Grief: How Long Does It Take?

By: Judith Wimpee

Complaints often heard from people who are grieving include questions like:

So how long is long enough? My reply is, "As long as it takes for you." Just as each of us has individual DNA and fingerprints, so do we have individual and unique ways of saying good-bye to our loved ones. There are no rules or time limits on how long one should grieve. For some, the grief period will be brief, for others it may be years. Studies have found that people typically take somewhere between six months to two years. If you take less time or more time, does that mean you're not normal? Absolutely not! All it means is that you're unique and need your own time to work through the grief process. Remember, there's no time limit or requirement for grieving.

Many factors influence the grief process. One of those factors is the strength of the relationship with the deceased. For example, a son or daughter could have a distant relationship with a deceased parent, and the grieving period may be shorter. Or perhaps, a granddaughter may have a very close relationship with the deceased grandparent, and she may take much longer to grieve their death. Neither scenario is more right or more wrong, it's simply the time that each individual must take to complete their grieving process. If one isn't allowed to work through the grieving process, physical and/or mental issues can manifest. So, when someone asks you how much longer you're going to be like this, answer them with the truth, "As long as it takes for me."

Judith Wimpee, MA is a psychotherapist serving the Highlands Ranch, Littleton and South Denver, Colorado area. She specializes in grief and loss therapy. Grief and loss can occur from divorce, job loss, moving, and children leaving home as well as death. She can be contacted at 303-595-5454 or at

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