Thursday, May 16, 2013

Grieving Time Frames - What is Normal?

I am sharing this post from Hope for Widows Foundation's Facebook Page - This post was written by Ellen Gerst, one of the Advisory Board Members of the Foundation. Their website is This story might help you understand that grief doesn't go away overnight and will be a long process for your widowed friend to work through. Be supportive and patient as she works through the process. 
If you are looking for a good book for your widowed friend, you may want to purchase on Amazon -Words of Comfort To Pave Your Journey of Loss - which is also written by Ellen. It is written for a grieving widow, by a widow, who has walked in her shoes and been successful at working through the grief process. It is an excellent read. 
Sincerely, Gwen
Right after my late husband passed away, a counselor told me that (because it was a sudden death) it would take me approximately five to seven years to feel truly healed from the wound inflicted upon my heart and soul. To tell you the truth, I thought she was out of her mind when she said that. I thought to myself, “That’s a really LONG time and I can’t imagine feeling the way I do for that length of time.”

Turns out she was right, though. When I hit the seven-year mark, it really did make a difference. It isn’t that I grieved deeply the entire seven years OR that I even grieved in the same way and for the same things each year. It was simply, somehow, at that juncture, it just felt different.

This turn of events made me consider the theory that states there is a natural release of energy every seven years. I think this encourages you to move forward and make changes. Moreover, learning to listen to your inner self, rather than to friends and family, or to your outer self (which is what you project to the world), helps you to flow with these cycles and find change less fearful.

Actually, this cycle of seven years also applies to your physical being. Steven Hall said, “Every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years. That means there's not even the smallest part of you now that was part of you seven years ago.”

So, for those of you just starting out on your grief journey, I know that this span of 7 years looks interminable (and for those who experienced an expected death of their partner, 2-3 years is a more likely time frame for healing). The “trick” to get through every year to utilize the time for your best benefit. For me, those seven years were filled with self-discovery that has served me well since then. In fact, in regard to getting in touch with my true self, they were probably the most important seven years of my life.

Having shared all this, please know that this is simply my story and your grief and the time you will need to heal is unique to you.

Just as the Kubler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief is a framework to validate your roller coaster of emotions, so the time frames mentioned above are a framework, too. You will work through your grief in your own way and in the amount of time you need. The operative word in that sentence is WORK, though. If you want to reach that “light at the end of the tunnel” YOU must participate in thoughts and activities that will continually move you one step closer to it.

©Ellen Gerst,