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These Three Words by Donna Terrell

It's been one year, four months and 13 days since cancer killed my daughter. There hasn't been one single day that I haven't thought about her since. I still hear her voice, imagine her smile and feel her touch. During her last two years of life, I cared for her the same way I did her first two years. As tough of a job as it was - it was an honor to care for her. On that very last night, I lay next to her in bed and watched her struggle to take her last breaths. I could do nothing other than try to talk her through it. Afterward, I watched the funeral home attendants respectfully wrap her body in a blue velvet blanket and carry her out of our home, for the last time.

At that point a new journey began - the journey of dealing with grief. I checked in several different places and found several different roadmaps to guide me along this journey. Some roadmaps led me to people who had been on similar paths. Others had heard about the journey but never themselves traveled down this road. But most everyone seemed to have ideas on what they thought I should do to get to my destination - wherever that was. Sometimes their advice helped; sometimes I had to refer to the map. But just as I felt myself veering off the path and into depression, one of my roadmaps led me to a grief counselor. It was there I learned skills to manage my grief. As I continued to follow the road, there was one map that focused on these three words - "it gets better". It was sort of like a road sign telling me what's ahead. But I ignored it and stayed on my journey through pain, sorrow and disappointment.

One day not so long ago, I ran into a neighbor at the elevator in my building. I knew her husband had been very sick but I wasn't sure if he had passed away. As she stepped onto the elevator I reached out and touched her elbow asking her if she was okay. She turned to me, tears swelling in her eyes, and said it had been exactly one month which let me know her husband was gone. She then reached over, put her arms around me and whispered, "Does it get better?" Does - it - get - better. Up until this point, no one had ever asked me that question. I never imagined having to answer it. I'm a griever on my own personal journey. I've been told I'm part of a community of tortured souls - don't block the road! So when asked this question my response was immediate. I didn't have to think about it and yes, it came from a place deep down inside. My answer came from many therapy sessions. My grief counselor told me I needed to cry one hundred thousand tears. I haven't counted every single one but my guess is I'm at about five or six thousand. And that's nothing when you think about it! I have lived through my own private hell. I have cried myself to sleep at night wondering why she had to suffer. I've called out to her so many times asking her if she's now okay - if she can help me with a problem I'm dealing with - if she could just... well you know.

Losing my daughter, my only child, is the toughest thing I've ever dealt with, and it's only been one year, four months and 13 days. I think you get the point - I'm not over this and I never will be. Honestly, I don't want to be. But the words I whispered back to the lady on the elevator have caused me to think over and over again about this journey and the roadmaps I've been following. I whispered these three words - "it gets better..."

Donna Terrell blogs about her grief experience at

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