The First Step in Conquering Grief


“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6:34.

God won’t leave you where you are. A new day will dawn, and you will find happiness again.

My mother passed away after a year-long decline. Every six weeks, I’d travel from Tennessee to New York to visit her and to help my sister who had become the principal caretaker. For ninety-two years, my mother graced this world, and her time to die had come. God determines the length of our lives, and hers was a good run.

Still, the pain was unbearable.

As I wrote in last week’s blog, surgeries and unexpected deaths of others close to me compounded the pain of my loss. With the death of my brother, anguish ripped through the sorrow that had begun to mend.

How did I begin to heal?

Mom had been an alcoholic. Sober for over fifty years, she still hung onto one of the guiding principles of AA. That guiding rule is the answer to the above question. Be warned. You won’t like the answer.

How do you begin to heal from grief? These four points give one answer.

  1. One step at a time.
  2. One day at a time.
  3. If one day at a time is too long–one minute at a time.
  4. Grace and time. And the time comes, one step at a time.

AA jives with the Bible in the idea of taking one step at a time. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, tells us not to worry about tomorrow. His grace is sufficient for today. After you have grieved, perhaps paralyzed with inaction, once you can move or think, take a step. Pick up something and do it.

In my family’s case:

In order to heal, I went with my brother and sister to the funeral home and made arrangements. I wrote the obituary. With the funeral settled,  I looked over the legal work required of me as executor. I made the first calls for settling her estate.

For my sister, this process didn’t work. Instead, her first steps were to clear out my mother’s room and return it to the guest room it once was. For many people, cleaning out a room is far too difficult and put it off until months later. For others like my sister, legal work needed to languish. The choice is personal, but the truth is to take a step forward.

Once back in Tennessee, I begrudgingly picked up my glass work. I’d go to my studio, putter and organize and within half an hour, I’d return to the house and immerse myself in a novel. Over time, the glass work became something I didn’t need to force.

Today, my step forward is my writing–thus this blog.

I can’t promise that as you take a step, your trajectory will always propel you forward. Times came when I thought, I slipped three steps back for every step forward I took. Over time, healing came.

As I hiked with friends the other day, one said to me, “It is so good to hear you laugh again.” I stopped. Thought. Yes, I was laughing. I loved life. Grief didn’t pound my soul.

In Isaiah 41:10 God says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Is. 41:10

One day at a time. Easy does it. You won’t be in the same place as others–even those sharing the same sorrow. You’ll be where you’ll need to be, and God promises to strengthen you and to uphold you.

Borrowed Lives

Everyone’s life is but a breath. We’re not promised tomorrow, but tomorrow can be brighter even though we suffer. Meredith Jaynes learns this truth–and learning the truth isn’t always easy. She finds three girls and what do little kids do? They make you laugh, they love unconditionally.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the book before book three arrives in July.




The best resource I found for quickly assessing the stages of grief.



  1. Yes, one breath at a time. Admitting you have the right to grieve is part of the healing process. Being in charge of legalities after a parent’s death–being a legal secretary, I was both times–is difficult almost beyond belief, but as I met each challenge, I realized i was easing into grief much better than my siblings were. Stick with it, Carol.

    • Carol McClain says:

      Grief is a shared human experience. We’ve all gone through incredible pain. Knowing it’s shared helps the healing.

  2. Thank you, Carol, for your words of wisdom and life.

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