How Long Does Grief Last?

Get up, Peggy Ann!

Mom would say this out loud when she felt she had been sitting in her chair too long (reading, of course). Hilariously, she would obey! She would stop reading, get up, and start making dinner or doing whatever chore she had been taking a break from.

After five years, the deep pain of grieving her death has signifantly lessened. I’ve gone through all the stages (over and over) and felt more than I could have ever imagined.

In this momnet, it feels helpful to think about how my mom used to talk to herself. It reminds me of the poet in the Psalms who would speak to his soul. Often he would cry out to God about suffering and pain. I am a big fan of this honesty- God can handle our complaints about ourselves and about God!

The author admits he is in despair. He writes, “My tears have been my food day and night…My soul is downcast within me.” Tears for food? I have BEEN THERE!

Then he talks to his soul, like my mom would speak to herself. “Why so downcast, oh my soul? Put your hope in God…My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.”

I think it’s important to admit and acknowledge when our souls are downcast. See it, name it, speak it aloud to God. And then, the poet’s direction here is so brilliant. He questions it! Not in a shaming or dismissive way. But, seriously, why SO downcast, soul?

If you are grieving, you will need to sit with the honesty of feeling downcast. This may take longer than you or those around you prefer. “Grief is a long, drawn-out process, full of ups and downs, and this process generally takes longer than is recognized by society.”

I read those words in the paperwork the hospital gave my dad. I found them really interesting and helpful. They continue…

“Your grieving may go on longer than you want it to. You may tire of feeling always tired. You may grow weary of your weariness. You may feel weakened by the continuing pain. Your task, however, is to remain in your pain long enough-not a day longer than you need to, but not a day less than your loss demands. However uncomfortable this time is for you, it is serving a purpose. It is helping you heal.”

Ahhh, how long do we grieve? Until we are healed. So, don’t hurry the process, but do not stay in deep grief longer than you need to. At some point, ask yourself why you’re still downcast? Is it time to get up? Is your soul ready to put hope in God and remember all that is still good?

Why so downcast? Get up! Remember what is good. Trust God with your soul. (And like Peggy Ann, obey yourself.)