Ask the Staff: Length of the Grieving Process?
Q: How long does the grieving process last?
A: During the 15 years that I have been working in hospice, I have been asked this question many times. My first answer is always that grief lasts a lifetime, because we never truly "get over" our losses. We simply learn to accept them and go on with life, realizing that life is a series of losses. As soon as we are born, we start losing, and as we move through our years, we often experience loss.
Last week, I was teaching the Middle School Ministry youth group at the church I attend. Right in the middle of class, one of the kids announced that she had just lost her tooth. Of course, when we think about losing a tooth, we think of that as not only being a loss, but a celebration as well. We recognize it as a time of celebration in that she will put the tooth under her pillow and the "Tooth Fairy" will come to visit. It is a celebration to show that she is moving into maturity. As I thought about the loss and celebration for her, I also pondered the series of losses that impact our lives. Some are more severe than others. Nonetheless, all losses carry value to us.
Over the past 10 years, research has shown that most people don't get back to sub-normal living until 13 months after the loss of someone. However, recent statistics reflect that most people now do not get back to sub-normal living until 18 months after losing a significant person in – and to – their lives. As we think about that statistic, we reflect on those losses of individuals whom we loved and cherished and the impact that they had on our lives.
Here's a question to consider: could we not say that they have also matured – or, if you want to use the word, graduated – and are therefore celebrating? And if that is the case, should we not celebrate the precious memories that we have of them? Should we not harness those memories and hold them in the deep recesses of our hearts? For although we grieve, we grieve only temporarily, knowing that it is not "goodbye," just "so long for now." As I have said so many times before, even death itself cannot take the memories of our loved ones from our hearts. Someone wise once said, "Memories are gifts from God. They are what get us through the hard times."
—Saundra Yates, Bereavement Coordinator/Chaplain (Mount Airy Office)
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers free grief support to the community at large. For more information, contact us today at 336-789-2922 (toll-free 1-888-789-2922).
Tags: Grief Support