How long should I grieve?

What’s normal? Is it a prescribed amount for loss of a child the same as the amount of time you’d need for the loss of a spouse? Is it lame to grieve an ex-spouse or a boyfriend to which you had not known long?

If you didn’t grieve as a teen when your sibling died and two years later in college you find yourself drowning in that pain of loss, does it mean you are weak? Are you awful if you don’t shed a waterfall of tears over the loss of your 90-year-old dad who had Alzheimer’s? Are you a pansy because you struggle to get past the death of your 92-year-old aunt to whom you were very close?

I remember thinking how I didn’t want to do it. Grieve. Like there was an escape hatch somewhere–anywhere. I wondered how long it would hurt? When would it stop? Would it one day be less intense? What was the road map for all this? Were there stages? Would I be back to living a “normal” life one day? What would that look like? How would I manage?

The truth is there is no statute of limitations on grief. And no way is wrong because it’s about love. And when we love and care about someone and they die, we grieve.

There might be people who have an opinion about how long you visit the grave of your deceased. Family members might even think there is something wrong with you because you still talk about your child ten years after he died.

They misunderstand the depth of your loss and it makes them uncomfortable. Think about how much you understand now this has happened to you? How much more empathetic you are. So much more aware.

For me, the first two years were horrific. Year three is when a lot of healing happened. But it will always hurt, sometimes more than others. Others might struggle less or more.

I can tell you that there are over 1,800 blog posts on this site, 98% of which were written by me. Over 8,000 comments, half of which are mine because I replied to your comments. Plus thousands of comments on other articles and videos.

Then there’s the 280-page memoir that I wrote and rewrote 11 times and the new book that’s 288 pages that has been written and re-written 5 times now. While I have a whole list of strategies I use, writing has been the primary means of working through grief for me. Tens of thousands of pages. And I’m not done. It took that investment of self-care for me to cope.

In my case, how long I grieve is the rest of my life, and that relationship with my grief and my beloved dead will evolve over time. And while that sounds like a life sentence, it’s not. Because it’s the link to the one I love and it doesn’t take me hostage like it once did. I don’t want to be over it and I have learned to walk beside it and still live my life.

How long it takes you is how long you should grieve. And if I had any advice it would be not to do it alone.

coping strategies for grief and loss

Free eBook Coping Strategies for Grief & Loss

Short, easy-to-read strategies for managing the pain of grief by Anne Moss Rogers, Karla Helbert LPC, and contributing author Charlotte Moyler. Download Now.

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AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

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