“How long until you feel better?”

My sister asked me to have my therapist answer this question about 2 months after my son died.

She wanted to know so she could prepare herself for what to expect and also to know when to become concerned about me.

So the therapist’s answer was long and twisty but basically, we could optimistically look forward to me feeling consistently better at around the 1 year point, give or take a few months.

The therapist’s answer seems to be a common rule of thumb based on … absolute nonsense.

At the 1 year mark, there’s still TREMENDOUS pain, turmoil, crying, anguish and ALL the things that indicate deep grief.

Why doesn’t the non-griever know about the griever’s continued pain? Because the griever is hiding and going through it alone.


Well it starts with the long-time theory that grief has 5 stages (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance). And presumably, after you’ve gone through the stages, you will have healed, accepted your loss, and moved on with your life.

The 5 Stages of Grief are based on the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. In 1969 she studied patients facing terminal illness and the feelings they had surrounding their illness. Kubler-Ross then identified these “stages” for the terminally ill, not for grievers in general.

Unfortunately, the 5 stages stuck around for forever.

My main problem with the 5 Stages is the implication that there is an end … that when you’ve reached the “final” stage of acceptance, you are done with your grief. You have “moved on.” You no longer feel bad or sad over the loss of your loved one.

This false belief, that there is an end to grief … It gives non-grievers unrealistic expectations of how people in grief “should” behave. And this creates pressure on grievers to accept their loss and “get over it.”

𝗚𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮𝗻 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗮𝗷𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗰𝗮𝗻’𝘁 𝗳𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘂𝗲𝗱 𝗽𝗮𝗶𝗻 … 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆’𝗿𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗳𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗼𝘄𝗻. ⁣

𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂? Feeling lost, stuck, alone, still sad but feeling like you shouldn’t be because no one understands?⁣

If so, first let me say, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲’𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘆𝗼𝘂. 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗰𝗿𝗮𝘇𝘆. 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗴𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗿 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗼𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴.⁣

Secondly, you may want to use this tool I designed to help you re-discover your inner strength and your path for making progress.⁣

𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗺𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻.⁣

You may be thinking, “Are you sure Jennifer? I just don’t see how that could be true.”

Yes, I’m sure. I’m 18 years into my grief journey and I know I’m never going to “get over it”… and this is exactly as it should be.

If I cry when I hear the song “Have I told you lately that I love you?” or when I see the scene in Top Gun when the medics force Maverick to let go of Goose’s dead body, it’s not a sign of unhealthy ongoing attachment or mental illness or Prolonged Grief Disorder. It simply means I still love and miss my son.

{Click here to read an excellent article rebutting the recent announcement of the American Psychiatric Association of a new disorder-Prolonged Grief Disorder.}

I’m not in denial nor am I depressed. I’ve “accepted” that Jackson is gone. I’m living a happy and meaningful and fulfilling life after loss.

But I’m never going to wake up one day and think, “You know what, I’m totally fine that Jackson isn’t here and I don’t even miss him anymore.”

Love never ends. It would seem pretty obvious then that grief never really ends either.

Something I learned in my training as a Grief Specialist is that you can let go of the pain without letting go of your loved one.

So when it comes to the concept of “moving on” … I prefer to think of it as moving forward … and taking my son with me.

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