My Grief Care

Foundations Of Grief

14 Episodes

Episode 9 : The Impact of Who you Lost and How you Lost Them


Episode Notes The Impact of Who You Lost Question Sheet

The Impact of Who you Lost and How you Lost Them

Who you lost, and the manner in which they died will factor into your grief experience which is why everyone’s experience is different.

It’s important that you expect your grief journey to be completely unique. In fact, not only will your experience be unlike anyone else’s experience, it will be different than any other grief experience that you have had in the past, or will have in the future.

Let’s first examine relationship factors. Consider these questions:

  • How long was your relationship with the person you lost?
  • How deeply entwined were your lives?
  • Would you categorize the relationship as intimate or distant?
  • Was the relationship mostly positive or negative?
  • Were there unresolved relational issues?

These questions just begin to touch on how your relationship influences your grief. But let’s pause for a moment and consider how your personal heartache can be shaped by just one of these questions. A good example would be the implications of a mostly positive relationship versus a mostly negative relationship.

If your relationship with your loved one was positive overall, the source of your grief and the depth of your pain will be about missing the good you once had. On the other hand, if your relationship was more negative than positive, your pain of loss will be primarily about unresolved issues, unhealed relational wounds and the disappointment of what you never had. It makes sense, doesn’t it, that you would grieve quite differently depending on this factor?

The second major factor that influences your grief journey pertains to the circumstances around your loved one’s death. 

Consider these questions:

  • Was your loved one’s death sudden and unexpected? Or was it predictable due to a long-term illness or advanced age?
  • Do you attribute your loved one’s death to some type of negligence? Or was your loved one a sensible and healthy person who lived intentionally and cautiously?
  • Do you think your loved one died at “too early” an age? Or did she/he enjoy a long, satisfying and meaningful life?
  • Were you able to say “good-bye” in person? Or were you prevented by distance or some other factor?
  • Were you the primary caretaker for weeks, months or even years prior to your loved one’s death?

Again, the answers to the questions reveal how your grieving experience is influenced by circumstance. Let’s just briefly compare a sudden death to an anticipated, gradual death? If you experienced the sudden death of your loved one, you had to deal first with the shock of the unanticipated death. Such a death can be especially devastating, initially. Your focus was probably on just surviving.

Conversely, a gradual and anticipated loss can often provide the opportunity to grieve in advance of your loved one’s death. In some cases, that can ease the blow of their passing. Yet if you were a primary caretaker of your loved one for months, or maybe even years, you will likely struggle with an internal conflict between the grief and the relief you feel.

Another major factor in determining the trajectory of your grief journey are the practical implications related to the loss of your loved one.

  • What if you suddenly became a single parent with seemingly endless responsibilities?
  • Did your loss leave you with financial stability or precarious financial straits?
  • Are you surrounded by caring friends and family or a complete lack of human support?
  • Are you struggling with complex problems to solve or a relatively stable situation?
  • Do you have your own health care challenges? Or are you generally healthy?

These are just a few of the endless combinations of practical issues on your plate that would make your life tough, even if you weren’t grieving. Such complexities may cause you to stuff your loss-related emotions and rob you of the option to grieve at your own pace.

The primary point here is that no grief journey is like any other. Every lost loved one will initiate a time of recovery, and so begins the challenge of healing, adjusting and redefining your future life. Cookie-cutter grief journeys do not exist; one size does not fit all. So, how do you find your way through all these variables?

What you are experiencing might be compared to navigating the ocean. Sailors must contend with all sorts of weather conditions, strong currents and wind shifts to safely reach their intended destination. They cannot control any of these, nor can they see past the horizon before them. But with a little help, they will make the necessary adjustments and eventually find their way to a new safe harbor.

Everyone in the midst of their grief journey will be subject to all sorts of life demands and problems, along with the personal grief with which we all contend. What you are facing right now is indeed a significant and difficult journey. It isn’t just a bump in the road, so let’s not treat it as such.

Our goal is to offer you some guidance, assistance and encouragement throughout your grief journey. We start by educating you about grief and loss. We want to normalize your fears, acknowledge your pain and empathize with your struggle. As you learn and adjust, we will seek to guide you toward healing with very intentional exercises. 

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, let’s just focus on understanding grief and loss, as you contend with your current challenges. As I will often say, this is a journey, not a foot race. While we’d like it to be over, trying to find shortcuts almost always ends up extending the journey.


  • Every grief journey is different for every loss you experience.
  • Your journey is greatly influenced by the type of relationship you had with your loved one, the circumstances around your loved one’s death, and the practical issues you must contend with during this time of mourning.
  • Understanding and acknowledging the implications regarding your specific loss is foundational to healing.


Print out the downloaded outline attached and take the time to answer the questions I’ve listed within this episode. Record your answers and then consider what you think are the most influencing factors in your grief journey so far.

I’m not going to leave you with a particular reflection because I think I’ve given you plenty to think about already. 🙂