My Grief Care

Misconceptions About Grief

12 Episodes

Episode 5 : Do I Just Need Time to Heal From Grief?


Episode Notes

Does Healing From Grief Just Take Time?

How many times have we heard “Time Heals All Wounds”?  That is usually not the case for deep grief and can lead to frustration and disappointment for the griever and those who care about them.

Common misconceptions grievers and their friends can have are that they will just get better with time.

I have had tremendous healing since my husband’s death – but it wasn’t because of time – though time did help.  It was concrete action steps I took to work towards healing that made the difference.

If time were all we needed to heal from grief, I wouldn’t work with clients who lost someone 5, 10, sometimes 20 years ago.  Time can help.  But it is what we do with that time that can make the most impact on healing.  

We would never think this way with a physical injury, so why do we apply this thinking to emotional wounds?  The Grief Recovery Handbook says, “Just as broken bones would be properly set to heal and ultimately function again, so must the emotional heart.”

And that is what breaks in grief – your heart! 

Just like a physical injury, the pain of loss is very raw in the beginning. The wound is all that you can think about – it is all-consuming – and any movement reminds you that it is there. Grief is often described as the process of healing from the wound. If the conditions are right and the wound is not too deep, it may heal naturally in time.

But when the wound is profound because it is someone you loved dearly who was an essential part of your life, it can be too painful to acknowledge or tend to a wound – and so time does not always heal in the way we would hope.

If an injury is left unattended, then it can become infected, and the pain of grief worsens. An infected wound needs to be cared for to heal.

I want you to tend to your grief and help it heal.  It does not make the injury go away.  It can leave a scar, but as your life goes on, it becomes part of you and no longer hurts in the same way.  Healthy grieving is active grieving.

We may think that time works because as we adapt to the new and usually painful reality of loss and we begin to be able to function a little better. With that comes the illusion that time has healed us, but all that’s happened is that we’re adapting to the loss, yet we could still have unfinished business and unresolved emotions and grief over the loss that isn’t being addressed.

This misconception promotes inaction and waiting for something to happen outside of you when the key is you need to take healing action – when you are ready. 

If you have recently lost someone, you are just trying to survive, so I am not suggesting that you take some of the healing steps I would recommend as you aren’t ready yet.  And that’s okay.

But I want you to know that you can do things in the future that can really help you.  And I want you to know that if it has been quite a while since you lost your loved one and you are still in excruciating pain and waiting for time to make it better – you may be disappointed and discouraged.  You may feel stuck.  Please do not believe that it will just take time.

TRUTH: It’s the healing action taken within time that can make a difference. Time is part of the healing process – like a recipe ingredient, but it’s not enough by itself.


Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve said?  Why?

If you think it might be time for you to take some healthy action, check out our resources page or some of our other episodes.


“Time only passes. It does nothing. It is what we do within time that affects the quality of our lives.”

    Grief Recovery Method

Action is critical because grief won’t heal itself.

Healthy grieving is an active process.