Grief Has No Timeline

“Moving forward doesn’t mean you forget about losses, life changes or experiences. It just means, at your own pace, you accept what has happened and continue living.” 

Grieving is about loss. COVID-19 is causing the world to grieve many things and collectively we are all dealing with the loss of a world as we once knew it. 

Not only are we grieving the loss of lives, we are also mourning the loss of: 

  • Jobs
  • Financial stability
  • Social interaction
  • Communal events
  • Security
  • Normalcy

I have great news for you, I have worked with my friend Matt Shirley to create the timeline above, mapping out how long it will take you to get over your grief, not only in these trying times, but in life.

Grief Timeline: 

  • Denial: AKA Wallowing in self-pity: 4 days
  • Anger: AKA Breaking things around the house: 17 days
  • Bargaining: AKA Wondering what you could have done differently: 6 days
  • Depression: AKA Not leaving bed under any circumstances: 8 days
  • Acceptance: AKA Realizing you’re going to be ok: FINALLY 

That is just a bit of lightheartedness to perhaps bring a smile to your face today. I’m certainly not trying to make light of a serious topic, rather give you a visual of what some people expect. 

Unfortunately, as you are very well aware, the timeline to get over anything isn’t as cut and dry as the custom chart above. The reality is that we bounce back and forth between all stages of overcoming a hardship and there is no timeline for how long it will take you. 

It’s important to note that during the stages of grief, you don’t “graduate” from one and move on to the next. You can go back and forth, they can go out of order, sometimes you can get stuck in one stage for a while. There is a roadmap of sorts, but there are a lot of routes for you to choose from.

Grieving losses of any kind are difficult and extremely personal. What may be a cause for grief for some people might be taken in stride by others—or at least they cope with their loss with minimal stress. We all process different and at our own pace, and that is OK. 

When I was going through a divorce, I googled how long it takes to get over a divorce, and I actually came across a formula out there: 

“On average it takes one year for every five years to get over marriage and finally move on.” 

Who the heck came up with that?! Personally, I think that is a load of crap! Sometimes people want to get divorced, it’s 100% mutual, they split on good terms and don’t have a lot to grieve. While another couple is facing a devastating, unexpected divorce that takes years to move forward. 

During COVID-19 I have known many people who have lost their jobs and have had to change direction in their life. A business owner who owned his own restaurant for 30 years had to close his doors. No one can tell him how long it “should” take for him to grieve the loss of his business. 

There are thousands of books to help support those that are grieving the death of a loved one. I think there are amazing tips, tools, and suggestions to support individuals; but NO ONE can tell you how long it “should” take you to grieve and get to the acceptance stage. Everyone processes differently. 

If you are experiencing grief due to: 

  • Death of a loved one
  • Job loss
  • Financial instability
  • Lack of social interaction and connection
  • Cancellation of an important event
  • Normalcy that you took for granted

Take your time as you move through grief, allow yourself to feel each of the stages, [in whatever order they happen for you] knowing that acceptance doesn’t mean you are making it ok, you are simply accepting it as the new reality. 

Practicing self-care during grief of any kind can be difficult and seem overwhelming at times, but try to at least focus on the basics: 

  • Eating (Healthy foods are great, but during times of grief, give yourself grace if you order a pizza…at least you are eating and comfort food is not always a bad thing)
  • Staying hydrated (H2O can do wonders, especially if you are crying you need to hydrate)
  • Rest (Sleep, if you are having trouble, there are a lot of natural remedies out there that can help)
  • Physical exercise (I’m not suggesting you go on a 5 mile run or do 2 hours of yoga, try a walk around the block to keep your body moving)

Alone time is necessary and healing during grief, but don’t isolate yourself too long. Reaching out to supportive friends and loved ones can also be extremely beneficial. 

Give yourself time to go through the grieving process and be patient as you do it. Although fast-forwarding might be what you want to do, going through each stage, at your own pace, gives you knowledge and strength. 

If you have a setback or bounce around from stage to stage, it’s OK. Eventually, you will get to a place of understanding and acceptance that you have lost something significant in your life and although you can still be sad from time to time when recalling what you have grieved, moving forward is healthy and natural. 

Moving forward doesn’t mean you forget about losses, life changes or experiences. It just means you accept what has happened and continue living. 

Remember, You Got This! 




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *