No Timeline in The Grief Journey

“Oh really, and how long has it been since your brother passed, she asked me?” “5 years,” I responded. “Shouldn’t you be over that by now, its been so long,” she continued….

Have you lost someone dear to you? How long has it taken for you to no longer feel their absence? It has been years and you’re still impacted by their death? Certainly!! If you have loved, and someone has been a part of your heart, there is no timeline in your journey of grief. Earthy bodies leave and memories remain. A familiar song on the radio, a smell, an activity, a sight; all these things bring your loved one to mind. One little reminder and all over again their life flashes into your mind. Can you go with me further into the world of tragic death? There are ways of death that are tragic and often the way in which a loved one passes can overshadow the sweet memories of their life.

Let’s imagine, shall we, of all the ways in which a loved one can tragically pass away? You have heard the stories. The tragedies are happening all around us, and one by one, families and friends lives are being sent into a journey of sorrow and pain. Tragic loss brings along with it a whole element of stress that is often over-looked. The individual pain is tucked away inside of people and because of our fast paced society, we are forced to swing back into bustling life before our world completely stopped and took a tragic turn. Because of obligations we jump back on the carousal of life, and are left gasping for breath as the world spins around, but our mind is frozen in that one tragic moment. If you have experienced tragic loss you know exactly what moment rings loudest in your mind.

In my world, my moment began when I received a call that my brother was missing and it was believed that he may have taken his life. In that moment my world stopped, as I sat in my car, stunned. Stuck in that moment. To this day, when I write this, I cannot think of that without the tears welling up in my eyes. And, yes, it has been over 5 years. So, tell me when should I be done grieving? When will that not be a reality in my world? Well, I certainly can tell you not on this earth or in this life. There is no timeline in your grief journey. Push aside all the phrases. Yes, you have heard the ones; the phrases that dismiss your valid sorrow for the one you lost. Be in your grief and stop your spinning world from turning. Take a moment, and acknowledge you loved deeply, and there may be no answer to the tragedy that swept your world, but it is going to be ok. Even though it’s dark and you’re feeling so many emotions, and unsure of how to manage all the tasks around you, you are not on this earth to move through each moment without feeling. Joy and sorrow are very real emotions and tragic loss can bring about some of the most raw emotion; often greater than you have ever experienced. It’s normal. Please, if someone has said to you any one of those phrases that suggest you should be over your grief by now, know what you are feeling is normal and in a society that would acknowledge grief and sorrow more openly, you would see this to be the truth.

Almost 6 years into my grief journey, I can tell you the tragic death of my brother will always be my truth but I am normal, I am OK, and I live in peace. Please know that I have had to acknowledge my grief and feel through it in order to get to where I am now. It in no way happened overnight, nor am I suggesting that your grief journey will be exact to mine. You may be in a place of anger right now because of the tragedy that swept your world. You are OK, it is normal to feel anger (or fill in the blank with what your feeling), but it is important to note that if we are feeling and acknowledging where we are in that place of our grief journey we can move through it.

Previous years have unfolded in ways in which I could have never predicted. In those early moments of my grief journey I was unable to find many people who validated the fact that what I was feeling was normal. To hear you are going to be OK is breath for the grieving. I invite you to settle in and feel the emotions, acknowledge the place you are in your journey, and know you are normal and that you will be OK. There is no timeline for the way in which you grieve.


If you have experienced loss and you are on a grief journey and would like to share a bit about where you are in your journey I would love for your to write in the comments below. Often sharing our story and where we are with others brings a step of healing. If you need help and feel stuck in your grief I encourage you to reach out to a loved one or a professional. Please know you are not alone.


Much Love to You on Your Journey,



  1. Jennifer October 15, 2015 / 8:03 AM

    Beautifully written. <3

    • Joanna October 15, 2015 / 9:25 AM

      Thank you Jennifer. This one took a lot of refining before I posted, so I appreciate the compliment. Much love to you.

  2. Stephanie W October 15, 2015 / 3:06 PM

    I remember that day 😒 ohhh Jon Jon you are greatly missed.

  3. Kayla October 15, 2015 / 4:33 PM

    Hey Jo, I love what you said, and you said it so well. So many people can’t relate exactly. They can try & put themselves in you’re shoes & imagine but to no avail. You are right, the tragedy of it overshadows the great life & people have no idea what to say.
    I had a coworker who just lost her son about 2 years ago now. He struggled from his early twenties with heart problems. He needed a transplant. After much trial, FINALLY he got one. After that, his wife divorced him, leaving their 2 year old in limbo. He was finally feeling GOOD after over a decade & the person he wanted most, left him. His mom was his cheerleader, his nurse, his advocate, everything. He decided to try & love again & found a WONDERFUL woman. And then…. At 39, his new, beautiful heart stopped. It was tragic, yet expected. But weekly, sometimes daily his mom posts memories about him and encourages others to share when they remember him. That helps her journey of memory & grief. I don’t think the wound will ever completely heal, but I know I’M better because of JR’s LIFE. And the more you share & encourage others, someone will say the same about your brother & your grief journey. You are inspiring.

    • Joanna October 16, 2015 / 9:13 AM

      Kayla, oh how tragic! The stories are everywhere… his mother is a wonderful woman by continuing to share his life with others. That’s a beautiful way to honor his life.

  4. Your mom October 24, 2015 / 5:50 PM

    Thanks JoJo, it’s good to know others are still thinking of Jon.

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