Answer: People start exhibiting signs and symptoms of grief from immediately after the death to continuing up to seven years later. However, a person may not realize they are grieving or what are the signs of grief. Many times on Beyond Indigo message boards we have members ask “I am still crying shouldn’t I be over it since the funeral was a week ago”?
Therapists, doctors and other grieving professionals have been studying grieving for years. They keep discovering new aspects to grieving because it is such an individual unique process. However there are some things that are similar for all grieving individuals.
Each person normally goes through the following four phases. These phases do not occur in any particular order but tend to happen during different stages of the grief process.
1. Realization. People seldom realize how much their loved ones are intertwined into their lives. When a family looses a family member a space appears in their lives that used to be filled by that loved one. Part of the grief journey for an individual is restructuring his or her life mentally, emotionally and physically. As a person adapts on every level of her/his life to the absence the loved one, realization dawns that the loved one is more and more permanently gone.
2. Emotions. An individual learns to ride the emotional storms that ravage him or her as part of the grief journey. Grieving can bring many more emotions then sadness. Some of these emotions a person may have not ever felt this intensely before. It can be startling, scary, nerve racking or an amazing release. It is going to take a family member time to figure out what he or she is feeling, time to learn how to express it, and realize he or she are going to be fine.
3. Changing. A person’s life within a heartbeat is forever changed. A death is not just one change in a person’s life but the start of many.
4. Transformation. A people we normally do not like to change. So often, we as human beings, usually change only when something makes us change. A death gives us the opportunity to undergo a deep spiritual transformation touching every view we hold.
Most people go through the above four grief phases, and continue living a healthy life. However, psychologists and doctors have discovered in the last 10 years that some people suffer from what is known as “traumatic or complicated grief.” FYI, “traumatic” doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is grieving the loss of a loved one from a horrible incident (murder, serious accident, natural disaster etc). Usually people who are suffering this type of grief take up to 7 years to heal.