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The toughest part about losing someone or something you love isn’t saying goodbye. It is trying to find the courage to go on and learn how to live without them.

It’s unclear which pain is worse: the shock of what happened, the immediate loss or the desperate ache of trying to pick up the pieces and move on.

The hard part is nothing you can say or do can make the pain of loss any better. It just sits there in your life. It happened, but you are helpless.

It happened fast, without notice. This week, my family lost one of our beloved members; my Mom and Dad’s chocolate Labrador retriever died suddenly.

One minute she was prancing around in the yard. Seconds later, she was dead. That’s the thing about death. It takes its victims when we least expect it.

Losing a loved one cracks your heart open and leaves you exposed. You’re never ready to say goodbye. Ever. Yet it's a very real, natural part of life.

The thing about death is no matter how prepared you are, it will always shock you. The grieving process has a way of showing us what we're really made of. The more you loved, the more painful the passing. Death, tragedy and loss allow us to go deeper into our souls and see what we value most. It’s not always a bad thing.

Even so, I wish someone told me what to expect. But until you're in it, you can’t understand. From my heart to yours, anyone who is grieving, or getting through a loss, a break up, divorce or death of a loved one, this list is for you.

1. We don't actually get over losses. We absorb them, and they redirect us into a more grounded way of living.

2. You'll discover depths of your love you never knew existed.

3. Never regret loving the way you did. Love is always worth it.

4. People may say hurtful, stupid things. Don’t take it personally. They are often just trying to help.

5. There isn’t always a spiritual aha moment or a reason. Sometimes, it just is what it is.

6. Know you did the best you could with the time you had. Forgive yourself. There is nothing more you could have done or said.

7. Anger is normal. Feel it. Embrace it. Allow it to work through you.

8. Death brings out the best in families. It will also bring out the worst. Be prepared.

9. Losing a loved one might make you question your purpose and your own goals. That can be a beautiful thing.

10. You will find comfort in the most unexpected places.

11. Sudden bursts of emotion are part of the process. Allow yourself to be fully present in them.

12. There is no such thing as normal when it comes to grieving. Be patient and kind to yourself.

13. People will show you who they truly are. When times are tough you will see others true colors.

14. You will never go back to being your “old” self.

15. There is no timeline for grieving.

16. Losing a loved one reminds us of what matters most in life. Don’t lose perspective.

17. Experiencing great loss is an opportunity to drop the ego and live more from your heart.

18. Numbing the pain will make it worse. don't procrastinate the process. Feel your feelings.

19. Your life was richer and more wonderful because of the love you had.

20. What feels like the end is often a new beginning.

By Shannon Kaiser