Here's what I've learned:
1) Pain is personal. How we deal with it is an individual matter. Dealing with grief and recovering from loss is defined differently by all of us. We can't expect everyone to conform to our expectations of grief. It can't be rushed. You can't put a time frame on it, but you can't suppress it either. There is a necessity in grieving a loss.
2) People, with good intentions, try to lighten death and make us feel better with words. But there's nothing light about death. Saying "He or she is in a better place" is no comfort to me. I don't want them in a better place. I want them with me. Spending holidays, birthdays, vacations with me. Watching my daughters grow, attending preschool, elementary, high school and college graduations.
3) How you choose to deal with pain can define the rest of your life. If given lemons, would you make lemonade or let the lemons rot? You can wallow in grief and self-pity or you can confront them head on and not allow them to take control of your livelihood. Believe me, this isn't an easy choice for a griever. In most cases, self-pity is the easier path. It's the one that, at that very moment, makes us feel good. But long term it's the worst decision we can make for ourselves. It can have devastating effects.
The hardest decisions and choices to make are probably the right ones.
4) Strength and character are a direct result of pain and adversity. Isn't there a saying, "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger?" It's so true.