A friend of mine lost her husband 5 months ago. She is having a really difficult time with the grief she is still experiencing.
There are those who have told her she is taking too long grieving… that she is wallowing in it. It occurred to me that this doesn’t just happen when someone we love dies, but also at other times, but to address the grieving process, lets ask ourselves; ‘who’s to say’ what the correct or appropriate amount of time is, to allow ourselves or others time to grieve?
As far as I’m concerned there is no specific allotted time. I would think that there are so many things to consider, and in my friend’s particular case, she lost her husband of 43 years. She lost her confidant, her lover, her support, her feeling of well-being. She lost the laughter they shared, the conversations about everything and anything, the music and shows they enjoyed, the memories of past times they would talk about, the sharing of joy when children and grandchildren would visit. What about the date nights and what about the times when one or both of them felt discouraged or broken, and the other one would lift them up? What about someone to help them with the household and property chores?
When you lose your spouse or partner in life, you don’t just lose a ‘body’, you lose a lifetime of sharing the joys and sorrows of life. You lose the person who actually has become part of you and you of them. You lose therefore part of yourself!
Of course losing others whom you love, whether it be brother, sister, friend, parent etc. is very difficult and grieving must take its’ course.
The same concept is found in perhaps a person who is going through depression or another form of mental illness and is relevant I believe also. How many times does the person feel as though others are thinking they should ‘hurry up and get well’? They feel as though they must not take too long, as it is bothersome to their family or friends.
So how long is too long? There is no definitive answer I believe. My thoughts are, that those who are concerned about the grieving process of a loved one, should certainly try to help, pray for, and encourage and support in whatever way they can, and just ‘be there’ for them, and that in doing so it will help to alleviate some of the feelings of loss that the person is feeling. Nothing I don’t think will take away all the pain, but it can help.
Having said all of this, just don’t pressure someone into fitting into your schedule, of when you think it’s time to stop.
Just support and love them through whatever time it takes.