Monday, October 21, 2013

How Long Will Grief Last?

When will the pain go away? When will life return to normal? When will you no longer feel like you're standing alone out in the cold?

The good news: Grief will not last forever.
You will laugh again. You'll find new balance and purpose. The initail raw pain and crying spells will ebb. You'll go from crying A LOT, to crying several times a day, to several times a week. Then several times a month, to every couple months and less as life picks up and you're involved again.
Time becomes more liquid, though, and sometimes you'll experience the memories and grief as if you're still in the moment. I think that's ok. It means you're human; you're created in the image of God who is not bound by time. God transcends time and when we experience memories as vividly as if we're still there, it's a foretaste of God's glory and power.
So lean into the memories, lean into the grief. Don't be afraid, this won't hurt forever.

The bad news: Grieving takes longer than we want.
In our push-button/instant gratification culture we hate to wait! We want quick relief! Grief doesn't work like that. Ancient Israel allowed 40 days for mourning--we're allowed a week or two off work or school. And there are social expectations. People in Bible times wore sackcloth and ashes. They wailed and mourned out loud in public. Today's widows look pretty good, they're complimented on "how strong" they are; they're shushed away and patronized to numb any pain with medications and pleasure because they "deserve to be happy." People! Listen! Can we let her just be sad for a bit?
It's impossible to put a timeframe on grief. Everyone's situation is so different; widows' range from teens to elderly, deaths occur instantly or with long anticipation, your loss may be contained or it may avalanche with a number of other losses. Some widows only need six weeks, most need at least six months, some will need six years. But we all only want about six minutes!
Widowhood is the hardest challenge and test many women will ever face. Ask for professional help if you think it's taking too long, if you feel "stuck," if you're falling into depression. It takes time, but making the effort to take the time to work through it will reap a rewarding and richly satisfying future.

More good news: Widows who take an active role in their grief can resolve it earlier than those who don't.
Facing into the storm of your suffering, intentionally working through it, and gleaning all the wisdom you can will help bring about your desired acceptance and closure.
In my opinion, when you're first widowed, you should allow yourself to experience the first year and all "the firsts" it will bring your way. Don't complicate it by adding a boyfriend, moving, or changing jobs unnecessarily. Use the time to become a student of yourself and your own grief. Attend grief seminars and support groups. Read!
Talk! Find a widow who can be your walking partner, prayer partner or mentor. Carefully check out widows groups on the internet, start a blog about your experience. Tell your story. (Stay safe, though. Be very careful and protect your privacy. Evil people who prey on widows really do exist!)
And then allow yourself to ease into the second year with the realization that it will be very different from the first year. Note your discoveries, establish a foundation of wisdom and gratitude, develop an understanding of your new and special relationship with God.
Then, if you feel like you're done grieving, you're done! Of course there will be many days beforehand that you'll feel like you're done--and a few afterwards that knock the wind out of you and make you feel like a failure, but that's life--welcome back to the human race!

Where are you in your grief journey? Are you just starting out, do you see some twists and turns ahead, or are you sliding into home? Journal your thoughts and experiences and you'll see evidence of your progress a few months from now.

Thanks for visiting with me today. I'd love to hear your comments, but I'm sorry I will not be able to verify them until later this week.


  1. This is a great topic for widows! For me personally, I would say it took a good 2 years. Of course the first 6 months I was trying to do grief my way before I surrendered to God for His help!!! Also, a counselor had told me that for children, it takes on the average about 4 and a half years for them to get through grief after losing a parent. Perhaps something for widows/widowers with children to be aware of.

  2. Thank you Ferree
    Everything you said is so true!


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