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How Long Does the Grieving Last?

September 26th, 2010

One of my clients asked me at her last session: “How long am I supposed to grieve? This is so painful.” She lost her husband of twenty-five years about thirteen months ago. They were extremely close, and she “misses him terribly”.

Her life is not empty. She goes to work at her highly responsible position every day. She has taken several vacation trips with friends. She enjoys cooking and has frequent guests — family and friends – for dinner on the weekends. She has several grandchildren who visit, and has recently recognized that she is the “matriarch” of her family, especially since her husband passed away.

Yet, she still feels very lonely. She has made it through the first year of grief, and admits that occasionally she feels “lighter.” Fortunately, she does not have the pressure many bereaved feel from others who want them to “get over it already!”

I explained to her that many factors influence how people grieve and for how long. I’ll discuss these in detail in future blogs. I believe the first factor is the nature of the relationship they had with their loved one. It always amazes me that people don’t seem to recognize that after living with a spouse for twenty-five years, forty, fifty or sixty years, their survivor is supposed to get back to “normal” and move on after a year, or two, or five years!

What experiences have you had with these kinds of expectations from others – or even yourself?