The Pain and the Missing of Grief (and Roger Ebert)

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.  Walt Whitman  

          (as stated by Roger Ebert on his plans for life after death) 

When will the pain of grief end? It will change and it will not continue throughout your entire grief journey with the intensity of your early grief.

When will the missing end? Never.

That is the short answer but I think most grievers would agree that when they have given time, time and they have a rear view mirror gauge to perceive their journey, they will state that the sharpness of the pain no longer leaves as deep a gouge in their heart as previously in their early bereavement.

The Pain:

Grief does change who we are as a human being. It changes our morals, values, beliefs, behaviors and just about everything else that identified us as a human being before the experienced death. That is the pain part of grief.  The fabric of our humanness is now shredded.

The pain incapacitates the griever, is confusing and dominates life for months or years. This part of grief is inevitable but hopefully, this anguish can and will be transformed so eventually, the pain is replaced by remembering and honoring the loss.

The Missing:

You will be reminded of your loss in a variety of situations for the rest of your life. Period. You do not stop loving your loved ones once they are physically absent and therefore, you will continue to miss their presence in your life. Those reminders of your loved one may surprise you and catch you off-guard.  They grasp your awareness and seize your heart and emotions in ways that you cannot anticipate.  They will continue as long as you love.

The Processes:

Intellectually acknowledging but emotionally not accepting the death is confusing. Being aware that acceptance is a long road in itself, (in the grief process) helps in adopting a realistic humility necessary to let go of the pain in order to find the strength, faith, hope and trust to move on in life.

Now, finding strength, faith, hope and trust will not eliminate the missing of your loved one but they may alter the path of your grief journey. By making the decision to open your heart to love again, you will allow your focus to move from the body to the mind to the heart. When this occurs, let this process guide you from the eye of the storm to the center of your heart.

Looking at grief through the lens of your heart allows you to:

  • See that grief will not last forever
  • Encourage you to view life through acceptance
  • Strengthen your hope, faith and trust
  • See grief from a different perspective
  • Can be a catalyst for recognizing the mystery of life
  • Can re-create a new you
  • Can offer you comfort and solace in your grief 

We will always miss our deceased loved ones and will have reminders of our love for them. I choose to celebrate those reminders of that love in a different way…by acknowledging my present situation.~ I am grateful to have survived the early pain of the grief journey. ~I am grateful to have noticed the reminder (of the missing moment situation) to take a moment to think of a positive memory of my loved one. And, ~I am so grateful for the relationship and love I shared and share with my deceased loved ones presently.

The subject of missing reminds me of (and I love) the remark that Roger Ebert (famous film critic who died yesterday on Thursday April 4th) noted in his blog post on Tuesday, April 2nd. He stated that he was taking a “leave of presence” and that he was not going away, that he was going to do what he always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies he wanted to review.

We shall miss Roger Ebert and his movie reviews (thumbs up Roger) as we shall continue to miss our loved ones until we take the seat they have been saving for us!

Wishing you comfort, Chris 


About the Author
Chris Mulligan’s son's death challenged her 25 years experience as an adoption social worker, her MS in Clinical Child, Youth and Family Work and her beliefs and values. Their continuing relationship and ongoing communication changed her and introduced her to a new life of gifts, gratitude and growth. Her book, Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond details these changes and the development of this new relationship. Since Zac's October 2000 death, she has documented over 11 years of communication with him and other spirits on the other side. Her website is: and and her monthly newsletter is "Living Differently."
Helping The Bereaved