Grief after death doesn’t end at any particular time or date. Healing from grief is a unique journey that’s individual to each person suffering from the death of a loved one. While the grief reactions experienced six months after death will vary significantly from one person to the next, some commonalities exist.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are Some Common Feelings or Experiences 6 Months After a Death?
- What Are Some Useful Ways to Cope 6 Months After a Death?
- Moving Forward: What to Expect After the First 6 Month Period
Depending on the type of grief suffered, experiencing some form of suffering a few months following the death of a loved one is normal and a common reaction to loss. The measurements of grief not only depend on the time elapsed since loss but also on a person’s ability to process and handle stress and trauma.
If you’re struggling with coping after a significant loss and need to know more about what you’re experiencing, keep reading below.
What Are Some Common Feelings or Experiences 6 Months After a Death?
After suffering a great loss, you can expect that you’ll need some time to process your grief. Adjusting after the death of a loved one may take several months and sometimes a few years before your life seems to get back on track. There’s nothing wrong with feeling the pain of your loss for several months afterward.
Although grief 6 months after death of a loved one will seem relatively the same as in the first few weeks, there are some exceptions. Here are some typical grief reactions you can expect during this time.
Yearning for the deceased
Longing for your deceased loved one is a natural reaction to loss. Most people experience the feeling of wanting their loved ones back. But, when the sense of yearning doesn’t subside and increases still, it can signal the presence of complicated grief. While wishing that your loved one was still here is typical, the persistent and debilitating grief reactions that create a longing for them beyond what’s reasonable is when grief gets complicated.
Distressingly intense yearning for the deceased or wishing they were there include some of the following symptoms:
- Searching for the deceased
- Incessantly thinking and talking about them
- Constantly looking at their photos
- Imagining what they’d look like
Anger and resentment
For many people who experience the sudden death of a loved one, it’s not unusual for the feelings of shock and disbelief to turn into anger and resentment. Depending on how your loved one died and the circumstances, it’s possible to feel anger and resentment toward those responsible for their death. Sometimes you might even find yourself questioning God or your faith when your loved one’s death doesn’t make sense to you.
These reactions are normal and begin to taper off after the first six months post-loss. If you’re having trouble moving past these feelings, it helps to talk to someone about what you’re experiencing. Holding back on your anger and resentment can have negative implications on your health and healing.
Beginning to accept the death
Everyone deals with the death of their loved ones differently. Some people find it easier than others to accept that their loved one's died. Whether you fall into the category of someone who's accepted the death of your loved one, or you're having problems with it, has no direct correlation to how much you loved them.
People who were less prepared for their loved one's death have a more challenging time accepting it than those who witnessed their loved one struggle with illness or disease. The six-months post-loss mark is when you should begin to move past this stage of grieving in either situation.
What Are Some Useful Ways to Cope 6 Months After a Death?
While the six-month post-loss period isn’t an indicator of how long grief lasts, you can expect certain improvements in how you feel and process grief. Recovery from grief six months after loss depends on your individual experiences and your ability to manage your grief-related reactions. Everyone’s different, and what works for one person isn’t an indicator of its success in another. The following tips below will help you as you learn to manage your loss as you move forward in your grief journey.
Manage your stress levels
Stress, loneliness, and depression are prevalent symptoms of grief, lasting anywhere from several weeks to a few months. At six months after a loss, you can expect the presence of some or all of these normal grief reactions. However, did you know that the longer you experience these symptoms, the more likely it is that you’ll suffer from prolonged and complicated grief?
You can reduce your stress levels by making a list of things needing attention that fall outside of your suffering. Everyday obligations can snowball out of control if left unmanaged. Taking control of things within your reach is one way of lessening your stress.
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Ask for help
There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. Whether you ask your support system to take action or seek the professional help of grief counseling or therapy, learning to lean into others for support is crucial in getting you past your grief. By this time, your suffering will have subsided somewhat.
Almost everyone begins to feel better at the six-month mark. However, this doesn’t mean that the worse to come is over. Expect that your grief will ebb and flow during this time. Some days, you’ll feel as if you’re back to normal, and the very next day, you’ll succumb to sorrow.
Do something for yourself
Many grieving individuals forget to put themselves ahead of their grief. They allow their pain and suffering to take a stronghold on their everyday lives to the detriment of their physical and mental health. Taking a break from your grief to do something positive for yourself isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Your mind, body, and soul need restoration amid all of the chaos associated with grief.
Simple everyday activities that help restore you are talking to your friends and support group in person, going out for a morning walk, or taking in a movie. Not only do these activities provide a distraction from your pain, but they also help uplift you so you can better fight off stress and depression.
Tap into your resources
Fortunately, there are many grief resources available to individuals who've suffered through loss. You're truly never alone when dealing with the death of a loved one. All you need to do is reach out and let others know what you're dealing with and allow them to guide you through your grief journey.
Remember that your friends and loved ones want you to feel better. Many of them know and understand the type of pain you're suffering. Thinking that no one can relate to your pain and suffering is a normal part of grieving. If you genuinely find that no one knows what you're experiencing, consider connecting with grief support groups in your community or online.
Moving Forward: What to Expect After the First 6 Month Period
After the first few months following a significant loss, you can expect your life to slowly get back to a new normal. Certain changes to the way you lived or identified yourself are normal, depending on the type of loss you suffered. Some bereaved individuals will suffer what’s known as prolonged grief disorder.
This common occurrence is when someone who’s grieving suffers from persistent and delayed grief reactions. Here are some things about what to expect after the first six-month period following a loss.
A changed outlook
Depending on the intensity and duration of the trauma experienced, some people dealing with post-loss grief will find that their perspectives and world-views change after the initial six months. They no longer view the world through the eyes of innocence, and they begin to question things and events based on those experiences. In time, they may start to see hope for their future and a restoration of faith.
Most people will see an increased recovery from many grief-related symptoms after the initial six-month period following a loss. However, some will linger in their despair and see no significant signs of improvement in the first few months post-loss.
A person dealing with the death of a loved one, who’s also care-giving for another, for example, will see their grief-related symptoms increase. How long grief lasts depends on the amount of stress present and handling stressful situations and negative emotions.
When you start to rebuild your resilience to stress and trauma, you begin restructuring your thoughts and reactions to future losses or traumas. The more frequently you repeat your story, your story of grief and loss begins to take on a different shape. You start seeing things more clearly and developing ways of shielding yourself from the profound pain and sorrow associated with debilitating loss.
Once your story starts flowing, the more you tell it, a new narrative emerges. You’ll see the emergence of a defining beginning, middle, and end more clearly.
Getting back to normal
After the initial intense period of grief, you'll find that your life is slowly beginning to go back to normal. Returning to normal doesn't mean that things will go back to the way they used to be before because your life will never be the same again. But, you can look forward to the emergence of a new normal for you.
Your life will start to take on a different shape. Your new identity will begin to emerge, and you'll find that everything starts falling into place for you. Gradually, after you've undergone what's perhaps a life-changing loss, you'll emerge as a new person and a survivor.
What to Expect After 6 Months of Grieving
The first six months of bereavement are associated with adjusting to your loss and undergoing the initial grief reactions commonly associated with the death of a loved one. Because grief doesn’t end after the first six months, you can expect your grief reactions to continue to take shape and evolve beyond the initial six months of grieving.
In normal grief, you can expect to feel better from six to twelve months post-loss. However, allow yourself the necessary time to grieve and adjust to your new life without concerning yourself too much with the numbers.