Why does grief get harder as time goes on?

Grief is an unpredictable journey, often described as a roller coaster of emotions. While many people experience an initial outpouring of support from friends and family in the early days, the intensity of grief can paradoxically feel more challenging as time progresses. This shift can be perplexing and isolating, leaving many to wonder why grief seems to get harder, not easier, with the passage of time.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Dec 15, 2023
3 min read
Affiliate Program - Grief Works

The Early Days: A Flood of Support and Emotion

In the early days following a loss, people often find themselves surrounded by friends and family. This immediate support can create a buffer against the rawest edges of grief. During this period, the focus is typically on coping with the immediate aftermath, such as funeral arrangements and other necessary logistics. The presence and support of others can make these early days feel somewhat manageable, despite the pain of loss.

The Roller Coaster of Day-to-Day Grief Experiences

As time moves on, the day-to-day reality of living without a loved one becomes more pronounced. People experience a multitude of feelings, from sadness and anger to guilt and longing. This emotional roller coaster is a normal part of grieving but can be intensely disorienting. The initial shock wears off, and the depth of the loss settles in, often deepening the sense of grief.

The Changing Nature of Support

One reason grief may feel harder over time is the change in the level of support. Friends and family, while well-intentioned, may assume that the grieving person is adjusting and might not offer the same level of care or attention. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and misunderstanding, as the bereaved continues to struggle with their loss long after others have resumed their normal lives.

Coping with Grief: A Long Time Process

Coping with grief is a profoundly personal and often lengthy journey. It’s crucial to understand that this process is far from linear. Unlike many of life’s challenges, where a clear beginning and end can be discerned, grief weaves itself into the fabric of our existence, changing the texture of our daily lives.

Firstly, it’s important to recognize that grief doesn’t follow a set timetable or predictable path. While some models of grief suggest stages, the reality is far more complex. Individuals may cycle through various emotions—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—multiple times, in no specific order. These feelings might also resurface years later, triggered by a memory, a date, or even a smell. This unpredictability is a normal part of the grieving process.

As time passes, the intensity of grief may not lessen, but people often find ways to live with it. This adaptation isn’t about forgetting or moving on from the memory of the loved one; it’s about weaving their memory into ongoing life. This could mean finding ways to commemorate special dates, keeping their memory alive through storytelling, or adopting causes or hobbies that were important to the loved one.

Finding Solace in Support Groups

Many people find solace and understanding in support groups. These groups provide a space where individuals can share their grief experiences with others who truly understand. Here, the shared experience of loss can form the basis of a supportive community, offering comfort and understanding that might be lacking elsewhere.

Embracing the Roller Coaster

Recognizing that grief is a roller coaster, not a straight path, can be helpful. It allows for a more compassionate approach to the day-to-day ups and downs. By acknowledging that grief can get harder before it gets easier, individuals can give themselves permission to feel their emotions fully, without judgment or expectation.

Seeking Immediate Support: The Grief Works App

For those facing barriers to accessing counseling or therapy, immediate support is crucial. The Grief Works app is an excellent resource for those in mourning, offering immediate, accessible support and strategies for coping with grief. Its features are designed to resonate with those who are navigating the complexities of grief, providing a comforting online space that offers solace and practical tips.


The journey of grief is unique for each individual, and it’s normal for it to feel harder as time goes on. It’s important to seek out support, whether through friends and family, support groups, or digital resources like the Grief Works app. Remember, coping with grief is a long-term process, and it’s okay to seek help at any stage of your journey.