Monday, March 26, 2012

How Long Will Grief Last?

How long have you been widowed? Days? Weeks? Months? Years?

In the first weeks it seems like you cry non-stop and you never expected it to hurt like this! Like you're flooded. You didn't know you had so many tears. Then you get a repreive. You only cry a couple times a day. After a month or two, a couple times a week.

Sooner or later--there is no schedule, each goes at her own pace--the crying gets down to a couple times a month . . . a couple times a year . . . These crying jags are like labor pains in reverse. While labor pains start out mild and far apart, grief starts out painful, fast, and intense. The next round of "grief pains" are a few seconds shorter, a little further apart. They still hit, but most of the time each new round is a bit diminished; they are a little weaker---or perhaps you're a little stronger. Brace yourself for birthdays, holidays and anniversary pains. Like labor pains, you know they'll come. Prepare for the wave. But these, too, will become easier to bear.

If the "Grief pains" have done their job well, like birth contractions, something new has been born. When the tears diminish, don't think it's because they've dried up or you've become numb and indifferent. Tears have watered you like raindrops, and you've grown and transformed into the resilient, fruitful orchard of a woman that God had planned all along.
When we look at an apple, we see a piece of fruit with seeds. When God looks at an apple, He sees an orchard. I heard that the other day. It's true, isn't it? I think God sees an orchard when He looks at widows, too.

You might think He sees just an ordinary woman, but I think He sees the real you--a woman of courage, resiliance, and faith.

God also sees the legacy of blessing--the seeds--you'll leave for future generations by the choices you make today. There is a lot more "fruit" to be produced in your life--and "orchards" of trees which will provide the shade of God's goodness to the world--all because of you.

Grief begins to fade when we begin to see the orchard it will produce. What sort of plans do you think God has in store for you?
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 17:8 (English Standard Version)


  1. I remember my first few months. I thought I'd never stop crying every day. And you are right, you wonder where all of those tears are coming from. They are unlike any tears you've ever cried before in your life. Your face is sopping wet, you nose is running, your throat tightens to where you think you cannot breathe. You don't just cry, you sob and wail. Yes it does lessen as time goes by, but those sudden sneak grief attacks still hit you when you least expect it. I'm now 9 months into my journey and for the past few weeks, I've been having a lot of grief attacks. I think it is because Ben's and my 32nd anniversary is coming up on April 5th plus I keep remembering that this time last year, I was traveling back and forth between home and the hospital every day. I keep "seeing" him in that hospital bed with all of the wires and tubes and the tears flow. But I do know that I am healing. I will NEVER be the person I used to be though.

  2. It is Tuesday morning for me as I live on the other side of the world, but I am so grateful for the insights of this web site! I have it come up automatically as my first thing to see when I go onto the internet.
    My husband died of cancer last month and I have been numb most of the time until the last week, and the crying stage has kicked in. It is so great to know there are others out there going through the same feelings. I hope that I become an orchard further down the track, that God will use me to help others going through this crisis!

  3. Thanks for this post. It has been almost a year and a half and the tears are much less frequent. Sometimes this makes me feel like maybe I don't care any more,but I know that is not true. i still miss Jake every day,but am able to cope most of the time.


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