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Illustration by Ruth Basagoitia

When we talk about grief — if we do — it’s often framed around the concept of the five stages. You’ll work through each stage (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) after a loss, then magically you’ll feel whole again, right?

In a culture that’s uncomfortable with having conversations about grief, this neat concept of healing — of things being restored to the way they were — can comfort the person mourning, as well as those surrounding them that don’t know what to say.

Unfortunately, this isn’t how grief works.

People experiencing deep loss are navigating a new normal and developing a way to deal with grief’s profound questions, unexpected moments, and complicated scenarios.

In the 10 stories in The Other Side of Grief, an undeniable thread emerges: A deep loss isn’t something you “move on” from or “get over.” It’s life-changing.

Even years later, the authors write that a sense of deep loss comes in cycles, is hidden in the nooks of your house for you to unexpectedly stumble upon, and becomes a part of you forever.

There’s no right way or one path to heal after a loss. The articles in this series show the various aspects of grieving, from trying to find a glimmer of happiness in goat yoga to rediscovering physical intimacy.

Maybe you think grief hasn’t touched you yet.

We ask you to reconsider. The depth of mourning after a loved one’s death may be inconceivable, but the feelings aren’t completely unimaginable. After all, you can grieve devastating breakups, chronic diagnoses, infertility, or Old Yeller.

Grief isn’t a contest of who loses first or most.

When someone you know eventually meets grief, we hope these stories embolden you to break the silence that often settles after the funeral and ask, “How are you?”

These stories also celebrate life after death. Each story works its way toward a new normal, a new dynamic, a new routine.

There’s solace in exploring this resilience together, to holding each other up, to sharing — and listening to — the other side of grief.

— Whitney Akers, features editor and Sara Giusti, copy editor and series contributor

Read now:

When I Became a Widow at 27, I Used Sex to Survive My Heartbreak by Anjali Pinto

From Crystals to Goat Yoga: The Wellness Trends I Tried to Heal My Grief by Theodora Blanchfield

After Losing the Love of My Life, I’m Dating for the First Time in Decades by Jim Walter

I Forgot to Say a Final Goodbye by Brandi Koskie

How It Feels to Grieve for an Abortion You Don’t Regret by Jacqui Morton

The Terrible Nature of Alzheimer’s: Grieving for Someone Who’s Still Alive by Kari O’Driscoll

The Cost of Death: Coffins, Obits, and Valuable Memories by Sara Giusti

Infertility: The Loneliest Club I’ve Ever Belonged To by Brandi Koskie

Grieving for My Old Life After a Chronic Illness Diagnosis by Angie Ebba

Breakup Grief: Did Your Worst Breakup Change You? by Juli Fraga

Editor: Whitney Akers
Illustrations: Ruth Basagoitia
Contributors: Anjali Pinto, Jim Walter, Brandi Koskie, Theodora Blanchfield, Jacqui Morton, Sara Giusti, Kari O'Driscoll, Angie Ebba, Juli Fraga
Production: Nadia Najd
Special thanks: Rita Mauceri


Whitney Akers is an editor at Healthline.