Stephanie Baffone

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a gentleman looking to start therapy. In the last twelve months he buried his wife and father.

“I’m really surprised. I thought by now I’d be feeling much better. Some days I feel like I’m actually getting worse.”

Don’t fall for this!

In my line of work as a grief and loss therapist, I hear this expectation on a pretty regular basis. It is a myth that after the first year, those grieving the loss of a loved one will feel like they’ve turned a magical corner. If I could find the culprit who started this vicious rumor, I’d give it a good smack on what we Italians like to call the culo.

It’s Dynamic

Grieving is not a linear process. It is dynamic-it changes over a lifetime. People often say, “You’ll have good days and bad days.” I like to break it down even further. How you feel will change from moment to moment.

You are normal…it’s all normal

Most of the time, what people who are grieving need is some education about the process. This is what my client needed. He needed to know he wasn’t “losing his mind” because he cried more now than he did a year ago. He needed to know that his recent bout with sleeplessness could be attributed to this anniversary and a continued need to mourn. Once he discovered what he was feeling, thinking, and doing was all normal his anxiety reduced and he began to sleep more easily.

Tuesdays tip: Grief is dynamic.

While it would be wonderful to think after a year life returns to “normal” that’s simply a myth. The second year is often harder than the first because the reality begins to set in. The good news is, however, that over time, we do begin to find a new normal and the pain and sorrow do subside but when that actually begins to happen is very individual.

Know someone who might benefit from this Tuesday’s tip? Please pass it on!

What have been your experiences? Following the death of a loved one, when did you notice you began to have more peaceful moments than sorrowful ones?

See you Friday for something much lighter. :-)

Suggested reading: How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies by Therese Rando, Ph.D.

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Comments

  1. Susan Tiner says:

    This has been my experience observing people mourning loss. It changes all of the time. The new normal really takes time.

    • SBaffone says:

      Hi Susan,
      It sure does. The new normal takes a lot of time and it’s so painful but it does come around. Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts!

  2. mandy says:

    It has been almost five years since two of my daughters (through adoption) lost their mother. They were three and six at the time she died. She died in June. Every June they misbehave more and have more emotional outbursts. Anniversaries are felt so deeply that kids who don’t read a caledar feel them. Grief does not “get better” after a year.

    • SBaffone says:

      Hi Mandy,
      Thank you for stopping by to share your experience. I worked for a number of years with grieving children when I worked in hospice care. We saw this kind of dynamic often. God bless you for taking the girls in and understanding what this is like for them every June.
      Bless their hearts and yours too.
      Stephanie

  3. Melissa says:

    Hello,
    I just stumbled across this site, having just “entered” the second year of grieving for my Father. Hearing that it’s normal helps, and counseling has definitely done that for me. I think the biggest difference as time goes on, is in how random the sad spells are. They come out of nowhere!

    • SBaffone says:

      Hi Melissa,
      I’m so glad you found my post helpful. Yes, the sadness seems random and it’s tough when you can’t quite anticipate when they will come. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Losing parents is so hard.
      Hang in there and hope you come back again soon. :-)

  4. Meghan says:

    Hello Stephanie,

    I am also entering my second year of life after the death of a loved one. I am so glad that people like yourself have websites like this dedicated to helping people understand their own grief. I felt like a crazy person last year after the death of my best friend. My first year was the definition of shock. I kept on waiting for the real tears to fall, the real emptiness in my chest to hit, the true despair that appeared to be growing inside of the rest of my friends over Scott’s death. Guess what, it didn’t happen, not until just before his one year mark. I was filled with a mix of guilt and selfishness (I shouldn’t be crying, his family are the ones in real pain or its not like I lost my mom, dad, or brothers, suck it up and deal with it). I almost felt like I did not have the right to feel a deep sadness and as a result I dismissed those feelings all together. Now a year and a half later I’ve discovered those feeling were not dismissed at all, just buried out of fear of confronting his death, out of confronting the emptiness. You are absolutely right in saying the second year can be more difficult as the reality sets in. I feel as if I’ve done this process a little backwards compared to the rest of my friends. Like I should be doing better, they appear to be. Any how, I have faith that one way or another the grief will process and progress. Hopefully the new year will bring my “new” normal.

  5. Putting any kind of time frame on grief is a fools errand. I have known people who really were turning a corner after the first year and I’ve known people for whom 5 years wasn’t enough.

  6. Bonnie says:

    I stumbled upon this and am so glad to have read it. Definitely makes me feel “normal” after the death of mom 2 years ago it’s as if I am really experiencing it for the first time. The sense of her being gone is so much stronger than before. I found the hardest part so far is when I went to go buy Mothers Day cards and realized I would never do that for her again, almost lost it in Walmart. I cry a lot and wondered why I wasn’t like this last year. Glad to know I’m not alone. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. Carolyn says:

    It is close to one year that I lost my husband of 50 years. It was good to see that one year is not the magical time when the pain stops. I am feeling worse as the time goes on and seeing that this is normal helps. I am doing everything that is suggested, seeing friends, keeping busy, resting, healing, paying attention to my own needs, and praying constantly. Taking a vacation from grief, but it still returns when I am alone again. I am asking myself what will make me happy again, I don’t have the answer yet but hope that God will help me find my joy again some day and that my life will matter again. Thanks for your site and letting me vent.

    • SBaffone says:

      Carolyn,
      I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I simply can’t imagine how painful that is. I’m glad to hear your are being kind to yourself, taking the time to tend to your grief while engaging in other diversions, is important and can be healing. Over time, things will shift. I love that you are being patient and trusting the process to unfold organically. I wish you all the best and am glad my post was helpful. Grief never goes away, we just hope to learn to find a way to live with it.

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