Understanding the Timeline of Grief

Experiencing grief is a universal journey that touches the lives of everyone at some point.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Jul 13, 2023
10 min read
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Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or any other significant change, the grieving process can deeply impact our mental and emotional well-being.

People experience grief differently. The amount of time it takes to process the intense emotions can differ depending on their relationship with the person who died.

In this article, we will explore the timeline of grief, understanding that each person’s journey is unique and requires compassion and support. 

Understanding the Grieving Process

Grief is not a linear experience measured by the ticking of a clock. It is a deeply personal and individual journey. When a loved one passes away, time takes on a different meaning for us. 

Renowned grief counselor, Julia Samuel, reminds us that grieving should be considered in a felt sense rather than a linear (chronos) way. Each person’s grieving process may differ in duration and intensity.

The Uniqueness of Each Grieving Process

At the onset of grief, it is common to feel overwhelmed and emotionally shut down, especially if the loss was traumatic or distressing. In such situations, it may take two to three years for individuals to feel secure enough to begin the healing process. Remember, the more significant the person’s role in our lives, the greater the shock and impact of their absence.

Respecting Defenses and Protective Mechanisms

During the grieving process, it is essential to respect the defenses and protective mechanisms that individuals naturally develop. It is not about tearing these down, but rather creating safe spaces where people can express themselves and find healing. Some may find benefit in seeking the aid of a therapist right away, while others may prefer to wait a year or longer before seeking professional help.

The Personal Nature of the Grieving Timeline

It’s important to recognize that the timetable of mourning is deeply personal and unique to each individual. There is no set or typical period for mourning, and it is crucial to respect your own grieving process. 

Give yourself permission to feel and express your sadness in a way that feels safe and supportive. Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being and allow yourself the time needed to heal.

Navigating the Stages of Grief

While the stages of grief, such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, provide a framework, it’s important to remember that not everyone experiences them in the same order or intensity. 

Some may revisit certain stages multiple times, and the timeline may vary. Healing is not a linear path, but rather a roller coaster ride of emotions and experiences.

Supporting Others in Their Grief

Understanding that people grieve differently allows us to provide support to friends and family members who are experiencing grief. Be present and patient, offering a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. 

Avoid imposing timelines or expectations on their healing process. Instead, extend empathy, understanding, and unconditional support as they navigate their grief.

Embracing Healing and Growth

As time passes, healing becomes a gradual and ongoing process. While the intensity of grief may subside, it doesn’t mean the love and memories of the person who died diminish. 

Accepting the loss and finding healthy ways to remember and honor them is an important part of the journey. It’s normal to have good days and bad days, and through it all, growth and resilience can emerge.


Grief is a deeply personal experience that can manifest in various ways and for different lengths of time. No matter the type of loss, remember that it is valid and important to allow yourself the space and time to grieve. 

Seek support when needed, whether from friends, family, or professionals. Embrace the healing process, honor your feelings, and find solace in knowing that, with time, you can find your way towards healing and hope.

Find Grief Support with Grief Works by Illume

Getting support when grieving is essential, but it can be challenging.

The Grief Works app offers 24/7 support in the palm of your hand. The 28-session therapeutic course will help you process your grief at your own pace, and you’ll gain access to 30+ interactive tools to manage your emotions when you need them.

Connect with a community that cares for you, attend live monthly group sessions with Julia herself and have the option to text-chat to a counselor when needed.

Reach out for support now to take the first step towards soothing your pain, building your strength and healing from grief.