A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

How Long Does Grief Last?

So how long does grief last? This is the most frequently asked question by grievers. Depending on with whom they speak, they will be bombarded by a variety of answers that really offer them no useful information. We need to first look at some of this “misinformation” before we look at the truth!

 

The timelines frequently suggested

As we discussed in a previous article, many employers feel that three days is the adequate time to deal with the loss of an immediate family member and that other significant emotional losses don’t even qualify for consideration. Those three days may give someone time to plan and attend a service, but that has nothing to do with time necessary to process that emotional pain.

Others will tell them that it takes a year. Some years ago I was the guest speaker for a grief support group. During a break, one women was talking to me about how emotionally overwhelmed she was with the death of her son. Just as I was starting to discuss with her how to deal with her situation, another woman came up and said, “honey, there is no sense in you trying to do anything now.” She continued, “It has only been a couple of months, and it will be a year before you can think about feeling better!” The lady, with whom I was initially speaking, shoulders sagged as she now felt she had been sentenced to a year of misery!

The New England Journal of Medicine highlighted yet another time frame proposed by the American Psychiatric Association. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) suggests that grief lasting more than 2 weeks be diagnosed as complicated grief, paving the way to prescribe medication to deal with the symptoms. The problem with this is that while medication masks those symptoms, it does nothing to actually deal with moving through and beyond the real issues generating that emotional pain.

One of the first things that I ask people who are training to work with grievers is “How long does grief take when it comes to recovering from an emotional loss.” The most common answer I hear is “it takes as long as it takes, and every loss is different.” While this may sound logical, it’s yet another horrible thing to tell a griever. Since everyone grieves at 100% for each of their individual losses, this may sound like a lifetime sentence, since they see their level of pain being so intense.

The problem with each of these different answers is that they all perpetuate one of the greatest of all grief myths. Each one of these sources is telling people “that grief just takes time” or that "time heals all wounds." The passage of time has nothing to do with actually moving through the pain of loss. If anything, all that happens as time goes by is that grievers become so accustomed to living with the pain that it becomes an everlasting part of their lives. That pain will continue to control them if they fail to take meaningful action to actually deal it.

 

 

The amount of time grief lasts is directly related to the time needed to take effective action!

This is exactly what I tell anyone who suggests that time is somehow a factor in recovery. This is what I ultimately told that woman at that support group meeting. Once I said this, she once again looked at me with hope in her eyes.

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to any change in our familiar behavior pattern and experience. It’s related to the many conflicting emotions that are felt related to that change. To move beyond the power of that change, it’s necessary to fully examine that relationship and deal with the things that we might have wished had been different, better or more related to it. It’s about discovering what has been left incomplete, and those things that continue to overwhelm them with that sense of bereavement and loss. Once these things have been identified, the griever is then in the position to take directed action to move beyond the stranglehold that limits their ability to face another day.

Many grievers tend to become so overwhelmed with those moments at the end of a relationship, or the problems within it, that they can think of little else. Recovery isn’t about forgetting, but rather taking the needed steps to once again be able to enjoy any fond memories they might have. By taking positive and directed actions, they will find that when something reminds them of that relationship, the positive feelings in that moment are not then overshadowed by those previously incomplete elements that still generated grief.

Recovery can impact people in other ways as well. If, by chance, they were in a situation that involved abuse, they often find that the negative power of that abuse lasts well beyond the end of the relationship. Taking recover action can put an end to that sense of loss of control over their happiness, self-image and personal value as well.

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A proven way to take that action

The Grief Recovery Method has been in place for nearly 40 years. It’s an action plan that’s proven effective around the world in assisting grievers to move beyond the pain of emotional loss.

How long does grief last?  A Certified Grief Recovery Specialist can help you find success in moving beyond the pain of loss in as few as seven or eight sessions together. If that still seems like more time than you want to be overwhelmed by that pain, The Grief Recovery Institute offers two-day intensive personal workshops to move you through the process. For those that cannot meet with a Specialist, “The Grief Recovery Handbook” can guide you through this process and explain how to find a partner to the assist you in taking this action independently. While you may still find yourself missing the physical presence of the relationship, these programs will make a tremendous difference when it comes to the overwhelming emotional pain of loss.

The Grief Recovery Method is a step-by-step approach that focuses on your broken heart. No one will ever tell you why you shouldn’t be feeling whatever it is that you feel. Instead it’s about taking action to deal with those feelings in a meaningful way to move beyond the power of your grief. It worked for me personally and for the hundreds of people with whom I have had the honor of assisting on this journey. It can work for you as well.


Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo - iqoncept

Comments

I have so much remorse about my parenting I am stuck in guilt. My 30 year old dearly missed son gave me so much joy that I can hardly bare to think of the grief I gave him through his life. I neglected his psychological and emotional life as he was growing up and I now feel dreadfully burdened about things unresolved with him because we had no time over 6 months of intense illness and treatment. I'm don't know what to do with all this.
I have so much remorse about my parenting I am stuck in guilt. My 30 year old dearly missed son gave me so much joy that I can hardly bare to think of the grief I gave him through his life. I neglected his psychological and emotional life as he was growing up and I now feel dreadfully burdened about things unresolved with him because we had no time over 6 months of intense illness and treatment. I'm don't know what to do with all this.
Shirley - I think that all of us look back in time and think of things we might have done differently as parents. I have often said that a baby is the most complicated thing that you can ever bring home without detailed instructions stamped on the bottom. No matter how we might try to do our best, hind sight is always 20/20! Rather than guilt, I imagine that you are really thinking of those things that you wish you might have done different or better, and I am sure that you wish that you had more time with you son to make things better. I cannot imagine the level of emotional pain you are experiencing and just wish that I could at least give you a hug and let you know that there are people out there who really care. As long as you keep these feelings inside and don't take action to move beyond them, you will continue to be stuck with them. Taking Grief Recovery action will allow to move through these feelings so that you can better enjoy your fond memories and again see those moments that you were successful in parenting. Please check to see if there is a Grief Recovery Specialist in your area at www.griefrecoverymethod.com. If there is no one available near you, then please get a copy of "The Grief REcovery Handbook." It is available at most bookstores, on that website or at Amazon.com. As was said in the article, this is a step by step roadmap to working through all those emotional issues related to your son. I really can make a difference for you! It will help you deal with those feelings you expressed so that you can once again enjoy your positive memories of your times together. Since it is not possible to go back in time and change the past, this will make it far easier for your to look to the future! Please take care - Steve
My daughter of 41 for 2 years abused me.....beat me so bad....neighbors reported .....she argue with neighbor...police came. Upon return from walking dog officer saw....tried to speak to her. Arrested her. I know in my heart she died that day....her grandfather beat me when 3 father did nothing. I know in my heart as a nurse she could have killed me. I have had nothing to do with this family 35 years however never prevented her from seeing father and his parents.......married a good man....he died 2014....heart transplant .....received 17 more years.....so overwhelmed with loosing him....there is alot....how do i cope with a daughter an adult who has done alot of bad things to me....says i am crazy......i am tired. Have counseling.....loss complicated by childhood losses and trauma.....grow up orphan in USA. Have friends.....they pray....loosing my daughter to this narcissistic family....famous uncle comic artist .....state has charged her case pending dragging this.....i am sad today.
Sarafina - It sounds like you are carrying around a tremendous load emotional pain in your life. The Grief Recovery Method will help you sort through these different issues to help you decide which relationship to work on first. These same tools can be used to then deal with each of these other relationships in turn. You will find that as you work on each one, and all the negative energy that they carry, you will feel stronger, better and more at peace with yourself. These tools will help with dealing with the loss of your husband as well, so that you can better remember and share all the joy he brought to you with being overwhelmed with his death. I have used these same tools to deal both wonderful relationships lost and with past mentally abusive people in my life. I know that they made an enormous difference for me. I honestly believe that they can help you as well! Please know that there are people who care about you! Steve

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