When will grief be over?
Grief is an adaptive response not bound by time. It never really ends; you don’t “get over” grief. It is something you learn to live with over time, as you gradually adjust to the physical absence of the one who has died. Grief softens and erupts less frequently as time goes on, but it can revisit you at any time, and in varying intensity, whenever you are reminded of your loss. Be aware of triggers that may bring back memories – you can’t ever stop these but you can learn how to cope with them.
Is the first year of grief the hardest, and the time when support is most needed?
Not necessarily - for some, the second year is even harder than the first. The reality is that you will need ongoing compassion and support. Other people may forget about your loss, but talk to your friends and family and explain that you’re not done grieving and need support.
Does the intensity and length of my grief reflect how much I loved them?
Not at all. There is no grieving contest and no winner. You must feel what you feel and begin to live life when you are ready, on your own timetable. Your grief has no bearing on another’s, or on the depth of your feelings for the person who has died. No one has the right to tell you that you don’t care because you’re not outwardly sad – it’s up to you how you cope and how you recover from the loss.
Does everyone grieve in the same way?
No - there is tremendous variation in style of grieving, cultural variations in grieving, and variations in length and intensity of grieving. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You may wish to do it quietly, without anyone knowing. You may want to be loud about your loss – there’s no hard and fast rule. Only you know what you’re feeling.
Do I have to tell everyone that someone has died?
No – but it can be hard to hide if you’re upset. It might be a good idea to tell your employer so they can be aware that you’re going through a tough time, but essentially it’s up to you who you tell. You may appreciate the support, but lots of people asking if you’re okay can be overwhelming.
Is the goal of grief to let go of the one who died and move on with my life?
No - the bonds of love are never severed by death. If cherished memories and legacies are intentionally tended and nourished, it is normal and healthy that a close relationship with the deceased will continue and endure throughout your lifetime. It’s not about “getting over” the loss of the person you love – it’s about remembering them fondly.