Grief Recovery: How Long Does the Process Take?

Have you recently lost a loved one?

Everyone experiences loss and everyone grieves in their own way. Grief recovery isn’t always a simple process, however. It can take months or even years, and some never fully recover.

The key is to understand that grief is hard, and going through it at your own pace is normal. You want to respect and allow your own natural form of grief within reason. You never want to fall into dangerous or destructive behaviors such as substance abuse.

Knowing when to be alone and when to reach out for help is also critical. There is never any shame in relying on your loved ones or talking to a therapist. It’s also possible to do things for yourself to help in the recovery process.

So, how do you go through the process of grief? For a full guide on grief recovery, keep reading.

Understanding Grief

The first thing you have to understand about the process of grief is that everything is normal. It sounds cliché, but loss is a part of life. Things happen that are out of our control, and sometimes the effects are devastating.

No one can tell you the right or wrong way to grieve. Some people cry, while others put on a brave face and try to laugh their way through it. It’s easy for people to tell you not to think about it too much, but it’s not their place to do that.

People Grieve Differently

Everyone grieves in different ways, and all expressions of grief are valid for the most part. Humor, sarcasm, depression, anger, bewilderment, and numbness are possible. The full range of human emotion is extensive, and no two people will grieve exactly the same.

This is an important fact to understand. It might seem odd to those around you, but they don’t know what you’re going through. It’s a good idea to try and let them in to help, but at the end of the day, no one can force you.

It isn’t uncommon for grief to take the form of isolation and aloofness. Putting up barriers and walling yourself off from those around you isn’t healthy in the long run. That said, many find it a viable short-term strategy.

Sometimes you need a bit of peace and quiet to process what’s happened. This is what people do when they say they need to be alone with their thoughts or get some air. Other times, you need to be around people to stave those thoughts away.

With a few notable exceptions, the ways you handle and understand grief are all valid.

The Dangers of Improper Grief Management

The most obvious example of an unhealthy expression of grief is substance abuse. It isn’t the place of others to judge you for taking a loss especially hard, but your loved ones still care about you. No one wants you to drink yourself to death or abuse other drugs to numb the pain.

You could apply similar logic to not eating or showering, as well as aggressively pushing others away. Sometimes, what we need is time to find ourselves and recover. What we don’t need, however, is a long-term pattern of destructive behavior.

An especially terrible form of this involves self-harm. Cutting has been a more common reaction to grief than many would expect. Self-destructive behavior, in general, won’t help you grieve.

If you isolate yourself with your grief for too long and don’t make any progress, it can start to eat you alive. The more typical form of sadness can turn into clinical depression. Taking care of your mental health is a huge part of the recovery process.

Getting help when you need it is crucial.

Avoiding the Spiral

Grief can be crippling for many people. It can feel impossible to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone shower, make food, and go to work. The temptation to reach for drugs or alcohol can be great but is unlikely to provide a long-term solution.

Falling into a routine of depression can have a seductive quality to it as well. You wake up and stare at the ceiling or doom scroll on your phone well into the afternoon. There’s no urgency, desire, or reason to get up and start your day or be productive.

You create a little cocoon for yourself where you don’t have to deal anymore. The problem is, your thoughts will continue to torment you. It can feel impossible to get yourself out of such a spiral without help.

Therapy can actually help you understand grief and the grieving process a lot better. Pros like those at can help you get to grips with things and set up strategies to make it a little easier.

Grief Recovery is Not Linear

Nothing about the grief process is linear. This is an important factor to come to terms with. Some might start to turn around after a month, while others might struggle for years.

Therapists and grief councilors sometimes give out estimates, but each situation is unique. An ideal outcome would be to see the early signs of recovery within the first two months. That said, we are talking about baby steps here.

You might wake up one morning and find you have more energy. You’ll start to crack a smile here or there as you regain your ability to find the beauty in the world. A bittersweet trigger for this is appreciating and celebrating what you had rather than grieving over what you lost.

When someone close to you dies, you often hear people talk about “a celebration of life” instead of mourning. They fail to mention that this celebration is its own form of grief recovery. It often helps lead to closure and lets you appreciate the beauty of life.

The Process Takes Time

It’s important to note that the grieving process could take many months or even half a decade. On the other hand, it isn’t that uncommon for some people to carry on some form of grieving for almost their entire lives. This latter case is extreme and usually reserved for those who didn’t want to or couldn’t find proper help.

The key thing is to realize that taking your time is normal. No one can rush you or tell you to “move on” before you’re ready. Many people never truly move on from a tragic loss.

We come to terms with it, and the memory lives on with us to give us strength. If the grieving process seems prolonged and you aren’t making any progress, there are things you can do. Therapy is a great option mentioned earlier, but there are others.

What You Can Do During the Recovery Process

Recovering from grief is a lot harder when you try to do it alone. It’s okay to want alone time to process, but there will come the point where it isn’t enough. Grief recovery can feel even harder if you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

Talking to your loved ones or even venting into the void can help. Some people start diaries or journals to express their thoughts and feelings. Expressing yourself through art or music is also a great avenue, while others find solace in a hobby.

The key is to allow yourself to feel your loss and find ways to express how you feel outside of your own head. Creating a simple routine you can commit to is a great start.

This should include the usual stuff like showering. Give yourself a break from work or social activities and focus on self-care. Do things you usually enjoy doing.

Try not to make any huge life-changing decisions while you’re grieving. It can be tempting to pack up and move to try and get away from the loss. Hold off on that kind of thinking for a bit.

Try to let yourself feel and understand your loss first. Go through everything outlined above and reach out to those you love. Consider therapy and give it time.

The pain won’t go away overnight, but eventually, it will ease – even if it doesn’t feel like it. Take a year to try and recover before doing anything drastic like quitting your job or moving cities.

Grief Recovery Is a Journey

When it comes to grief recovery, there’s a lot to consider. The most important thing is to understand that no one grieves the same or recovers the same way. Some people are more willing to accept early help, but almost everyone benefits from it.

There are things you can do and things you should try to avoid. Recovering from grief can take a long time, so patience might be the most important aspect. For more advice and articles like this, take a deeper look at our site.

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