Grief Has No Expiration Date, But How Much Time Do We Need?

Grief Has No Expiration Date

Grief has no expiration date. It is a heart wrenching personal experience that requires time and patience to heal and recover.

Every individual is different. You may take 6 months or even years to heal. 

However, there are typically five stages of grief that everyone goes through:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Negotiation
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Denial is the First Stage of Grief

Denial in grief is the first step of the healing process. 

I remember that afternoon when I received a phone call from the hospital. My husband was in the hospital getting his annual checks as he would normally do. 

According to the doctor, Richard died of pulmonary embolism – it was quick and sudden. The news of his passing was an extremely shocking moment for me.

At the beginning, denial looked alot like disbelief. It felt as though it might just be a passing nightmare. The reality only started sinking in after friends and family constantly asked how I was doing and if I am feeling okay?

I felt suffocated. Felt like shouting and telling everyone it’s not okay. I was struggling to cope and have been crying everyday. At that point, I wasn’t looking forward for anything. Go to work, eat if I felt like it, sleep and the cycle repeats.

What I learnt is that the first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss.

During this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We float between a state of shock and denial. We feel numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. 

Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.

Anger is the Second Stage of Grief

The next phase of grief is Anger.

Being angry at your loved one that he ​didn’t take better care of himself. Being angry at the doctor for not being able to save someone so dear to you. Being angry at your very own self that you ​didn’t see this coming and when you did, nothing could stop it. 

You somehow convinced yourself that it was not supposed to happen, or at least not now.

The anger during this phase usually isn’t logical or valid.

It is important to remember that anger surfaces only when you feel safe enough to know you will probably survive whatever comes.

Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. 

The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to disappear and the more you will heal.

Negotiation is the Third Stage of Grief

Before the loss of a significant other, we tend to be willing to do anything if our loved one could be spared. More often than not, we start our negotiations with God:

“Dear God, I promise I’ll never to be angry at my husband again if you let him live.” 

After a loss, negotiation take the form of a temporary truce. 

“Dear God, if I devote the rest of my life to helping others, will I be able to wake up and realize that this has all been a bad dream?”

The truth is that we will do anything to avoid the pain of our loss. 

During this phase of grief, we try to negotiate our way out of the hurt.

Depression is the Fourth Stage of Grief

After the realization that your significant other is gone, empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level.

During this depressive stage, it feels as though it will last forever. 

One very impor​tant message here, is to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the involuntary reaction to a great loss. 

When the morning comes, you don’t seem to care at all. A voice in your head says it is time to get up, but you have no desire to do so. 

Life feels pointless. And to get out of bed, it may as well be climbing up a steep mountain. The heaviness in your heart starts to take toll.

No matter what our surroundings may hold, we feel loneliness and emptiness. This is what hitting the bottom feels like.

This phase of grief is often the longest, but remember – grief has no expiration date, so take all the time in the world if you need it!

Acceptance is the Last Stage of Grief

During the acceptance phase, this is when our final healing and adjustment takes shape.

While it sometimes feels like an unattainable state, this phase of healing looks like remembering and recollecting our memory.

The blame that we had on ourselves, the doctor and even God starts to dissipate. We become more aware of our loss.

We begin to realize that sadly, it was our loved one’s time to die. Of course, it was too soon for us and we aren’t ready for it, but its probably too soon for him or her as well.

Perhaps he was old and full of pain – riddled by diseases. Perhaps his body was worn down and that he was ready for his journey to be over.

But our journey continues.

It is not yet time for us to die and in fact, its time for us to heal.

Grief has no expiration date so take all the time you need…

While time doesn’t heal you but it makes you stronger to deal with this roller coaster that grief sent you on. Pray for your strength for each day to come. 

Eventually, you’ll learn to accept your loss, like how everyone did. You can and you will…

Read more: How To Heal A Grieving Heart? (6 Easy Steps)