Learn How to Move Grief to a Supporting Role

Grief as a supporting role

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Short and Sweet Summary: Are you the director in the story of you? Or is grief still hogging the spotlight and debating about what’s best for your show? As the director, you have the creative vision for your production, so maybe it’s time to move grief to a supporting role and stop letting it monopolize the stage.

Chances are grief has commanded center stage in your life since your husband died.

It’s the star of the show. The lead actor in the story of you. Grief prevents even the smallest appearance by other players like happiness and joy because they take away from the spotlight.

Grief likes the spotlight.

It’s in every scene. It takes up the whole stage, maybe even the whole theater. Grief debates with the director (you) about how to run the show. You try really hard to balance grief’s appearances with the other supporting roles and want desperately to give everyone a chance in the spotlight.

But grief sits like a petulant child in the middle of the stage, refusing to budge.

Now what?

How do you get it off center stage and move grief to a supporting role instead?


As much as you want to remove grief from your show completely, it’s not going anywhere. It’s part of your life now and you need it to continue the production. The key, however, is to reclaim your rightful job as the director of your own show.

When you’ve had enough of grief’s scene-stealing antics, you politely, and firmly, redirect grief to a supporting role instead. As the director, you have the creative vision for your production. You decide who and what gets top billing. Directors know what’s working and what’s not, and they adjust the storytelling accordingly.

Even though you try to move grief to a supporting role, it still demands much of your attention. Because all grief really wants is acknowledgment and recognition. So you foster its new role instead of ignoring it altogether. You start to collaborate with grief instead of clashing and disagreeing.

And you make improvements along the way.

A director reshoots a scene again and again until she gets it right. Some days grief demands to be heard so you test the scene and make adjustments. You might take five and just sit with grief for a while. The next day, you might make a choice to not allow grief an opportunity to derail your production. You’re the director. It’s up to you to shoot the scene however you like.

When grief is no longer hogging the spotlight, you can focus on bringing happiness and joy back to a recurring role. You can use your directorial influence to give every emotion and every feeling its due time on stage.


Your post-death life story has many distinct characters. Grief, anger, worry, regret, and fear to name a few.

Cast of characters in the production besides grief

Happiness hides at the very end of the order of appearances. A bit player. Where are comfort, calm, satisfaction, and confidence? Nowhere to be found. If your cast of characters doesn’t include some positive players, your show is unbalanced.

An unbalanced show isn’t believable or relatable.

In order to have a charismatic and interesting production, happiness and its cohorts must come out of hiding. If happiness is off to the side of the stage, cowering behind the curtain and waiting for intermission, it’s time to bring it back on stage.

A good director knows how to encourage and improve all the characters to deliver an engaging performance. It’s time to uncover, recognize, and nurture your positive players to bring out their best qualities.

It’s difficult dragging characters back on stage kicking and screaming. But you know they belong there. They know they belong there. It’s just been too long since they’ve been in any scenes, so it will take some practice to get back in the game.


What do these positive characters want? Acknowledgment and recognition as well. Just like grief, they need to know they matter too. Change the cast’s order of appearance once in a while. Manipulate the scenes to let the positive players have some time in the spotlight, too.

Change your story whenever something doesn’t suit you.

Whereas the first scenes are all about fear and dread, happiness and laughter make a surprise appearance in Act I. They beg for a bigger role so you try to reintroduce happiness, joy, and laughter in Act II more often.

And grief is still in all the scenes, but now it’s sharing the spotlight instead of monopolizing it.

Scenes and musical numbers playbill

You’ll start to realize that none of these emotions and feelings ever go away completely. We just make room for ALL of them. We allow them to come and go, commingle, and blend to make the best production possible.

Happiness isn’t some Amazon delivery that gets drop-shipped to your doorstep. Positivity and elation and joy aren’t delivered in neatly wrapped packages.

You need to work for it.


You have a vision of how you want your life to be.

You can change the scenes and reorder the cast’s appearance, but nothing works if you don’t believe it.

When you start owning your story, accepting all the parts without judgment or condemnation, and heaping praise for everything that brought you to this place, your production will shine. The minute you believe in your worth and know in your heart your living your best life, the roar of the crowd gets louder.

The most compelling stories about your life are the ones you believe without hesitation. All the clapping and whistles become louder when you accept that your story is unique to you and requires no comparison, regret, or shame.

Thunderous applause echoes on the stage as you stand behind your truth and take a bow for everything you’ve been through. A standing ovation confirms the crowd adores you.

But when you take a closer look into the audience to see who’s there to support you, the hazy outline of people starts to disappear.

The lights go up and no one is there. The theater is empty.

That’s when you understand all the clapping and cheering wasn’t from anywhere outside of you. The deafening applause was from your own heart and soul.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to make changes or regroup. And you don’t need anyone else to remind you that you’re special or worthy. No one else needs to confirm you’re “doing it right.”

You only need to tell yourself.


If you’re looking outside of yourself for confirmation, adulation or acceptance, you’re looking in the wrong place.

No one has to understand your relationship with grief or any of your feelings or emotions. No one else gets to decide when they show up or how long they stay.

Only you can make those choices.

As the director of your life, it’s up to you to decide how long to let grief monopolize the stage. If you’re ready for happiness and joy to get back in the game, move grief to a supporting role instead of allowing it to be front and center all the time.

When you decide and believe that grief doesn’t have to consume the entire production, you can change your show and bring the bit players like happiness and joy out of hiding.

And turn your unbalanced show into the most engaging production possible.


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  1. I absolutely immersed myself in your last email moving grief from the supporting role. You are an amazing writer who has the ability to dig deep into the soul of the widow line no other person who has written about grief. Thank you. If you and I lived in the same town I know we would become best friends.

  2. Kim,
    I have loved all your articles. They are spot on. Loved the imagery and analogy you used. Very thought provoking! You make me feel hopeful for a brighter future, despite losing the love of my life.
    Lorraine Pollard

    1. Hi Lorraine, thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it so much! I’m glad you’re hopeful for a brighter future because it’s available to you when you believe it is ❤.

  3. As a recent widow (4 months) I absolutely love this website. I don’t usually comment but feel compelled to do so especially to this one. I used to work in TV drama productions so this really spoke to me. Thank you for the posting & many others I have found helpful. Am gradually coming to terms with my loss after 35 years of marriage.
    Barbara – New Zealand

    1. Hi Barbara, I’m so glad you found your way here. Sending you peace and strength as you try to make sense of this new journey 💛.

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