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.