When tragedy happens everyone runs to be by your side. The beauty of human nature in the midst of unthinkable circumstances can be truly inspiring, and profoundly encouraging.

You hear every kind, sincere and beautiful promise possible by people who believe in everything they say.

“I promise to help you on the hard days.

I promise to teach the kids about their Dad/Mom.

I promise never to forget.

I promise to step up and play a role.

I promise to be by your side when you cry or just need a friend.

I promise to say their name.

I promise to stay….”


They mean it. Honest, they do.

Nobody who makes these promises does so thinking they won’t make good. Nobody makes these promises and thinks they will let you down.

They do let you down.

It’s not their fault. They don’t understand what it is they are promising. They believe you will heal; you won’t need them in a year, or two or ten.

In time…they burn out.

They feel uncomfortable saying their name.

They move on and expect you to do the same.

They tell themselves that if they bring them up, they will make you sad, or stick you in the past, or do you some harm.

They tell themselves that if they ignore your loss, it will help you be happier sooner.

They go back to their lives, forgetting your life was altered without your consent or permission and will never go back to what it was.

They promise the world on the day you said goodbye to your world.

They promise to stay.

They can’t.

It’s too hard for them.

It’s too hard for you as well, but you don’t have a choice, you have to stay because the loss belongs to you and it sits in your heart forever.

You feel anger and deep disappointment in their broken promise. You try to make them understand, and then they question your healing process and tell you that you aren’t doing this grief thing right.

You must understand that they can’t stay.

They should, but they can’t.

They don’t understand.

They don’t care to understand.

It’s too hard. It’s too real. It’s too sad.

They should stay, but they won’t unless they’ve walked a similar road and they understand what an actual life after loss looks like.

They will stay only if they know that love never dies.

That we never forget.

That we never stop carrying the loss with us, and somehow we can enjoy every moment of our lives but still feel the horrific pain death left in its wake.

They will stay if they know how much the kids do need to know stories about their Dad/Mom.

They will stay if they know you will love what you lost forever, but you can also love what comes next in your life

They’d all stay if they knew….but they don’t, so they can’t.

Forgive them their ignorance and make sure you stay when their day comes.

It comes for us all.

When YOU stay, regardless of their absence, you push our society forward, and we will start to heal generations of grief apathy.

They should stay.

We all should stay.


Michelle Steinke-Baumgard is an author, speaker, fitness coach, mother and remarried widow. After losing her husband Mitch in 2009 she turned to exercise as an outlet for grief and a way to handle stress. Michelle found it so powerful that she eventually quit her corporate job to become a fitness trainer. Since then Michelle has been featured in Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine, Woman’s Day Magazine, contributed to articles for Prevention Magazine, The Huffington Post, and countless other media outlets. In addition to her virtual training business, Michelle recently launched her own non-profit focused on helping widows and widowers complete bucket list dreams to honor their late spouse while moving boldly into their future.

Pick up a copy of Michelle’s new book on presale, Healthy Healing, and learn how and why fitness matters during life’s hardest moments.


Never miss another blog. Sign up for Michelle’s newsletter here: