For this story, I want to share some uplifting comments that I’ve made to other people. I think these messages allow me to share so much of what I’ve learned from my personal grief journey.

The images are close-ups of my floral watercolor paintings.

To my friends in grief:

You aren’t okay and can’t expect that anymore. Your mind can’t accept it and that is why you are numb; it is actually a cushion. Grief truly is a journey. I once described it as my “ocean of tears” – I couldn’t fight the current and just floated farther and farther from where the pain began. I can honestly say that there were times when I just wanted to let myself drown.

I remember how I didn’t know what I was reading or watching. The shock of my loss seemed unbelievable. I kept reliving it over and over and had no ability to concentrate. Gradually, it moved to the side. It was still there, but not blocking everything like it did in the beginning.


The courage and energy it takes to survive the loss of someone we loved so deeply deserves to be acknowledged with more love and tenderness to your own heart. You have every reason to be angry with your family for not understanding. I do hope that someday your anger will dissipate. When I was angry and disappointed with other people, it just magnified my grief.

I was wondering how it went today for you. I’m glad he appeared to you when you were eating. It’s very important for you to eat and that’s why he came to calm you. You must stay healthy by eating. Many grieving people develop serious health problems from grief. It might seem like it doesn’t matter, but it can be devastating on top of grief. I really care.

Rose group

I know that you can hardly imagine how you survived two years as you have. Surviving grief is a miracle. Finding joy in life again is next to impossible. But it is not impossible, because I did. Never lose hope. It is possible to see color in the world again.

I healed from grief when I released my honest feelings after years. Your anguish can be expressed – even if you do it only for yourself. Don’t stop telling the truth about the horrific abyss you are constantly living with.

Flowers 4

The lyrics you shared from the Simon and Garfunkel song “I Am a Rock” are a beautiful analogy for grief. I love how you eloquently wrote this line: “We may not be able to become a rock but we most assuredly can become an island.”

How true that is! Here are definitions for an island: isolated, detached and surrounded. What a perfectly metaphor to describe how grief shipwrecks us in a place where there is little human contact and tears cannot even be seen or heard.


I know for certain that wherever my grief has taken me, the people whom I’ve held hands with will never be forgotten. Once I was lying on the ground and I couldn’t walk another step. Then several hands reached out to pull me up. Now I am reaching to people on the ground in the same way.

I have watched you trudge forward over these three years. I cannot describe how touching it is for me to see you helping others. You tenderly reach out your hand even though you are still trembling from your own anguish.

I am certain your son is next to you, embracing you with his light and strength.

Flowers 3

To my friend whose husband has dementia:

You really are in the worst kind of limbo. You are faced with emptiness, but this is not the time where you can fill it. You’re just watching him fade away from you. Trust me, one day you will slowly fill that space, but for now you are coping with impending loss.

The worst part about your situation is that acceptance is unreachable. The progression of the disease and the fact that your needs have been supplanted makes it that way. It is temporary, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.

Anticipatory grief is as painful as the grief over someone’s death. It is real. I cannot know how it will be after he is gone, but I can tell you that for years I grieved terribly for my mother who suffered from dementia. It won’t be easy after he is gone, but you will be surprised in many ways at how much grieving you’ve already done. Sending you a hug.

Flowers 2

To my friend who is terminally ill:

If you lived near me, I’d be bringing food over and serenading you. For now, I like to imagine it.

You are not wimpy, as I see it. You are so courageous and thoughtful. As long as you are able to make decisions, it’s important that you trust in yourself. I certainly think you have a wise handle on what is happening. Pain is a horrible thing. Even temporary relief might be what you need right now. Sending love and light to you, my brave friend whom I have grown to deeply love.

Bird of Paradise closeup

It amazes me how you are struggling physically, while at the same time being completely in joy of making it through another day. What can I say? You are an inspiration to every human on this planet – most certainly, me.

Your description of what you are dealing with sounds tough. I know this is somewhat of a battle. You will leave when you are ready – but because you love life, that is such a hard choice. I pray that this current situation will let up and that your transfusion today gives you a bit of relief.

Flower Pallette cropped 2

I am selfish because I want you around a lot longer. You are so special to me. But please don’t hang on to suffer. Just the thought makes me sad.

Grief is such a lonely and personal journey. I often tell people (and myself) that our loved ones wouldn’t want us to suffer. It would comfort you greatly if you knew you could pass on and leave your family behind without them suffering from grief. What can I say? With great love – the absence is hard to fill. You are leaving a huge hole behind for so many.

Flowers 1

Every time I read what you write, it feels like I’m reading a fabulous book I wish would never end. It is what makes me appreciate you even more. Each page holds delight, and I never want to reach the last one. So I savor each page as it turns.

I think your last lines hit upon something so sweet. How often I’ve heard it said that we are truly alone when we are born and when we die. Your concept of arriving into loving arms and being sent off that way is so comforting and beautiful. Not every person is lucky to have that kind of love.

You are such a loving woman – you deserve to leave this world knowing how many people will miss you and treasure the kindness you so freely shared.

I count myself as one of them.

Flower Pallette cropped

© 2016 by Judy Unger and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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  1. jmgoyder says:

    I have no words adequate to respond to this exquisite post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      I was wondering what you’d think, since on some of that post I was writing to you and Sandra. My blogger friends have found a way to burrow inside my heart. I am very lucky to have you both.


  2. thejuicenut says:

    Your flowers are beautiful.
    I have nominated you for an award!


    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much! I am honored. Not sure what the award is – but very thoughtful of you. The link above leads to a blank post, so if you correct that – just let me know. Thank you again. 🙂


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