Ask Golden Willow

Grief: A lifetime process


Dear Ted: I am 14 years old and live in Albuquerque. I heard about you from my grandmother and have a question. My mother died a while back and for quite a while she was in a coma. During this time my grandfather died as well as some other family members. It has been a long a difficult path for me and I am wondering if it will ever get better? Thanks, Alex

Dear Alex: Your bravery to send in this question shows you are walking a path of healing from loss. I am sorry you have already experienced so many losses at a young age.

By consciously grieving, you will build inner strengths that will allow you to grow and heal. Grief is a lifetime process in which you are healing from a loss or several losses. Grief does not take your loss away but gives you the chance to transform that loss from an excruciating wound into something manageable. As time moves forward, you will notice that the pain will subside with less frequency, intensity and duration.

Young people grieve differently than adults, and you will find as you hit different developmental stages, you will have different grief processes. Even though you wish your loved ones were still here physically, you will notice that your love for them can continue to grow. You have the opportunity to build a metaphysical relationship with them in your own way. They will live on through you and your actions.

By interpreting their essence, love and wisdom through your continued healing, you build new ways to grow, be mindful, and possibly "feel" them around you in whatever form gives you comfort. This does not mean that you don't wish they were here physically. That does not go away, but it allows for anguish to decrease while love continues to grow.

In growing and healing from loss, you honor yourself as well as those you have lost. It allows you to become present in your actions and in life rather than be captured by the past and overwhelmed by the future. The death of your loved ones may not ever make sense, but you may find that the loss helps you realize life is precious and fragile. This helps you to be more mindful, kind, and conscious with your actions in your everyday life.

Anguish moves to sadness and missing your loved one and then even transitions to gratitude, passion and motivation. This does not mean those very difficult days won't come, but more and more time will be spent in a place of happiness. Grief is a lifetime process, but it does not have to capture you and rob you of the wonder of your life and the chance to truly shine.

You deserve to find happiness no matter what your history is. You may find more and more joy in your life while you also take those moments to honor your losses. By living your present life with wisdom, you can continue to glean from your victories, losses and experiences. Conscious grieving can help you move forward in your life rather than being captured by your losses.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Ted Wiard, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at (575) 776-2024 or

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat, and they will be answered privately to you and possibly in a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.