1. That I could not predict how I would feel or react at any given moment. 

2. That as much as I missed my loved ones I would miss them even more during the holidays. 

3. That my feelings were normal. 

4. That I have a right to be sad. Someone I loved very much was no longer here where I could touch them. If I am angry that is okay too. Anger is a natural reaction to pain. 

5. That taking care of myself and doing or not doing whatever I decided did not make me a selfish person. It just made me human and was my way of coping.

6. That regardless of who gave it or claimed to be an expert at this grieving stuff; I was the only expert on mine; and I was learning one day at a time. 

7. To expect the unexpected. 

8. That regardless of how much others may care about you grief really is a solitary journey. They can walk along side of you but only you can walk through your pain. 

9. That though others in my family lost that person too, relationships are not the same. It doesn’t matter if we are both sons or daughters or parents or siblings; we connected uniquely in life and we will grieve their deaths uniquely as well. 

10. Losses are not solitary but cumulative. When someone we love dies it can resurrect feelings about previous deaths. 

11. That it is okay and usually a good idea to acknowledge the person who has died. 

Some people do this by:

Hanging their Christmas stocking and tucking personal notes inside.  

Buying a gift for someone in need or giving to a charity the money they would’ve spent on their loved one. 

Helping the less fortunate by;

Helping at a soup kitchen or delivering holiday meals to the home bound

Buying a gift for someone in need or giving to a charity the money they would’ve spent on their loved one. 

Keeping a candle lit throughout the holiday or at special times to honor their memory. 

Making remembrance books or DVD’s for friends and family. 

Asking others to share their memories with you. 

Doing something or making plans to do something that person always wanted to do but didn’t get the chance to. 

Beginning a new tradition.

Purchasing books or music and giving them in memory of your loved one to the city or church library. 

Decorating a small or extra tree in honor of or memory of your loved one’s life, using things of significance to them, e.g. sewing notions, sports memorabilia, etc. 

Inviting someone for Thanksgiving dinner that would otherwise be alone. 


Though I may not believe it or want to hear this and that’s okay and in time, I will be okay too.

Deb Kosmer


© 2003

Deb Kosmer

Deb has worked at Affinity Visiting Nurses Hospice for ten years, the first two as a hospice social worker and the last eight as Bereavement Support Coordinator supporting families before and after the death of their loved ones. She provides supportive counseling, developed and facilitates a variety of grief support groups, including a well-attended group for men only as well as other educational events. Deb received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-Oshkosh and her Master’s degree in Social Work from UW Milwaukee. She received her certification in Thanatology through ADEC. Her writing has appeared in New Leaf Magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone, Living with Loss, Grief Digest, numerous hospice publications and EAP publications. Some of her poetry on death and dying will be included in a college textbook for social workers in end of life soon. New Leaf has also used some of her poetry for a line of sympathy and anniversary of death cards. On a personal level, Deb's 14-year-old son died after being struck by a car. Her 31-year-old sister had died in a car accident eight months earlier, and her 56-year-old father died from a heart attack exactly three years before. These three unexpected deaths within three years started Deb on a journey she never wanted to be on and she learned first-hand the importance of having the help and support of others. In the years since, she has experienced other losses, the most recent being the unexpected death of her 44-year-old step-daughter who died from complications three months after routine surgery. Deb's passions are writing, reading, education, nature, and family. She is currently working on a book of her grief poetry. She recently moved with her husband to Waypost Camp, Hatley WI. Her husband accepted a job there as Property Manager and his position allows them to live on-site with acres of woods and a lake. She anticipates the quiet beauty to be a strong catalyst for writing.

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