Early Grief vs. Later Grief

Jeff Olson —  November 28, 2013 — 1 Comment

The loss of anyone we love is one of the most heart wrenching experiences we can go through. Most grievers go on to discover that there are differences between the early grief they encounter in the first year or more and the grief that will accompany them throughout the rest of their days.

The pain of early grief is sharp and intense. It can literally feel like you’ve been run over by a bus. Emotions erupt often and without warning. And some of life’s biggest questions won’t stop screaming for answers.

Early grief is reflected in the ancient words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel is weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15).

Early grief feels like a punch in the mouth. Later grief is more like a glancing blow. Early grief crushes the heart. Later grief is less crippling. In early grief, memories tend to elicit mostly sadness and tears. In later grief, memories start to bring more smiles and laughter.

Grief changes over time, but it does not go away. In later grief, grievers don’t “get over” their loss. They don’t stop thinking or talking about (and sometimes to) their loved one. Holidays and birthdays are still hard. In many ways, they will always be grieving and missing those they lost, but not like in those early months and years. Tears and questions still remain, but they are not as fierce or as frequent.

Jeff Olson

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eff is a licensed professional counselor in the State of Michigan and has worked for Our Daily Bread Ministries as a counselor and a writer since 1992. He has authored a number of Discovery Series booklets (www.discoveryseries.org) on such topics as addictions, grief, depression and marital abuse. He also maintains a part-time private counseling practice in the West Michigan area. Jeff and his wife, Diane, have been married since 1986 and have raised two lovely daughters. He is an avid outdoors man who also enjoys sports, music, boardgames, books, and movies.

One response to Early Grief vs. Later Grief

  1. Even though I lost my mom in 2009 just last night I was awakened at 4:30am this morning crying because I still miss her so. Over the years the grieving has changed or manifests itself in different ways but there is still a place or a hole if you will that she once filled by physically being here.

    Since she passed the next year it was my dad then 2 months later my mom’s sister then my dog along with 2 very close friends then this year husband. I am overwhelmed and at times feel emotionless or numb. I have pulled back from life sort of and if not for my knowing the presence of the Lord near to me I do not know what I would do. For now I am just giving myself a chance to heal in my heart and I know it may sound silly but laughter seems to make the suffering better. I wish I could laugh all the time but I seem to cry more than laugh but it is better than feeling nothing.

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