When Does the Grieving End?

Keep the door to her life open. Edith Hickman

When does the grieving end? The honest answer is that it never completely ends. There will always be sadness and we will never forget, nor would we want to forget a life so dear to us; but the devastating emotions of new grief do subside over time.
I have read that we know we are healing when we think about our loved one's life more than the circumstances surrounding the death. Another turning point in grief healing is when the memories of our loved one bring more comfort than pain. A part of us dies when a loved one dies—the life we shared is gone. But if we allow ourselves to grieve, we will find one day that our loved one lives on in the life we create after loss.

From Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman, January 15 entry:

Though the loved one has died, the memory, the sense of the person's presence, has not--nor the possibility, after a while, of taking continuing joy not only from the reminiscences of the past, but in the extension of the person's spirit into our ongoing lives.

Into the nebulous, ongoing mystery of life I welcome, as if through an open door, the continuing spirit of the one I have loved.
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For an eloquent description of the lasting effects of grief, go to It's always with you...by Julia Keller. (PDF. Requires Adobe Reader. Free download.) 
The article was first published in September 1999 by The Chicago Tribune, and then reprinted by Marshall University in 2000, thirty years after the Marshall plane crash. The crash killed everyone aboard: Seventy-five members of the Marshall football team, coaches, university staff, community members and flight crew. The deaths left 70 minor children; 18 of those children lost both parents. It remains the worst single air disaster in NCAA sports history.
A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Julia Keller had just turned 13 at the time of the tragedy, Nov. 14, 1970. She writes: But all I really can remember is looking around the church at those stricken people and their friends and wondering what they would do next. I meant it literally: What would they do when they went home after the funeral, and the day after that, and the day after that? How would they go on? Almost 30 years after that plane disintegrated in a bleak West Virginia field, I found that I was still wondering. How did those with loved ones on the plane—the children, parents, siblings and friends of victims—ever resume their lives?
"Sometimes it seems like 30 years ago," said Keith Morehouse, who was nine when his father died in the crash, “and sometimes it seems like it happened yesterday.” Then and now, I wanted to know how people lived with such a loss, with the sudden, permanent demolition of the way they thought their world would be. Where does grief go?
The rest of It's always with you... attempts to answer this question with honesty and compassion. The author concludes: I asked about the progress of grief, but I learned about the purpose of memory.
Read more about the crash and its aftermath at marshall.edu
Or, you can access archives of in-depth coverage and anniversary editions at the Huntington, WV, Herald Dispatch.
We Are Marshall with Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox. (2006) 
Visit I'm Grieving as Fast as I Can for my own thoughts on closure. 

Go to next page: Shadow Grief

The Grieving Heart is getting a new home...
Grief has no timetable, but the launch of a new website does: August 1, 2019.                                                                     
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A Word About E-mail: One way to decrease SPAM caused by Internet bots is to deactivate the live address link. You can still contact me by typing this address into your own e-mail program using @, a period, and no spaces, the standard e-mail format. Thank you.

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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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