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Hi, I’m Greg Handel, I’m a psychologist at both Thriveworks Franklin and Thriveworks Amherst in Massachusetts. And the question that I have is, “How long does it take to grieve the loss of a loved one?” And this is a question I specifically want to address because I believe it’s often a misconception that a lot of people have.
People seem to talk about grief as if it has a very discrete period with a beginning and an end. There are studies that have been done to talk about what the average grieving process may be, say for loss of a child or loss of a spouse or loss of a parent. These are averages. They’re reporting on trends. There’s actually in reality a range of the way people grieve and the process may not be the same for everyone. But there are some key elements of the grieving process.
And I think it’s important to know that it’s more important than worrying about how long will it last. It’s more important to realize we have to go through this process and what the process entails. First it entails that we are able to articulate why we are grieving, be able to identify what it was about the loss of that loved one that is causing pain inside of us.
The second thing we need to do is be able to articulate the nature of that pain, how we feel in the grieving process and how that sense of loss is affecting us. And then the third thing we need to do is to tell someone else. Don’t hold it in. Share it with another. That personal connection is a powerful thing. That interaction with another individual and the support that we feel when we share our feelings with someone else is very important to that healing process.
But it’s also important to know that once you ask those questions or once you express how you feel, you may need to do it again. You may need to repeat it. It doesn’t just go away. In fact, to a certain extent, the pain never really totally goes away. We need to understand that grief is part of love. If we lose someone that we love, if we don’t grieve, that means there would never was any love. And then when they leave us, there’s always that ache.
Any parent whose lost a child will tell you that pain never fully goes away. And anyone who’s lost a loved one, the deeper that love was that sense of loss never wholly goes away. But what does happen is the more that we share, the more that we express how we feel, the more we work through it, the easier it is to get through each day.
Yeah. Every now and then we may hear a song on the radio that reminds us of that loved one, or there may be a time a year that particularly will ignite a trigger the sense of pain and the sense of loss in a sharper way previously. But, but overall, these times become further and farther between as we learn to express how we feel as we learn to go through this process and our ability to just cope and move on with our lives. And get stronger every day as we go through this process.
So the important thing is don’t go it alone and don’t give yourself a time limit. Just share how you feel and continue to share how you feel and you’ll see your ability to move on. And to cope with the day to day experience of getting on with life will increase. Thanks for listening.