How Long Does Grief Last?

Mourners and the comforters around them often ask how long grief lasts.  Some grief experts and counselors say six months to a year normally.  If the grief is complicated, they might say maybe it could last two to four years.  But these timetables for grief are misleading.   The grief experts are describing the intense, overwhelming portion of grief right after the loss.  I say that this intense part of grief takes as long as it takes.  Your grief is on its own timetable no matter what the experts say. Mourners, please know that if you have lost a significant person in your life that you will miss them always and grieve at some level.  Also know though that time spent in remembering your loved one and mourning is time well spent as long as it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else.  Your loved one is an important person whose life and legacy need to be remembered and honored on a regular basis.

Time spent in healthy mourning is time spent honoring your loved one by living a good life.  A hospice chaplain friend of mine reminded family members attending a funeral service that they were more than just a list of people in the obituary under the heading of “survived by.”  He challenged each family member to see themselves as “living memorials” to the life and memory of their loved one.

Don’t give into the pressure of society and others to hurry up and get over your loss.  Fight for your right to mourn a valuable person who is no longer in your life.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4  NLV)

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunica Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on