Life Advice



Words for Grief

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My parents divorced over 20 years ago, and each of them subsequently remarried wonderful people that my sister and I have been so fortunate to have in our lives. Sadly, my loving stepfather passed away last month after a brave battle through a lengthy illness.

Although my parents did not maintain a relationship post-divorce, and he never met my stepfather, my father sent a beautiful note of condolence to my sister and me in the wake of his passing. I was touched by his sentiment and found a great deal of comfort in his words. I'm sharing a portion of it with you in the event that you feel it may bring similar comfort to others:

"Death is regrettably the dark underbelly of life that rips us to our emotional and mental core. It wreaks havoc on our norm and reminds us that what we can control on this earth is limited and the guarantee of life is a daily proposition.

"Fortunately, the human spirit is resilient and allows our memories to penetrate the grief, affording the ability for us to heal over time. Once the initial grief has abated, fond memories of joy, laughter, warmth and the presence of those lost returns. The physical void and sense of loss will always remain, but the pain will dull and be replaced with new perspective and change from within that honors those we have lost. We might find ourselves less quick to anger or judgment and replace those sentiments with grace and empathy. Or we might put aside petty differences and seek a deeper connection with those we hold dear. It is different for each of us.

"I share the above thoughts with you as they have been my experience. Your experience will unfold over time. The one thing I do know for sure is that, while death can take our body, our spirit lives forever in the memories of those left behind."

Annie, thank you for allowing me the space to share. -- Comfort for Grief

Dear Comfort for Grief: Thank YOU for sharing these special words. I'm sure they will provide hope for readers who are in the process of grieving a loved one. I also want to note how wonderful it is that your parents are able to support each other and, most importantly, come together to support their children, even after a divorce.


Dear Annie: I have a friend whose daughter-in-law is pregnant. When I told her a few weeks later that my daughter is also pregnant, she said, "No one should be bringing children into this terrible world." I was so stunned I didn't respond, but I am rather certain she will make such comments again. Annie, I have no clue what to say in response! Any thoughts? -- Excited Grandma and Stunned Friend

Dear Excited Grandma: What an off-putting and unexpected reply to such joyous news. No wonder you were lost for words.

The next time your friend says something less than positive about the pregnancies, bring the focus back to all there is to be excited about. You can't change her outlook on the world necessarily, but you can try not to let it put a damper on your own. A simple, "We can't wait to be grandparents," or "Well, 'Elise' is so excited to be a mom," recenters the conversation on you and your daughter. If you find over time that she's consistently negative, share your enthusiasm with other friends who are equally happy about your newest member of the family.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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