Grief Recovery Milestone IV

Mourning Coffee, by Tracy Renee Lee

Although recovery weeks 9 through 26 may seem as though they span over a year or longer, they only cover four months. At the end of week 26, a survivor will have been without the physical presence of their decedent for six months. In the grief recovery practice, it is accepted that a survivor should be recovered by this time. If not, counselors and grief therapists begin to recognize patterns of maladjustment.

A survivor should realize that grief recovery does not mean that they no longer love or miss their loved ones. Indeed the opposite is true. If a survivor did not continue loving or missing their deceased loved one, counselors would worry that their relationship had been somewhat abusive or one-sided. Because the love you have in your heart is forever, so too will be your grief. The pain level of your grief will, however, move to a more manageable intensity and recurrence. By the end of Grief Recovery Milestone IV, a survivor should be able to experience respite to a greater extent than he/she experiences pain. The survivor should also be able to look forward to a more positive future than they have experienced over the last six months. If this is not the case, a survivor should consider seeking out certified or licensed grief counseling. 

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Grief Recovery Milestone IV

Weeks 9 through 26

By now, the survivor should have accepted his/her new reality. 

During these four months (weeks 9 through 26) the survivor must overcome the devastations of their new reality and adjust their life accordingly. 

These four months will be filled with learning new skills, overcoming the heartache sustained through loss, and adjusting one’s thoughts and attitude from being a victim of loss to a survivor of loss.

For most, this process is not an easy one. It is, however, necessary.

Even the most tedious of skills becomes magnified if one relied upon the decedent for it, and especially if one is deficient in it.

Many skills must be learned, many emotions must be overcome, and one is faced with adjustments in practically every aspect of life.

By the end of Recovery Milestone IV, a survivor will have been without their loved one for six months.

Six months is an important marker for grief recovery. It marks the successful accomplishment or movement of one’s grief into a recovery experience.  On the other hand, it can also signal complications with an inability to accomplish recovery without organized assistance.

By now the survivor should be able to visualize, look forward to, and experience better days than at the onset of grief. They should not be completely controlled by their sadness and loneliness. They should have extended periods of respite where grief does not interfere with their thoughts and tasks. At the end of the six-month marker, these times of respite should become the norm of their day rather than the exception.

If at the conclusion of the Recovery Milestone IV time frame one remains in acute grief, displays an inability to adjust to their reality as a survivor, or is overwhelmed and low functioning, it is time to seek assistance from a qualified grief recovery specialist. 

A qualified grief recovery specialist will be educated in methods that will assist the survivor in breaking their cycle of ineffective recovery methods and help them move forward; away from their grief controlled existence.

This assistance from a recovery specialist is paramount to the health and welfare of the survivor as continued ineffective recovery will open the gates for failing physiological and psychological health. If not addressed, this circle of recurring grief may contribute to life-threatening diseases. (Mourning Light III, 2019)

Certified and licensed grief counselors will be able to observe the survivor, recognize ineffective recovery skills, and redirect the survivor to a more complete and successful recovery experience. Most counselors can accomplish this redirection within 12 to 16 sessions, as long as the survivor is cooperative and willing to adjust, if not, the sessions may be extended. 

Medications are not indicated, nor helpful for grief recovery unless the survivor experiences suicidal hopelessness or depression. Grief is not a mental disorder even when it is intense and prolonged. Treatment for the mental disorder of depression is less effective for grief recovery than grief therapy. Suicidal hopelessness and depression are not a natural part of grief; however, they are treatable by licensed psychiatric physicians. If these risk factors are present, a grief counselor should immediately recommend emergency psychiatric care. 

At the end of six months of survival, a survivor should be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Meaningful connections to others
  2. Effective planning for tasks and activities rather than avoiding them
  3. A strong sense of connection with their decedent through memories
  4. Confidence in managing their difficult emotions when grief surges
  5. Approach their future with energy and enthusiasm
  6. Prepare and plan for difficult days (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) and unexpected reminders (sensory assaults such as perfume, hair or clothing styles, a similar physique, similar mannerisms, etc.)

If at the end of six months of survival, the survivor continues to suffer acute grief or is unable to accomplish the above list, it is time to consider seeking out grief counseling. 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. 

It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at https://www.queencityfuneralhome.com/pushing-up-daisies-blog.

Please follow me on Instagram at “PushingUpDaisies_TracyLee”.

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