“I didn’t see it coming. It hit me right between the eyes, and left me staggering and trying to stay conscious, focused, and standing. The shock was paralyzing. Just two weeks after my husband’s visit to his doctor we were given the diagnosis of stage four cancer. My thoughts raged against the obvious irrationality of such a truth.

He was only forty-eight. We have children yet to raise. We have a twentieth anniversary cruise booked. Oh my God, I can’t breathe! I can’t live without him. There must be a mistake. It happens all the time, doesn’t it? I have to be strong. I can barely stand, let alone stand tall. But he is my person! How will I . . .”

How long does grief last?

One person answers this question with “How high is up?”, another says “It is finished when it is finished.” The reality is when experiencing the loss of a significant family member or friend, our time of grieving will last longer than most of us expect.

The first few months may be particularly intense. The first year is difficult, especially the first Christmas or Hanukkah, the first birthday, anniversary. All are difficult days and we need to anticipate them and be kind to ourselves. The second year for some is a lonely and stark realization that life without their loved one is now a cold, harsh reality. John Donne writes “He who has no time to mourn, has no time to mend.”

You either do the work of grieving or you don’t. Unprocessed grief can bury vulnerabilities emotionally, relationally and psychologically. Healing begins with the courage to lean into the pain in order to mend. Processing with a safe grief counsellor is a gift you can give yourself like no other. You are important! Treat yourself like it is true.

“Sharing my intimate story with a compassionate grief counsellor is one of the most courageous and rewarding experiences of my life. It not only brought healing but a new strength that is difficult to articulate.”

Most Frequently Asked Questions:

Grief is the normal experience of loss in life. Grief is experienced as conflicting feelings caused by the end of, or change in, a familiar pattern of behavior. It can be the physical loss of a person close to us through death, or the social loss through divorce, or the occupational loss through job loss.

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What are the Symptoms of Grief?

Consider getting help through grief counselling if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Preoccupation with the deceased or with the circumstances surrounding the death
  • Longing or yearning
  • Sleeplessness
  • Feelings of emptiness, meaninglessness or worthlessness
  • Difficulty engaging in happy memories
  • Avoidance of reminders of the deceased
  • Isolating behaviours
  • Lack of desire in pursuing personal interests or plans
  • Angry outbursts

What are Ways of Healing from Intense Grief?

Grief work is difficult and painful. The only way out of it is through it.

Effective grief work should not be done alone. Grieving is a relational wound and healing occurs in relationship. Restoration occurs most often with talk therapy. Central to psychotherapy is processing the pain of loss through exploring the experiences of loss and finding a place of meaning to go on. Grief counseling is a kind of psychotherapy designed to help people cope with grief and mourning following the death of a loved one, or with a major life event like a divorce.

If you are struggling with grief, we are here to do the work with you.

What is Meant by Complicated Grief?

Grief is difficult to work through. Period. However, it becomes exponentially more difficult when it is complicated by multiple losses or by special events. In my own life, two days after my brother-in law’s funeral, which happened two years to the date of my sister’s death (his wife), my wife was killed in a car accident. The pain and losses became layered and intertwined in agonizing ways.

Those who lost loved ones during the COVID-19 isolation, complicated their grief and the process of normal grief work. These all significantly complicate grief and its work.

What Does Anticipatory Grieving Mean?

Sometimes we hear the pain of loss just around the corner. Anticipatory grief is the emotional reaction we begin to feel in anticipation of a significant loss of someone we love, something important to us.

How Does Grief Affect My Brain?

“I was completely exhausted. I had nightmares, trouble concentrating, and poor motor skills. It was hard to pay attention at work. Everything took twice as long to do. My body screamed at me with new ailments. My immune system was seriously compromised.”

Grief has a long reach. It has serious affects upon the brain and your mind. Sadness and loss have neurological, physical, emotional and psychological effect on a person. Grief can significantly affect your cingulate cortex which is involved in interactions betweenemotions and memory.

If you are struggling with grief, you do not need to struggle alone. Call one of our grief counsellors for support.