How long does it take to adjust to the loss of a loved one?

How long does it take to adjust to the loss of a loved one? How long does it take to adjust to the loss of a loved one?

1 Expert Answer

Helen Harris, Ed.D.

Associate Professor, Diana R. Garland School of Social Work,  Baylor University

Adjustment to loss is a long process and tends to get worse before it gets better. Those not closely connected to the loss will move on with their busy lives while the person who has lost a spouse or child or parent will experience fresh loss over and over again for the first year while facing the first Thanksgiving, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, vacation, etc. without the person with whom they had always shared those moments.


There is a time when we manage our grief more than it manages us, and a time when the healing becomes strength, like a healed broken bone is stronger at the point of healing than the bone around it. But we are always changed, different because of both the life and the death of the person we loved and lost.


Continuing to miss our loved ones, and more importantly, being aware at times of how much we wish they were present, is, I believe, a life-long experience – and does not mean we have failed to move on.

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