Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that most of the topics relate to finances, spending or taxes. Today will be one of those times that I deviate from the usual.

This past July, my father-in-law died. He was the last of our parents and the last of our children’s grandparents. As we have navigated through the various issues that arise in these situations and in thinking through the passing of our other three parents, I have noticed some things.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

The only right way to grieve is the way that works for you. In our family, there are some who really need to be around other family members. Others need to be alone and seem angry when family members try to comfort them. Some go back and forth between wanting to be with family to wanting to be alone. Others don’t seem to be grieving at all, and then you realize they are privately grieving or it hits them weeks later.

Grief hits you at times when you least expect it.

When my mother died, my sister and I were cleaning out her apartment. I saw my mother’s shoes in the closet and the grief and loss were overwhelming. So strange that a pair of shoes would be the trigger. When you are in that process, give yourself grace and freedom to walk through those periods even though the triggers seem bizarre.

Holidays are tough.

The first year of holidays — Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, anniversaries and others — are really hard to get through. You just want them to be over and you want to be done with the feelings of emptiness and loss. For me, keeping my senses open to unexpected blessings helped. These blessings might be a card from a friend, a hug from someone, or a kind word.

Even after that first year, some holidays may still affect you and that’s okay. My mother has been gone for more than six years. This past Christmas, I missed her terribly and thought about her almost daily between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sometimes people don’t know what to say to you.

When you have a loss, people often don’t know what to say. They may avoid you or they may say the wrong thing. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care; they just don’t know how to help you through your loss. Learn from what helped you and what didn’t and use that to help others in the future.

We all have losses in our lives. Give yourself grace to grieve and time to walk through it.

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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