The 2nd Year of Grief is Harder Than the First
You are NOT stuck, and yes, this is "normal".
Many of the pieces I do should start with “no, you are not losing your mind.”
The 2nd year of grief can be the hardest emotionally for a griever, but few talk about it.
I’m here to talk about it.
We spend most of the first year going through the motions, consoling others, working to avoid our pain, and doing all the paperwork. We have a protective covering of shock surrounding our brains as we move through this first year. When we get to the second year, that protective sheath comes off, we suddenly grasp that we still have to keep going, and that we can *feel* things more intensely.
Many of us have gotten to the 2nd year of grief, and wondered why things are so painful.
Shouldn’t we be farther along? Are we stuck? Is something wrong with us? My family, friends, whomever, think we should be farther along now.
I usually hate telling anyone this because it means I may just freak them out. Don't freak out. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time, grace and space. The only way is through.
5 reasons why the 2nd year can be more painful:
The shock has worn off: In the first year of grieving, you may still be in shock and disbelief over the loss of your loved one.
On functional MRI’s our brains look like people who have had traumatic brain injuries. That brain fog actually helps dull the pain the first year (you can read my article here). By the second year, that brain fog has started to dissipate, meaning we are feeling things fully.
The firsts have passed: During the first year, you may have experienced many “firsts” without your loved one – the first birthday, holiday, or anniversary. While these can be painful, they can also provide a sense of time. In the second year, you may find that you are simply living without your loved one, without the landmark events that can provide a sense of progression in the grieving process.
People may have moved on: In the immediate aftermath of a loss, friends and family are often very supportive. However, as time goes on, people may start to move on with their own lives. This can leave you feeling isolated and alone in your grief.
The reality of life without your loved one sets in: During the first year, it may feel like your loved one is simply away on an extended trip. However, by the second year, the reality of life without them can become all too real. You may find that you miss them more than ever and struggle to imagine life without them.
You may feel pressure to “move on” from those who have not experienced loss: Society often puts pressure on people to “move on” after a certain period of time. By the second year of grieving, you may feel that you are expected to have made progress in your grief or “moved on” from the loss. This is usually from people who think the Stages of Grief are real - just know you have NO timeline - and the Stages were created for people actively dying, not for those left behind. (Read more about that here.)
Those of us who have lost a person, a pet, a job, a body part, or gone through trauma can be unexpectedly hit by a brunt of emotion the 2nd year of a loss.
This sudden surge of emotion causes us to feel like we have some how "grieved wrong" or even worse, friends, family, supervisors and co-workers suggest that we should be farther along.
This judgement from ourselves and others leads to hiding our feelings of grief, delaying the process even further (and causing some serious physical symptoms on top of it). The Oniony Layers of Grief addresses just that!
Don’t hide from your grief. You are not stuck. You are not delayed. You are human.
The only way is through. ❤️