It may help to understand that there is no magical time frame after which people say, "All is well." Grief survivors do not wake up one morning feeling, "I'm over it. I'm all better." Grief survivors report that even after a year, more healing takes place. They explain that time-frames, comparing oneself with others, and unreasonable expectations defeat and hinder the grief healing process.
People who tell their life stories of surviving loss report that an attitude of "in my own time" accompanied by a goal of "I don't have to be over grief, but can learn to live with it and reconcile it", experience fewer complications than those who place unreasonable expectation on themselves.
Review the last twelve months and try to balance the thought that "I have so much further to go" with "look how much I have accomplished." Affirm yourself by reflecting on the courage and fortitude it has taken just to get to this point, just to wake up and live another day, just to keep trying even when you've wanted to give up! What an amazing thing you have done surviving your loss up to this point, an extremely difficult experience.
Moreover, think of friends and family members who have "really been there" to help you and walk with you during this time. Think of those who listened, those who didn't place their own expectations on you, but rather accepted you as you were, unconditionally. What gifts they have been! What strength, comfort and love they have given!
Finally, think of the knowledge you have attained through your grief. Consider the hard-won insights you possess. You may now be moved to consider helping someone else go through this same grief process. "Perhaps someone else needs me to help them through the exact same thing!"
You are a graduate of a most difficult school, the school of grief survival. You may not be completely healed. Perhaps you are still wounded, but you now have the ability to be of strength, comfort and hope for others. You have the ability to be a lifeline for somebody else who is just beginning this difficult road of recovery.
Yes, twelve months have passed. The wounds of loss at times still feel fresh, but you are moving forward, you are growing, you are coping and living as best as you know how. Continue to reach out.
Palliative Care is under the Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine (PCGM). PCGM at Mass General offers a wide range of clinical expertise including inpatient services, outpatient programs and home based programs.