Thankyou, Norm, for commenting on the link, "Give Grief A Chance." I sometimes think that those of us who know what the real work of grief is like should send bereavement cards on the six-month anniversary of someone's loss. We need a tangible way of telling people that it is essential to keep telling the stories and talking about the loss, naming the beloved aloud, even years after the death.
When I say that the deep work of grief begins after the six-month mark, it's because until then we are essentially unaware of how permanent the loss is. We may have extreme feelings of emptiness, anger, abandonement, and overwhelming saddness in the wake of the death. Yet, even as we are consumed by our emotions, our intellect has retreated into numbness. We know that our beloved has died, but there is something in the mind that continues to hope, continues to "disbelieve", continues to convince us that this cannot be real, that somehow, some day, we will wake up from the nightmare.
It is during the first year following the death that our minds are confronted by the real extent of our loss. It's the birthdays not celebrated, the celebrations not shared, the accomplishments never seen. These are the things that make the loss sink in with a fresh fierceness of grief. We find we must begin all over again to acknowledge the death, grieve the loss, and figure out who we are without our beloved. Thus begins the real work of grief.