Monday, October 19, 2015

How Long Does Mourning 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 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?

5 comments:

  1. Very good post. Today makes 6 weeks since my husband passed away. I just asked myself this question this morning. Thank you for this post!

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  2. I am starting into my 4th year and I still feel sad and lost much of the time. What is wrong with me?

    Does it have anything to do with the fact that he was young, healthy, he died suddenly and I found his cold, dead body on our couch?

    Someone help me!

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  3. Someone once said I thought (wisely) ....

    "you never get over it, you just get on with it" It has been 4 years and God has given me grace To accept this, the pain has subsided, but his absence is missed daily.

    My daughter had a break down Sunday crying,angry and said "I am mad at God, why did he take daddy"

    In his way and time only the Lord can heal our broken heart and spirit. For those unbearable days great grace is given for great grief.

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  4. Dear Anonymous, My heart goes out to you and I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away. My first husband, Bruce, was in peak physical condition but he died of a brain aneurism which was totally unexpected and took him instantly. I was with him just in time to see him breathe his last breath, but it was hard to get over that huge shock---one instant he's with you, the next instant he's gone. ..
    Some people say time heals all wounds, but that's not always true. Plus, the question is "how MUCH time?" How long does it last? Is there something wrong with you to still feel sad and lost much of the time even though it was four years ago?
    My first word to you is this: relax. Chances are good that there's nothing really wrong with you. But now that you've begun to realize you want to be in a different emotional state, that means you're beginning to come to terms with your loss and resolve some of the grief.
    I hear your plea for help, so I will offer 4 suggestions that can really make a difference. If you haven't already done so, start to attend a grief support group, especially one for Christian widows if you can find one in your community. It usually seems worse during the first few sessions when you go, so determine to stick with it for at least 4 weeks. Also, read a book about widowhood or grief in general and make notes on the pages when you read something that you can relate to.
    With Thanksgiving coming up, practice "30 Days of Thanksgiving" in which you write down one thing to be thankful for each day. I know it might sound rather trite, but what have you got to lose? It's just one thing.
    Also see if your church or community has any projects coming up in the next month or two that they need volunteers for, and become one of the best volunteers they ever had.
    I don't want to say that doing all these things will totally resolve your grief, but I do think you'll be pretty surprised to see where you're at one month from now if you do them. Also consider joining one of my Lifeboat groups on Facebook. At the top of this blog you will see a How to Join a Lifeboat Support Group tab and the instructions are there.
    I'll be praying for you, and I really hope to hear back from you soon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Danyell, Thank you too for your comment today. Don't be dismayed that grief takes time to heal. It's different for each person, but you can rest assured that it does heal. Life will never be the same, but it can still be very very good. <3

    ReplyDelete

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