photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

Dear Michael:

We love your column in the San Diego paper. That’s why I am writing to you. My best friend just died of breast cancer.  I feel such intense and upsetting emotions, I don’t know how to resume my normal life again.  Help!
Missing Her Terribly in Del Mar


Dear Missing Her:

For most of us, the first weeks and months after the death of someone we love are more difficult than we could ever imagine.  We are often told – after the funeral/services/memorial – that we should get “back to normal” as quickly as possible.  However, for many of us, this is when our grieving really begins.  The weeks and months after a loved one’s death are “messy”: we don’t know what to do and often we question who we are, how the universe could do this, and more.

Forget about being “normal” for awhile.  Grief demands our attention, and the realization of deep and permanent change in our lives hits us hard.  Other friends may grieve in different and surprising ways, and this can lead to tension and misunderstandings.  Cut yourself and others a whole lot of slack.  Do not put pressure on yourself to be free of pain by a certain time period.  Give yourself all the time you need to adjust to life without your loved one.

Maximize your self-care: you may not be able to withdraw from the world while grieving, but you can take extra-special care of every part of yourself so that your grieving process is a time of healing, growth deepening, and, ultimately, transformation.

As you enter this new cycle of your life, you have the opportunity to realize that your willingness to recover and rebuild your life reflects the very best of what your friend has given you…and in that, she lives on.