How Long Does Grief Last?

a grieving man sitting alone by the ocean

We each grieve in our own time

The length of time it takes for somebody to go through the grieving process is specific to each individual. Your beliefs and religious values will no doubt influence how you react to this situation, and to those around you.

After the initial pain of losing a loved one, there will be a period of time while you slowly come to terms with the fact they have passed away and you may feel numb and powerless to carry on.

Your grief is as unique as you are and the process of coming to terms with your partner’s death will need patience and a full acceptance of what has happened. When you’re sad, it’s best to go with what feels natural and not enforce any specific length of time for overcoming the emotions you’re feeling.

There is no time limit for recovery following the death of a loved one. We all experience life in different ways and if you find yourself thinking about your job, or other commitment, rather than thinking about your loss, don’t feel guilty. Life has a way of moving us forward without the need to follow a specific grief recovery process.

What are the different stages of grief?

  1. Denial: Finding it hard to accept that your partner is gone is an understandable reaction, especially if you’ve been together for a long time or the death was sudden. Denial is a way in which we cope with something we don’t want to accept. Gradually we can come to terms with the reality of it all and rationality follows.
  2. Anger: It is quite usual to feel anger following the loss of a partner and feeling they have left you behind to cope on your own is normal. This particular sentiment is one that usually subsides fairly quickly and it is important to recognise that it is quite common to feel this way following the death of a loved one.
  3. Low moments: Once the practical experience of death has been dealt with: organising a funeral, your finances, deciding what to do with your partner’s possessions, etc. you may find yourself overcome with despair. It is probably better for you and those around you to give into this. Suppressing your grief will only make it last longer and will have the potential to make you ill. Hopefully, there will be family and friends who will be ready to support you should you wish to lean on them. Low moments are an understandable reaction following your loss and will hopefully pass in good time.
  4. Grief recovery: There is no time limit to grief recovery. The time it takes to return to the status quo is unique to each of us. If you have children, especially if they are still relatively young, you will very likely come to terms with your new life state more quickly than one who is now home alone. There is nothing like the responsibility to your children to help keep you focused.
  5. If you find the process of your grief recovery debilitating, then maybe you need to call in the help of professionals. Your local medical practice should be able to recommend a reliable resource and you will feel better for taking those first practical steps towards your recovery.
  6. Coping well, coping alone: Gradually you will find yourself establishing a new way of life and the potential to find happiness again. Hopefully, your vision for the future will be one of optimism and contentment. Whether you’re a widow or widower coming to terms with your loss, there will most certainly be ‘down times’. This is to be expected and is part of the recovery process, not a sign of your inability to cope.
  7. Time alone is not always a bad thing. Positively reflecting upon the achievements of your life so far, including your grief recovery, will help you to recognise your strengths. The home you created with your partner, looking after your children and shared holidays together are all experiences that bring a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps your career successes will also come into the mix. Gradually you could find yourself looking back on your relationship as a much deserved success story.


Be proud that you have come to terms with your grief. There is nothing quite so bad as losing someone we love. However, accepting they have gone, no matter what your age, is a personal triumph. Treasured memories will keep you going, giving you confidence as you move towards the next chapter of your life.

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