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Originally published Monday, November 5, 2012 at 5:19 AM

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Woman unsure what to do after boyfriend's death

A woman wonders how to move on after her boyfriend was killed in a car accident.

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DEAR CAROLYN: The love of my life was killed last weekend in a car accident. I am lost. What do I even begin to do? Everyone's asking me what I need, and I don't even know. My head is full of questions. What am I going to do now that the future I planned is gone? Where do I even sit at the funeral?

His parents are beyond kind, but there is no official role for the girlfriend. And I'm afraid to think about him or my future. I'm afraid that if I let go I'll fall into a deep, dark well and I may never come out.

I am meeting with a grief counselor today. Any thoughts on books, or things that have worked for people? I don't know what else to do.

— Bereft

DEAR BEREFT: Oh, I am so sorry.

The only answer to "What do I do?" is this: Get by. You don't need to accomplish anything, answer anything, figure out anything right now. You just don't. Right now is for raw grief; anything else can wait until you feel ready for it.

When your friends ask what you need, don't be afraid to say, "I have no idea." When you get to the funeral, you will sit where someone steers you to sit, and if no one steers you, just choose a seat with people you love.

As for your future, your future is this evening, and this evening, your future will be tomorrow morning, and so on. Shorten it into something you are capable of managing, even if your future becomes "an hour from now."

Enlisting the help of a grief counselor says you are indeed functioning, and that's something you can count on as you get through these days.

You might find comfort in Kay Redfield Jamison's memoir, "Nothing Was the Same." It's about her challenge to grieve her husband's death while managing her bipolar disorder, which required meticulous self-care. It's moving and grounding at the same time.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living.

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