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September 5, 2011

The Second Year: Different, Not Necessarily "Better"

Lily Pincus wrote: "Regression in grief must be seen and supported as a means toward adaptation and health." Pincus was the author of Death and the Family, a book I own, but have not yet read. I found this quote in Silver Linings: Words to Encourage New Beginnings, published by Darling & Company.

I've written in other postings about anniversaries of loved ones' deaths. Those can be hard in their own way. But, as I move into the second year of my sister's absence, I experience something I've felt in grieving other loved ones, as well.

The first year is hard. The second year is cold. In the second year, the person's absence takes on a solidity, as though it has gone from clay to rock ... maybe even is on its way to obsidian. I find this stage especially hard and I find it helpful to read quotes like the one above from Pincus, because the second year can indeed feel more like regression than progress in the grieving process.

If you are past year one of grieving for a loved one and don't feel that the grieving is done, honor that feeling. The world around you will not acknowledge your second year as it does your first few months, but don't measure your progress by quick "wisdom" from our secular culture.  Keep taking and giving yourself time to honor and acknowledge the loss, in whatever way makes the most sense for you. Don't judge yourself on a recovery "scale" or schedule.  Just keep getting along with your grief.... and know that getting along is, in fact, no small accomplishment.

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