We never “get over” grief. Some think the hardest part is watching your parent or loved one die. But that is often just the beginning. In this heart wrenching article (with some strong language) from Scary Mommy, Christine Burke says grief is not a process. It is a journey. And it is a painful, powerful, full of cursing kind of journey that she writes about.

Of course, the pain and sorrow will be present most of the time in the beginning. Even as time goes on, when a slight reminder of your loved one comes up, the pain will hit once again. We all want to share our successes, achievements, and our whole lives with our parents. Not being able to do this can be incredibly painful. We never “get over” grief.

Yet Burke says she is grateful for her grief journey. It has made her a more empathetic person. She now knows how to respond to a friend who has lost a parent or loved one. She realizes that something like doing a friend’s laundry can be more helpful than any casserole you put in their refrigerator. And those flowers you bring are better substituted with simply listening to your friend during their deepest stages of grief.

Grief can make you more understanding of perfect strangers. Burke wishes that she would have had that same understanding on the day her father passed away. She is now aware that you never know what kind of day someone is having. She doesn’t take it personally if  a driver cuts her off in traffic or the cashier is short with her. They may be grieving or struggling as well. You never know the whole story.

We never ask to feel the intense pain and hurt that losing a loved one will bring. Nor will we “get over” grief. But it may get better.