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Common Fears While Navigating Early Grief

And how these fears can hold us back

Learning how to cope after the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things we will encounter in this life. It’s a lifelong journey where we are constantly transforming and evolving.

What helped tremendously in the beginning was knowing that I wasn’t alone. All the feelings I had were normal and part of the process; the good ones and the not so good ones.

As we step into unknown territory, there is an overwhelming sense of fear as we begin to navigate healing.


These are three of the most common fears we experienced during the beginning of our journey through grief

Fear of Never Finding Joy Again 

Loss often leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless. We don’t know where to go or who to turn to. The pain that comes with grief can initially leave us feeling like we will never experience a true sense of joy again.


At least that’s how it was for me. I can distinctly remember several moments where I thought to myself, “So this is it? I now have to finish out my life stuck in a constant state of sadness and anger?”


It’s not God’s desire for you to live a miserable life. He gives you permission to work towards moving past the guilt and truly enjoying yourself, and your life, again. We just have to take it one day at a time.


Some of the greatest parts of our testimony will come from the deepest valleys we walk through.


Part of healing is opening your heart up to let the joy in. Initially, I didn’t want to feel the joy. I couldn’t even fathom a day where I would feel happy again, laugh again, or feel like I actually loved my life.


But that day does eventually come. The joy does eventually return. It takes you playing a part. We can’t just sit back and wait until we are happy enough to enjoy the small things. We have to make ourselves do the small things that will ultimately bring us joy again. Maybe that means revisiting old hobbies or finding new ones entirely. Maybe that means looking for the pockets of joy in our everyday routines or in our interactions with others. We can take back control of our happiness by choosing to actively enjoy living our lives again.

Fear of Forgetting Our Loved Ones

We often think that the pain we feel is directly connected to the love we had for the one we lost. We don’t want to move forward, sometimes in fear of forgetting them. What if I forget what their voice sounded life? What if I forget how it felt when they hugged me? If I’m not thinking about them all of the time, will they think I just moved on and erased them?


The intensity of our grief is not a measurement for how much we loved them.

You will never forget the person who died and meant so much to you. I will never forget my daughter, and not a day goes by where I don’t think of her. I miss her terribly every day. But it is possible to simultaneously make peace with the fact that they are no longer here. We eventually have to remember that we must continue to press on with our own life, and that in doing so, it doesn’t erase the memories we have and cherish.

Releasing our pain is not releasing our love. Letting go is not the same as forgetting.

Along our journey, we will find certain ways we can celebrate the life of the one we lost. We can revisit places they loved. We can journal about our deepest feelings or write down our favorite memories we shared together. We can display photos of them so they are still included in our everyday.

It is possible to learn how to let go of the pain without letting go of the love.

Fear of Being Judged for How We Grieve

Even though grief is something we all go through at some point, the process is extremely personal. Even my husband and I grieved differently from each other, and we suffered from the same loss. We’re taught that grief is a linear process, and we move through 5 different stages: denial, bargaining, depression, anger, acceptance. Once we reach acceptance, people often expect us to be “back to normal.” They think we’ve got this now.


Speaking from personal experience, I would argue that grief is not linear. We don’t move through these 5 stages and then that’s that. Grief really is a circular process. And as time goes on, there are moments where we still can’t believe what has happened. We grow angry again. We have days where we feel depressed. The difference is we may move through the stages quicker as we learn certain ways to cope and deal with those intense feelings.

There does come a day where loss doesn’t define you. Where it becomes just a chapter in your story. It’s not a process that we can rush, even though sometimes we may want to. This path towards healing is one we may be on the rest of our lives. But we can learn how to navigate it well.

It's not about "getting over" the loss, but learning how to live with it, to heal from it, and to rebuild after it.

Need more practical tips for navigating grief? Check out my free e-book, "Tips for Healthy Grieving"




Definitely right on target !



I've been where you are (loss of a wife and not a child), and you are definitely right on target with dealing with your grief.

I pray that you and your family will heal from your grief through God's Almighty Grace.



This is such good insight and great practical advice. Thank you.


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