When you lose someone, the grief is intense. Pain, memories, and questions can easily haunt you. There is an emptiness inside that may make you feel like you’ll never laugh, recover, or be whole again. When will this pain end? More importantly, when should it end?

Society places immense pressure on people to get over loss and get through the grief.  This is due in part to past theories such as Sigmund Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia”.  The theory taught that a person needed to sever old attachments and work through their grief as quickly as possible. A more recent theory, developed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, is the breaking down of grief in stages- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Today there is not much emphasis placed on these theories. Instead, grief is viewed as a transition that people manage in their own, individual ways and timeframe. “The important thing to remember,” notes Alan D. Wolfelt, director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition, “is that coping with loss is not about closure. Grief is a transformative life experience, not a rush to a resolution.”  There is no right or wrong time length for grieving.  Pain comes and goes throughout your life after a loss.  You don’t get over the loss of someone, but you learn to live with that loss. Grieving will last as long as it needs to.

Although healing time can vary, how you deal with grief is important. If you deal with grief well, you’re able to work and love; two essential aspects of life. Most people can manage their jobs and can be close and available to loved ones. If your grief or that of a loved one is more debilitating you may need clinical help. Seek or encourage professional help if you observe any of the following warning signs – especially if it’s been a long period of time since the death.

  • Difficulty functioning in daily life
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Excessive bitterness, anger, or guilt
  • Extreme focus on the death
  • Talking about dying or suicide

Have faith in the promise that you will get back to normal. It is possible to heal emotionally and to grow stronger mentally, physically and spiritually. You also will eventually remember your loved one without feeling pain. By living well, you honor both yourself and those now passed.

by: Rachel Schnebly