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What Is Life Like After Two Years Of Grief?

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It’s a common question: What is life like after two years of grief?

This question is similar to questions you might have asked earlier. What happens during the first year? What happens after one year of grief? What happens during the second year? These are markers of time, yet grief does not always know what time it is.

grief time markers

Time tells us everyone grieves differently, and for each person grief gets different, especially as you move through the grief process. Perhaps the first question you may need to ask yourself is — what is grief, for you?

That marker that says it’s been two years can bring up more questions, such as:

  • Has it really been two years? I thought I’d feel something different. 
  • I know I feel different than I did two years ago… yet now what?
  • I’m still searching for my purpose, that part of the grief is still with me. Who am I now?
  • How do I find a purpose? My identity is all tied up in what my purpose was then, so what is it now?

What is it like to think about You… or, are you thinking about what are others are saying to you? Society kind of “polices” grief, (really there are no grief police). So called society wants to control and tell you how to think, feel and behave.  Societies have rules, at least it often seems that way, about how the emotions of grief are to be displayed and handled.

So, as you think about you, what do you choose to believe about grief after two years?

  • What are your beliefs? Where do those beliefs come from?
  • Are you able to see, and even seize, the moment of joy that might be there?
  • Do you believe it’s not okay to believe in joy, and being okay? 
  • Are you adventurous? Are you social? Are you isolating? 

There can be new beginnings (figuratively and literally — New Beginnings is also a group in HOPE Connection). New beginnings are about exploring what life is, and perhaps what it can be after two years. It can be possible to create a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, loss reminds us that life is finite. On the other hand, purpose is not so finite, there can be more than one purpose. You can choose to recognize and follow your passions to create a sense of purpose and begin to live it every single day. Doing so can give you a sense of worth. Purpose may also include giving yourself permission to move forward with your life, guilt-free. Whether we want it to or not, life does go on, with or without your input, and it would definitely be better with it!

Remember, that grief clock doesn’t always know what time it is, and isn’t supposed to know the time, because as you grieve and as you learn more about you, that theoretical clock is there for support, not to tell you it’s time to be this, or time to do that. The grief clock can be put on the shelf quietly, for you to look at once in a while, when those times of reminders and markers show up, such as, “It’s his/her birthday,” or “today would be our anniversary.” It’s then, that the clock sneaks up and reminds you that yes, there are emotions still there. Don’t resist them, it’s Important to think about those emotions, they are letting you know you are still there, your heart is beating lovingly and it always will, even while you figure out life after two years.

“Love After Love”

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self. 
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.
— Derek Walcott

By Evelyn Pechter, Psy.D.