud?  To live a life that they created. To LIVE. What does it mean to me to be happy? If I died tomorrow, would I have done what they wanted? Would my kids and husband know what I want for them? Did I help enough people? Did I enjoy the life I was given? How can I do that?

I write it down. The closest things to my heart. My bucket list. My aspirations, my dreams, why do I hold myself back? It’s time to go out and show the world who I can be. I am strong like she made me. I am more capable than I think….and I’m going to prove it to myself and help all those in between. You make a life plan and you start a new beginning because you sure as hell do not want to stay where you were.

But…the 7 stages of grief will start over again soon so be prepared on how to cope with grief.

It comes in different orders, some last longer than others and some last years. If you know and understand that your thoughts and feelings are normal and a part of the grief process you will understand how to heal and cope with grief. Be forgiving to yourself. You will get through this because this is your life now and you must know how to handle it. Grief never goes away. The pain never stops, but you can be ready to accept it and know you’re not alone. Your thoughts and attitude are normal, but what are you going to do about it to help find joy again through the pain?

On days like today, the one year anniversary of my mom’s passing, I just want to crawl in bed and cry all day. I will let that happen a little, but then I want to enjoy the day and wake up to the sun she didn’t get to see this day one year ago. I will journal and look at pictures and share memories of her with my kids today by cherishing the moments I hve and live the life she created for me. For she lives through me now. I will cope with my grief.

After losing my dad 14 years ago, (this month also) and my mom a year ago today, I have learned to manage the cycle and have learned how to cope with grief.

And when the next cycle hits you, focus on these steps to cope with grief.

Stage 1: Denial
You can’t change what happened, so you must learn to live without that person.

Focus on:
Who is going to help. Like me, I lost my mom and dad, so I lean on my sisters. My mom felt like my best friend, so now I’m closer to some friends than I ever was before. You need people to lean on.

Stage 2: Anger
Being angry damages your heart and head. Let the feelings come, but don’t bury them inside.

Focus on:
Exercise. Start kickboxing, weightlifting, boxing, running. Anything to exert energy and get out your frustrations. Cry during your workouts. It’s ok.

Stage 3: Regret
These are facts. You can’t change what happened. You must learn to live differently now.

Focus on:
Journaling. It's the most important thing you can do in this stage. For anyone on your heart…Call…Forgive…Visit…Make time.

Stage 4: Guilt
It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault.

Focus on:
Spend quality time with your family have fun while doing it. It’s okay to smile.

Stage 5: Bargaining
Life is made to be enjoyed. So do it, and be someone you want your kids to look up to.

Focus on:
Write/visit your bucket list, write out dreams, and make quarterly action plans to accomplish them.

Stage 6: Depression
It takes more effort to be unhappy than it does to just enjoy life again. You can make it through this!

Focus on:
Improving yourself. Read personal development books. Focus on good nutrition and exercise. Spend time with friends. Shower and get out of the house no matter what.

Stage 7: Acceptance
You learn how to cope with grief with understanding and forgiveness. You have learned new ways to handle the situations that used to make you freeze up and not move forward.

Focus on:
Gratitude, faith and living in the moment.

Acceptance is not a final stage…

it still happens multiple times just like the other stages so be prepared for this feeling to go away again, but this time, you’ll know what to focus on to help you.

Coping with grief is a lifetime challenge, but it’s manageable if you take the right steps.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave your tips in the comments for others coping with grief.

XO, Tiffanie


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