Ask Nurse Colleen: Grief

How long does it take to get over losing someone you love?

If you are reading this column then you are old enough to have lost a loved one, remember the grief, and feel the emotional pain and suffering.  The grieving process is very individualized based on what needs the lost person met within you. If you lost someone who provided most of your needs such as food; shelter; and companionship such as a spouse or parent this could be life threatening.  Evidence has shown long time spouses often die within two years of each other, but evidence has also shown that loss opens a space for change and growth.

When great loss occurs through death or separation, emotional demands can take up 85 percent of your energy, leaving only 15 percent for mental, physical and spiritual needs. It takes as long as five years to return to a more even distribution of one’s energy. Here is a simple analogy Рif a wave knocks you over in the water, it will take struggle to regain your balance. Regaining your balance in the water is much easier if you know how to swim. So, if you do not find you are regaining your balance fast enough, seek help.
When great loss occurs such as natural disasters or mass death in a community, the recovery time is much greater, 20 years. Grief is compounded, exponentially shaking the whole foundation of a community’s culture and character. This was witnessed during terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the tsunami wave in Indonesia.

Unfortunately losing someone we love is a part of life and it is healthy to express your sorrow through tears. Our eyes are the entrance to our spiritual soul. Once the emotional pain starts to subside, which usually occurs at the two year mark, you may see change and grow; possibly taking risks that you would never had taken previously. You may even use the skills and tools taught t by the lost ones.

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