Grief is a Process

Soon after the death of a loved one, many people start wondering, “how long is this pain going to last?” “How long will it be until I feel something close to closure?” or “When will I just start to feel like my old self again?”

The truth is that in grief there is no such thing as “closure” or “getting over it.” You have been changed by the death of your loved one and the “old you” has been forever changed, which is why there is often an overwhelming sense of disorientation.

Grief is a process by which over time, and by doing the “grief work,” you will discover that you are changed and that you will continue to have a relationship of memory with the person who has died. This process is unique to each and every person. There are many similarities to the experience, but no one can say how long it will last, or predict the pace and emotions of your process. Self-compassion and acceptance are essential during this time of uncomfortable and painful emotions, often we are so hard on ourselves and try our hardest to reduce the amount of pain we feel.

Dr. Alan Wolfelt refers to what is achievable as something he calls reconciliation. His definition seems to deeply relieve the stress of the bereaved who are unsure of what they are supposed to be searching for.

“Reconciliation is a term I find more appropriate for what occurs as you work to integrate the new reality of moving forward in life without the physical presence of the person who died.”

In his book, Understanding Grief, Wolfelt talks about grief work as necessary to achieve reconciliation. I encourage anyone who is struggling to read this book for guidance and to help enable you to have self-compassion and an understanding of your own grief process. Baue Grief Services and the Center For Hope and Healing are here to help support you with any questions as you walk this journey.

If you or someone you know have been experiencing a prolonged grief period or feel as if your grief has turned into depression, our Center for Hope & Healing offers individual and family counseling for all of life’s transitions. Click here for more information or call (636) 328-0878.

Kelly Karavousanos, LPC, CT
Director, Grief Services
Center for Hope & Healing