More Than 7 Stages: How Long It Really Takes to Process Grief

Monday, January 20, 2020

While grief is a healthy, normal way to process loss, many people feel they’re “grieving wrong” if they don’t follow the 7 stages of grief.

Is there something wrong with you if your grief doesn’t end when popular belief says it should?

Absolutely not. In fact, no one’s grief follows the same timeline. The only timeline you should follow is your own.

Let’s take a look at how long it really takes to process loss.

Grief Doesn’t Have a Timeline

Although it seems neat and tidy to follow 7 stages of grief, human emotion doesn’t usually have a set guideline. Grief doesn’t automatically stop after six months or even a year. In fact, grief can linger a lifetime.

It all depends on the level and strength of the bond that gets broken. For example, a parent who loses a child will say they never get over the loss.

Don’t think you’re abnormal if your grief lasts longer or shorter than those around you say it should. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and take care of yourself in the process.

Everyone Grieves Differently

The stages of grief would have you believe you should go through feelings of denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. The trouble with that is, not everyone will feel each stage.

Some people may skip all but one stage. Others will go through every stage more than once. It’s important to realize your grief won’t follow the same outline as someone else’s.

The right way to process loss is in your own way. As long as you find healthy ways to cope, don’t beat yourself up if the 7 stages of grief don’t fit your situation.

The Shock of Grief Will Subside

The good news is, while grief may never fully go away, the shock will subside. The deep pain and darkness you might feel in the beginning has a way of softening over time.

How soon you’ll feel better is all influenced by what your support system is like and how you handle emotion. Your culture may also play a part in how you process the loss.

For most people, the all-consuming feeling of loss will subside with weeks to months. You’ll find yourself adjusting to the loss and falling back into your daily life.

Learn to Take Care of Yourself

While you go through your own grief, it’s important to do things to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.

Allow yourself to cry, be angry, or feel however you feel. Bottling it up won’t make the feelings go away and may come back later on.

Try your best to get enough sleep, eat regular meals, and get some exercise. Maintaining a routine will also help you feel more like yourself. Take breaks whenever you need one.

If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to family, friends, a counselor, or clergy. If you don’t feel yourself getting better, talk to your family doctor.

Take Your Time to Process Loss

When it comes to grief, there’s no race to the finish line. The healthiest way is to process loss in your own time and on your own terms.

Need help planning a funeral for your loved one? Contact us today for more information. 

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