Three Things I’ve Learned Through Grief

Last year, I lost someone really important and the grief was different than what I had expected. I should have known better than to assume what grief can be or know its complexities. The most simple way to describe my last 6 months can boil down to one word: QUIET.

I got really quiet.

I didn’t want to share much of me. I felt small. I struggled with the thing that I’ve always helped others overcome, “Why should I do ________? What could I possibly contribute to the world that hasn’t already been said or done?” I stopped making things (unless I was being paid), I didn’t read, I felt insecure.

And as I’ve quieted, the voices of others around me have grown louder. And if I’m being honest, the voices around me have probably always been this loud, perhaps I just wasn’t listening. It’s been a time to reflect, to appreciate, to understand and to advocate.

Today I want to share 3 things that I’ve learned during this quietness:

1. I’ve come to learn everyone’s secrets and guess what? We’re all dealing with the same shit. When you listen, people talk. I talk to people online, I have my own close friends, I constantly meet new people at workshops or classes that I teach and we have really deep conversations with our clients every day. We’re all jealous, lonely, insecure, angry, grieving, lonely, joyful, excited and nervous. Did I mention that we all experience loneliness?

So many times, people talk to me like they’re on the outside looking in. That they’re not a part of the circle or tribe that everyone else is a part of. The funny thing is, the person next to you feels the exact same way. Take a deep breath and reach across the aisle. You have a lot to offer. So do they.

Which leads me to number 2:


2. The world wants more of you. We want your full attention. This is something that my husband says to me often. It’s usually when I’m self-analyzing. I’ll grow frustrated with a trait or characteristic that I think is problematic and he’ll say, “I want more of who you are.” I think we do each other a disservice when we’re frazzled, distracted and on our phones. I speak from personal experience, from both sides.

I own a business with my husband and we’ve had hundreds of people sit down across from us who claim our process, our methods or our space is magical. I think the magic comes from attentiveness. When our phones are off, our laptop screen is lowered and we make eye contact, that is truly magical.

How different would the world feel if we all were a little bit more open and vulnerable?


3. External validation doesn’t pay off. Enjoying the process does.

In my 20s, I was always waiting for my big break. I used to see others’ success and was convinced (without a doubt) that that made them happy. Now, I feel myself running away from hype and hustle. I feel strong standing on the ground underneath me.

One of my favorite artists, Dana Tanamachi, says “Live a quiet life and work with your hands” and this is something that I’ve come to understand much more as of late. In this very quiet and humbling phase of my life, I look back to my 20’s and remember a thirst for recognition. I feel content looking into my 30’s with a desire to help people and enjoy the process.

I met with one of my favorite artists while she was visiting Columbus and I asked her how she stayed motivated, inspired and content while making the same type of art over and over. She shared that the process of painting had to be meaningful. The actual daily experience was a priority; not the selling or sharing or finishing. It’s something that has stuck with me and when I feel a restlessness, I think back to that insight.


I don’t have everything figured out but I knew I needed to share this. While I’m still learning, understanding and failing myself, I hope that you feel a little less alone after reading this.

And to my grandpa – who I miss very much – I hope you know that you’re one of the few people on earth that reminded me of how smart and strong I am. I will constantly think back to your words of encouragement after I landed my first job. You said, “Your ability, work ethic, and attitude are the things that got you to this point.” I love you and miss you.

Thank you to Creative Babes for letting me share this story, in-person. You all mean the world to me!

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Comments (112)

  • Thank you for sharing this, I feel like I can relate so much. I also lost my grandpa almost three years ago and I’ve been in a funk for what feels like forever now. I struggle with feeling like I have anything valuable to share with the world, so I really appreciate the encouragement.

    • Alexa, I’d say it’s a huge step for you to even comment and share that with me. I hope you stay encouraged. And it’s okay if you feel like you take 1 step forward and 3 steps back.

  • This is a beautiful message.

  • I really love this, especially the quote, “Live a quiet life and work with your hands.” Really wonderful lessons – thank you!

    • “Aspire to lead a quiet life … and to work with your own hands.” (1st Thessalonians 4:11)

  • So encouraging! Really appreciate this post.

  • Janet Varnes

    While reading your story I recalled something my Father said in his very last days. He said “Write your Books” and that was it. I did not realize he knew what or how much I wrote but he had Googled me and up popped an old Account with Helium that I wrote constantly on for years and he had read and rated each one. Who knew he was

    I have had three major players in my life cross over in the past four years. I am in my mid Fifties so looking back is not a luxury I award myself I have less time ahead than behind me now. It is bitter but sweet.

    I wanted to Thank you for your writing about the “quiet”. I adore it , crave it yet I am afraid to stay too long in it. I am an extroverted introvert so getting myself out of the house is hard but once out I enjoy the hubbub of the City, the laughter and even the ridiculousness that people cannot agree upon. I would not change one thing. No regrets just a few last words from my loved to spur me further into my process.

    Thank you again, I need to get out of this house in a hurry and you have helped me do this !!

    • Susan Christenson

      I love that your dad was watching/reading from the sidelines. That is truly a great story!

  • When we pass psychological and emotional crises always find an open door towards personal peace, so we have to hurry to enter it without hesitation for the real door to create the balance necessary to continue life in peace and peace and a genuine desire for creativity and positive addition

  • So very empowering! Thank you for sharing!

  • An important and timeless message for all. Thank you for sharing I particularly felt moved by your point on the world wanting more. It is so easy to feel connected when in fact we are disconnected. We can fool ourselves into thinking that social media means connectedness, when in fact it can drive us far from being connected to others on a deep and personal level. I appreciate your post.

  • Beautiful. Thank you

  • Nice grief story
    My condolences
    To you

  • Nice grief story
    My condolences
    To you.Take heart,life holds nothing than to give glory to the supreme being.

  • wow! I am so much inspired with this your write up. Keep it up.

  • Found this through discover… Feel the need to comment because I realize I’ve been grieving for the past two years. Over a body that has taken away my plans and scattered my expectations on the floor, over parents who are not likely to change and give me what I need, and yes, I’ve become quiet. I didn’t know how to describe this ‘not wanting to share much of me’ (but also watching those who do, and wishing I would) feeling, but quiet feels accurate. I’ve been figuring out number 1 a bit recently, but the other two are more in the realm of “I see how that’s true, but I’m a ways from living it.” Regardless, thank you for articulating this.

  • Grief and sorrows always come’s in life to test person’s patience,power,self confidence…
    So ,be stong to face every challenge.

  • Arturo pérez

    La soledad es la columna vertebral de nuestra vida. Esto lo entendí cuando mi madre murió. Esta soledad no le asusta porque sin ella no tendría soporte para todo lo que hago y siento.

  • I love the contemplative resolve here. The place of humility is so crucial in our journey. I am there with you, dialing down, quieting my soul, and observing, plowing life and listening. All alone, far from everyone. I fought it at first, but now, I am embracing the season. Alignment comes with every passing moment. The things that were hsrd to view because life was too intense to look upon them have now come to the forefront. There is no more fear in this place of bowing down and being refashioned and pruned in order to bear greater fruit for the greater good. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for sharing this. Just tonight I was talking with a new friend about my loneliness. She and I both came to this place from the same state, far away, and have both had trouble fitting in. Both of us are lonely, though we are in a college setting with many people around us. Tonight she and I committed to bonding with one another and to inviting other women to join us.

    • Wonderful. I am trying to gather the courage to do the same. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who has been timid in making the first move to make friends.

  • You write so beautiful…
    Can relate to your feelings…

  • Great read! I feel many of us don’t know how to deal with the loss of a loved one very well. As I get older I know it’s not getting any easier. I feel there is no right way or wrong way. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  • This is cool. I am inspired.

  • Paul said it first: “Aspire to lead a quiet life … and to work with your own hands.” (1st Thessalonians 4:11)

  • Nwajide Obichukwu

    Nice on dear…I really understand your point…

  • J Blanc

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and magical life experience of yours, Allie. This gives me couragethrough out my day this day and to more days that I’m going to experience. I’m in my quiet days right now but I’m dealing and finding anyway to overcome this. Thank you for inspring me :)

  • Thank you for sharing… You so right underneath we are all dealing with same emotions… I recently started my Blog and writing is a passion I had dabbled with in my 20’s but didn’t take seriously… In my late 30’s I realised that’s my expression of who I am… Thank you for confirming ultimately it’s the ” experience ” that keeps the creativity going… Loved your piece…

  • Thank you for sharing that. It resonates with me.

  • Yes Girl Yes! Success comes at a different time in each of our lives. What is really important is how you define success. If you are happy with your life as it is, never let anyone tell you that it is not success.

  • Lucy Johnson

    I agree

  • Very touching and inspiring!

  • Ah, I absolutely loved and needed to read this. Thank you

  • Thank you so much for sharing this touching story. I found that it resonated with me, especially as someone in my twenties looking toward my thirties. I can see how focusing on the process is a truly important step in our lives. I hope to use your message today to find the joy in the day to day tasks.

  • I loved ur words full of feelings…

  • pretty much i had reach the same conclusion. I wish i had knew it earlier however :)

  • I appreciate you for sharing this. I learnt something today! <3

  • I appreciate you for sharing this. I learnt something today! <3

  • Christina

    Beautiful and I can relate to this as will, I lost my poppy(grandpa) seven years ago and I’m still having a hard time with it and still cry. Very good read thank you

  • Interesting something you wrote here that probably wasn’t the purpose of the post really rwlesonates with me. I lost my sibling 18 months ago. I stopped reading fiction . I’m not quite sure how it happened. For the most park I function. I appear to function. I can lose myself on non fiction and learning but I no longer read fiction for pleasure. I just stopped being able to focus on it without my mind wandering off to sadness land. I hope one day I will be able to enjoy reading again. Heal well. Take your time. The world does indeed need your input.

    • Dawn in Michigan

      I’m very sorry about the loss of your sibling. I can’t quite imagine that, as I am close to my 3 siblings. But we did lose both parents within 5 months of each other, both unexpected. So I understand about distracted thoughts and deep grief. I can tell you that yes, someday you will be able to move back to fiction (and to other things that you once loved but have undoubtedly stopped doing) it just takes time. Some day you will accidentally read a bit of fiction, perhaps in a blog, or a magazine and enjoy it, and then smile because you’ll realize you’re not as lost as you once were. Time will help. Meanwhile, hugs.

  • Mairaj Ali

    Heart wrenching story, I’ve not read the full story because i don’t have such potention to read it. But as we all know this world is mortal, everyone has to go back and that life is real and that life has no end. We can do just “SABR” and leave rest on Almighty Allah :-)
    I know it’s hard enough but we’re also strong enough to face it.

  • Aishwarya Oza

    Reading this article really did make me feel like we are all in this together. Thank you for making me feel like a part of your story. God bkess.

  • Enjoy the process of writing even though I’ve yet to land a book publishing contract: that’s my lesson of recent years, although I’ve published numerous individual poems. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • That was powerful and important, thank you for writing it.

  • Dawn in Michigan

    My condolences on your grandpa’s death. What wise words he gave you, and how wise you are to keep them near in your heart. You have much good advice here. Thank you for sharing.Dawn

  • This piece really resonated with me – I appreciate your openness and gritty honesty. Death and dealing with the grief that never seems to go away after losing someone you love is never easy to deal with. The way we fall into the silence, the quiet is a common part of it all. Life as we had known it can never be the same again, but perhaps there is an added appreciation to life and those we share the most meaningful moments. As a result, time becomes the richest commodity we possess.

  • Not much advice but I feel like you could still use some. Never give up on anything, no matter what, no matter how hard it get’s. In the end when you reach your goal, it will be totally worth it!

  • This was truly a beautiful post. Loved it. I resonated so much with it. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I hope you continue to cherish what you do and enjoy every moment of it.

  • Thank you for making not feeling alone

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. There is no right way to go about grief and I wish there was, it would be much easier than messy emotions. I really admire the way you’ve handled your grief. You’ve recognized it, and the quiet part I especially admire. My grief was the opposite- it was loud, invasive and filterless. I look back and I cringe, I wish I was more graceful in my emotional maturity. Loved reading this, Allie.

  • Tabitha

    That was beautiful story. You helped me e today and surely i it was your presence. That wisdom o of k knowing t that process must come first and that p presence is what people need puts you way ahead of t the game. And you have helped me today to stay inspired and engaged in life.

  • Hello, Allie! I first want to say I’m sorry for your loss. I just lost my grandma in June. It’s hard to lose the people you’ve grown up with that have helped shape you into the person you are today.

    So I have an opportunity for you to share your life story for a website I’m working with. I’m from Blue Loop LLC, a small company out in Mason, OH. We’re currently working on a global initiative called Our Life Logs. Its purpose is to share the life journeys of all people. We believe everyone has a story to tell and our life journeys are all different yet also quite similar. We hope through telling the stories of others we can inspire people. If you’d like to see what I’m talking about, go to my profile or to see examples of stories we’ve told.

    Right now, we’re looking for more interview subjects from any and all backgrounds. The life stories are written up in first person as the interviewee. If you would be willing to share your life journey with us, that would be amazing. I see that you’ve traveled a lot and are a part of a small business. That’s very interesting and we’d love to learn more! You’re also fairly local! Just about a little over an hour from Mason. If you would be willing to let us interview you about your life over the phone or Skype, please let us know. We can be reached by for more information. The people we interview do have an option to be anonymous if they don’t want their name used. Please let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested in participating. If you’d like to learn more of the details, do not hesitate to call (513)-204-2115 or email me.
    Hope you have a lovely day!

  • This is really very nice and this inspired me so much and this gives a very beautiful message

  • I am in my 20’s and by reading this I feel that I am going with the same phase you were in I want to be recognised too I want to do something meaningful with my life. I think this age makes you feel like that. But I also want to become more content and relaxed like you are now.

  • Isbah Premjee

    This is the first blog I have gone through after starting my own and I am overwhelmed by it because believe me when I say this is absolutely amazing because of the connection I can make through this and the reason why I started to pen down everything has been summed up so beautifully here.

  • Woow that was so beautiful to read. I recently went through my close to home grief also and reading your post was so relatable. It’s crazy how much losing a loved one can change your mindset and prospective on life.

  • From what I’ve learned through grief, it seems that being happy and remembering happy moments can let you create a happy world!

    Grief is a good subject and inspiration for a wonderful story. If it could just be nurtured, it could become a great story!

    When grief is caused by people who left this world, they’d find happiness in the next!

  • Charinda

    Thank you for this

  • Your piece on grief really resonated with me. I recently lost someone and I’ve been waiting to share my experience with grief. There is so much that was unexpected. Some good, some bad. All of your points are honest and true. I appreciate the share.

  • Just the post I needed to stumble across! It’s reassuring to know that it’s not just me who has felt the same way in regards to grief.

    Also as someone currently in their 20’s; trying to succeed I often ‘forget’ to enjoy the journey – so I could really relate to this post, take a step back and really have a good think.

    Thank you!

  • I think it is important that you titled this using the word Grief. I think we all associate it with a death. Which it usually is . But the definition of the word is actually deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. I am sorry for your loss. But I think it is beautiful how you made this post relative and gave people a meaning to their feelings whether it be through a death or just an experience in general.

  • I needed this. Thank you

  • I really appreciate the post. It provides people with a good message

    By the way search Mr too… Apicaholism

  • I have gone through the same dear!

  • Can relate!

  • Hi! This was a beautifully written piece. Loved it!

  • E.Wahome

    Great article. And yes, we’re all lonely and so insecure.

  • Thanks for sharing this.

    It was really helpful.

  • Hello,
    What an evocative post. I thought I was the only person who thinks like that. I have experienced my share of grief, heartbreak and loneliness. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow, this was a very inspiring and reflective read. The “world wants more of you” section was especially meaningful to me. Thank you for sharing!

  • Grief and failure in life also can make us stronger as well as teach us the things we really need in our lives whether its people,items etc. It’s all on the perspective we take on a life event.

  • Thank you for sharing. Good to learn that i am not alone in my feeling.

  • I had pets that I have for years to die, the grief was bad. but when my father passed, the grief was unbearable. But he was old and had a lot of health problems.
    But in the last week, I have lost a great-nephew from suicide, and that was horrible.
    He was only 21 years old and I can’t understand what would cause him to do such a thing.
    The kids now a day don’t realize how important mixing acholol is to medications.

  • Hey thanks for sharing. I lost 4 people in one year and it was horrendous. Grief is a horrible thing but also very necessary in dealing and coping with the loss.

  • Thank you so much. I have never read something do relatable to me in every way. I am currently in the “quiet” Phase right now and find it hard to open up and be vulnerable. But thanks again for helping know I’m not alone.
    Please follow me, I am a new blogger and hope to reach out to as many people as possible.
    Thank you again.

  • Maria Rosa

    Thank you for sharing your story! I lost my best friend almost three years ago and I feel lost without him! The grief and loneliness is beyond words! I’m not well and to try to comprehend between life and death is bewildering to me! I hope you find peace in your heart!
    Thank you so much!

  • What a great topic, one I’m personally afraid of discussing so openly. I enjoyed your outlook and determination to just keep staying positive and looking for the healthy outlook on life

  • I agree with your point on Quietness and Pt 1. Sharing my own experience with a similar situation

  • What a wonderful message….It’s lovely.looking forward to hearing more

  • armystie

    nothing to add. Just keep writing and nice to meet you!

  • Tegazara

    Wow beautiful message. ..

  • I really love this.. I’ve been learning a lot of these things from my own journey with loss. Beautifully written.

  • This is aesthetic.

  • This has something. Something I should have known more about life. :'( :'( :'( I don’t know what is going on as I read this message until I become sad at the moment. Thank you for sharing….. <3 :'(

  • Tushar vyas

    Nice one

  • Nice explanation of loneliness which is state of mind for almost all human being which changes as we grow.

  • I like this post! Very true!

  • Loneliness and not finding the people that you really expect is what I’ve been facing all my teenage life…
    I’m still a teenager and i still give my best to offer and help others but everything just seems to be one sided which pisses me off and makes me wonder if i really can find someone i can trust in my life.
    I love what you’ve written!
    I’m new here and i have written 2 poems..
    I’d feel blessed if you took out some time to go through them.
    Lots of love!

  • Utterly beautiful post.

  • Thank you for posting this. I really appreciate your words. They mean a lot to me because it reminds me that everyone goes through the same things in life and we must push through during hard times. It’s always beneficial to have this reflected back on to us to keep us strong. Thank you.

  • Dealing with the same thing and now have a somewhat clearer way of handling it

  • Of all the things I don’t do that I use to, I think I can trace back to becoming more about the finishing. Great reminder to live in the moment.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I lost a dear friend to suicide in January 2017, the year that I was graduating college, the year that was supposed to be one of my most fulfilling years turned out to be one that was awful. Most of the year I woke up thinking about death and it lead me away from faith instead of bringing me toward it. Until my friend’s passing I had never felt connected to death in that way especially suicide. I had lost my peace of mind and my thoughts were constantly swirling. BUT after talking to a counselor and a therapist and doing yoga and telling myself that I was not bringing this evil into 2018, I feel better now.
    It’s amazing what your mind is capable of especially in the wake of grief. I am so sorry for your loss. One thing I have learned is that you have to let grief work its course because you can’t push it away and then after it has been enough you can walk past it and continue living in honor of that person. It gets harder as we get older and lose more people but don’t let it define you & don’t let yourself meditate on it.
    Thank you for having a place for me to share and to read your story.

  • Very well said, thank you for sharing.

  • This is such a beautiful post and I am sorry for your loss and what you have been experiencing. It is never an easy thing to lose someone you care about.

  • “Live a quiet life and work with your hands”
    I love this quotation. I am in my forties now, and have been thinking a lot about how I am much more comfortable now being quiet and alone. I like the companionship of my partner and the bustle of my family, and I make time for friends. I prefer to see friends in small groups or one-to-one though. Also working with my hands has never been more important. Gardening has become incredibly important in grounding me. I feel my soul needs it.
    I am sorry for your loss. You are honouring your grandfather by grieving properly.

  • Arpita

    Even if I haven’t lost anyone I have very close people fading away from my life which gives the same searing pain .

  • I needed this. Thank you for sharing! Also, if you’re in Columbus, I’d love to grab coffee and chat!

  • Jasmine Magofna

    I know the feeling. Stay strong ☺

  • very nice and impressive.. in many ways i can relate with this.. at the point of grief we only thought about our sadness and forgt to notice that in this whole world everyone is dealing with their own shit.inspite of digging up we should try out to be a happy soul.. to mourn but not to stop living.. thank you for sharing…

  • Thank you for sharing this to us, I also feel helpless in the past months. Knowing that anyone else also feel the same, I feel like I have the courage to face the world.

  • Enjoy the process. Couldn’t agree more. We can’t wait to consider the importance of validation. Grief teaches you that. Life is too short to wait for much of anything.

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