When Time Passes Too Fast (& they didn’t die ‘last year’ anymore)

Somehow, it already feels like the end of January. The new year has only just begun, but it already feels like time is moving too fast. The passage of time really gets to you inside grief. One odd, grief-specific thing about the New Year is how, once the year turns over, you can no longer say, “they died last year.”

If your person died in 2019, you can no longer answer the question, “how long ago?” by saying “they died last year.” Somehow, that makes them feel even further away. It also plays into that idea that enough time has passed since your loss happened, so you should be “better” by now.

These ideas we have about how long grief lasts – they’re so entirely wrong. Because we have a cultural belief system that says grief should be over once you’ve passed that first year mark, most people (including some grievers) think you should be back to normal once that “year of firsts” is done.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, year two can be even harder than the first, or differently hard. And when you turn that corner, when you can no longer say “this time last year,” or “they died last year” – it makes it all that more difficult to convey to others how much this loss still hurts.

That cultural belief doesn’t just mis-inform those who want to support people they love. It also makes grieving people think they’re somehow failing at grief if they still feel sad in year two. Or year three. Or four. Because we don’t openly talk about grief in this culture, we have a flawed view of what it’s really like. Because we don’t openly talk about grief, we don’t know what’s “normal.” We don’t know how to care for ourselves, or each other.

If your person died in 2019, you can no longer answer the question, 'how long ago?' by saying 'they died last year.' Somehow, that makes them feel even further away. Click To Tweet

My book goes into this cultural mis-understanding in detail, and I love conversations about a sweeping grief revolution. But there’s something even more powerful that will change how we understand grief – and that’s your stories. When we start telling the truth about grief, things change. I often say that writers change the world. Stories change the world.

The best place I know to share your grief story is within the amazing community inside a Writing Your Grief session. No platitudes, no advice, and no one telling you it’s time to move on. Being allowed to tell the whole truth – the good, the bad, the impossible, and yes, even the occasional beautiful – is the best medicine for grief. Find your spot in the next session, here.

And if you’d like to learn more about how to help a grieving friend or family member, be sure to check out this overview page for support people. It will direct you to some of the most useful helper content on the site. It’s a great place to begin.

How about you? How does the nature of time around the New Year affect your grief? Let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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