A widowed neighbor finds her friends and family drifting away, She’s aware that her conversations focus on her painful loss but she’s missing her husband so much that she’s stuck. It doesn’t help when her loved ones tell her she’s spending too much time wallowing in her grief and it’s time to move on.


At work, a young colleague struggles after her second miscarriage. She can’t seem to find her emotional footing and she continues to feel poorly weeks after her surgical procedure. Family and friends don’t seem to “get” that she’s grieving and adrift. Suddenly, her once bright vision of an expanded family seems elusive and she wonders if she’ll ever feel well again.


What would make someone pass judgment on a widow, mourning the death of her spouse? Or a young woman whose body needs to heal while she adjusts to the reality that life doesn’t always work out as planned?


Even if we have not personally experienced the death of a loved one, most of us understand grief. We all experience grief when something is taken away from us whether it is a physical loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a symbolic or social loss, such as personal bankruptcy or a job termination. Mourning is our reaction to grief; it is the process we go through to work through our grief and eventually, adapt to our loss.


While it’s fairly easy to feel sympathetic in the days and early weeks following a loss, many people lose patience over time. And yet time is what the bereaved need; a period to adjust to the pain of their loss as well as what is now and will forevermore be missing.


It is imperative that we mourn our losses if we are to come to terms with them. If we are to support and help our friends and loved ones, it’s crucial to understand and accept that everyone grieves in their own time and in their own way. And most importantly, grief takes time and it can be pretty exhausting.


So don’t judge someone whose grief lingers. And don’t give them a time limit on their grief. Stay the course and be patient. Isn’t that what you’ll want someone to do for you?


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in e-book and print for "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage" and e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons / Sam Howzit

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Comment by byron leclair on January 5, 2014 at 1:09am

I really appreciate the last comment concerning time.  Though I bite my tongue when I feel like asking the question, "What's the time limit on grieving your son?"

Comment by byron leclair on January 5, 2014 at 1:08am

The loss of patience with those in grief seems to be the prevailing theme for those who judge.  I find it funny.  I don't want their patience.  I don't want their judgement.  I just want to be left alone. 

Judgement is a tool to transfer one's own feelings, whatever they are, to those in grief.  Its a double whammy for those in loss, first of all, we still have our grief to live and now we become responsible for making you feel better because we are caught in grief?  Give it a break, I just want to be left alone.

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