My Grief Care

Misconceptions About Grief

12 Episodes

Episode 11 : How Do You Get Over Grief?


Episode Notes

How Do You Get Over Grief?

When we lose a loved one, the emotional pain we feel is often far worse than we had ever imagined. The deep pain that follows a loss can be overwhelming and seemingly unyielding, and sometimes grievers can think that they should recover from that pain faster than they do.

Let’s try to make some sense of this debilitating emotional pain. First, the depth of pain is often proportional to how deeply we loved the person we lost. Anne-Marie and I will often say to our clients, “You are grieving much – because you loved much.”

The impact of every lost loved one is different for many reasons. The closer and deeper our lost relationship – the greater degree of pain we will feel. For example, if we learn of an old friend we haven’t heard from in years passed away, we may experience some sadness. But we aren’t likely devastated. But when we lose someone like a parent, spouse, sibling, or child – that is an entirely different situation. The loss of a very close person leaves a much bigger hole in our lives.

The pain of loss can also be more or less depending on the degree of disruption experienced by the death. For example, when young children lose a parent, their security is thrashed as children are wholly dependent on their parents. The child’s relationship with the world, depending on age, is primarily filtered through the parent. So, they can feel significantly at risk and feel the chaos.

Similarly, life adjustments are also huge when we lose a spouse. It can feel like we lost several relationships at once because our spouses often play multiple roles in our lives. Our spouses can be our best friends, our lovers, our life partners, and companions. They can also be our protectors, encouragers, and providers. When we lose a spouse or partner, we can be hit with so many adjustments that it can take months to handle the most basic ones.

Our pain can also be greater when we have unresolved relational issues between the loved one we lost and ourselves. We may have deep guilt or remorse because we had hurt our loved one or vice versa, and now we can’t resolve the relational chasm that had formed between us. We have many thoughts that begin with the words, “If only . . .” followed by thoughts and feelings we think should have been expressed but were never said.

Perhaps everything I just said was already apparent to you. And your question about the pain of loss is different.  Maybe you are thinking – “It has been quite a while since I lost my loved one. I think I have things pretty well sorted out, I’ve made a lot of life adjustments, I don’t have any deep remorse or unresolved wounds I can think of.”

“And yet, I’m feeling a lot of pain – still. I thought my pain of loss would be gone by now. I’m still deeply sad at times. I am sometimes ambushed by feelings of loneliness and even despair. It is as though my loved one had just passed away – all over again.”

There is a common misconception that we can heal enough such that the pangs of loss will be over and done at a particular time. But, sadly, the reduction and elimination of pain won’t work that simply.

Feeling painful emotions of loss for months (and even years) can make us question whether we are grieving correctly. We think, “If I am doing this right, I shouldn’t be hurting this much!” Well, maybe.

If we have been avoiding pain, numbing pain, or trying to act like we’re OK when we aren’t, we could be delaying the process of grief. But, keep this in mind. It is normal and natural for you to experience painful emotions long after a loved one has died. Feeling pain beyond our expectations doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong.

For most, the frequency, duration, and depth of your pain will diminish over time. But, the pain reduction isn’t predictable, nor is it smooth. For example: think about holidays, anniversaries of important dates, or something else unexpectedly reminding you of your loss? Of course, you will feel more difficult emotions around those times. Beyond that, waves of grief may come with no apparent trigger.

Is there something you can do to help the process? Yes. What you must do is allow yourself to feel. The experience of pain is part of the healing process. Acknowledge it and express it in writing or by speaking aloud. Conversely, don’t ignore, deny, avoid or numb your pain. If you do, the process of grieving will only take longer. But, in any case, the expectation that pain just ceases after a year, or two years, or at any particular time is not realistic.

If you are highly troubled by the degree of emotions you feel related to losing a loved one, consider seeking professional assistance through a support group or mental health professional. You may wish to look through our resource listings to guide your search for help.


  • Pain associated with grief is a real and a necessary part of the healing process
  • The degree of pain we feel is proportional to the depth of our loss
  • Pain may be amplified by the degree of life disruption and adjustments required
  • There is no specific endpoint to emotional pain related to loss
  • Healing is aided by allowing yourself to feel the pain and acknowledging it.


  • Examine: Rate the depth of relationship you had with the loved one you lost (10 being highest).
  • Consider: Is the pain you have been feeling proportional to the depth of the relationship?
  • Respond: Permit yourself to experience painful feelings without censoring them.


The pain we feel in the wake of our loss must not be avoided. Our pain gives testimony to our loss, it represents the heart of our love story, and it serves as our uncomfortable but vital companion throughout our grief journey.