How Do I Know I’m Getting Through It?

Although everyone has her/his own style and timeline of grief, you can measure your progress by certain feelings and behaviors which come about as you feel better.

As your sense of humor returns, and you find yourself laughing, you know you’re feeling better. As you find your mood swings not so high and so low, you can feel the time lengthen between upsets.

As you find yourself making major decisions, you take responsibility for determining the quality of your life… you’re feeling better. Finally, when you learn that your life is in your hands and that you are capable of taking charge, you’ll know you’re truly growing.

Some milestones on the journey

  • There is a different kind of sadness, a change from a bitter sadness to a sweet one.
  • You are planning for the future – finding rewarding things to do and people to invest in.
  • You can talk about your loved one, your loss, without feeling hopeless or helpless. You have memories to share.
  • You give yourself permission to “take a break” from grief, to enjoy other aspects of life(and you don’t see this as a betrayal of the deceased).
  • Where once there was We – you are learning to say “I” or “MY”.
  • Nutritional intake and sleep patterns are approaching pre-bereavement levels.
  • The times are more frequent when you feel free from the heaviness of loss, when your sense of humor returns and when you can enjoy pleasure without guilt.
  • You feel you are relating to others.
  • Your health status is returning to pre-bereavement levels – you are exercising without “forcing” yourself to.

Your loss will always be a part of you – it makes you the person you are today and the person you will be in the future. Now and again you will be caught up in a resurgence of feelings of grief. This will happen with decreasing frequency as time goes on, but may never cease entirely.

Reprinted with permission
from material prepared by
Widowed Persons Service of Mesa County

Measuring Your Progress

You can measure the progress you have made in adjusting to your loss by identifying certain feelings and behaviors which have come about as you feel better. Complete the following statements to discover those areas in which you have progressed.

I’ll always remember the happy/funny time when…


I have made the following decisions during this past month…


I have discovered the following capabilities in myself that I never knew I had…


This has been a tragic experience, but I have changed and grown because of it. I have learned…


I have become…


I now feel like I have regained some control in these areas of my life…


I feel hopeful about…


I am making these plans for my future…


Taken from Self-Help Correspondence for the Bereaved.
A Manual for Bereaved Support Programs
by Mary Ann Harter Janson, R.N.,M.S.