Is The Second Year of Grief Harder?

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa

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If you're still in the first year after a loss, I imagine the title of this article alone might have knocked the wind out of you. Just knowing that some people think the second year of grief is harder than the first is enough to send some people into a panic. But it is a discussion that comes up time and again, often from folks feeling confused as they fumble through the second year after a death and beyond. So, take a deep breath - we want to walk through this question step by step. And I promise that it isn't all bad news.

I don’t think there is one source to blame for the widely-held belief that the first year of grief is the hardest. In fact, I’d guess it comes largely from humans trying to rationally make sense of grief's trajectory. If you can get through the first year, then you have some ‘practice’ with grief. So logically year two must be easier, right?

Not exactly. No surprise, there are a lot of gray areas.

The first year after a loss does allow our brains to become more accustomed to a world without our loved one. That doesn't make it easier to accept that they're gone or magically make life easier. But it does take away some of the shock and debilitating overwhelm of early grief. In that first year we learn who is there to support us. Ideally we find some coping tools along the way. We begin the slow process of proving to ourselves that we can survive. It's tempting to think that with all that in place, year two MUST be easier.

In some ways, it absolutely is. But there are also a lot of reasons it is completely cut and dry. That’s where we’re going to spend our time today – understanding the nuance of the second year of grieving.

A Disclaimer

Now, it wouldn't be a WYG article if we didn't throw in a disclaimer, would it? We're tackling a question today to which there is no right or single answer. No one can tell you exactly what to expect in your grief on day two, year two, or decade two because your grief is unique to you and what you have lost. There is nothing in grief that is objectively 'easier' or 'harder' for all people in all situations all the time. But we can tell you some common experiences that commonly impact people in the second year of grief and why they can be a challenge. And don't worry, we'll also share some ideas at the end.

7 Reasons Why The Second Year of Grief is Hard

#1 You assume it will be easier

Common refrains we hear from people grieving in the second year are things like, 'I thought this year would get easier' or 'Shouldn't I be doing better by now?". Though most people grieving would agree that it isn't reasonable to think flipping a date of a calendar would magically ease the pain of grief, it is still a subtle message that people have often internalized. The assumption that it will be easier means people engage in more self-judgment about their grief and more self-doubt, worrying they're not grieving as well as they 'should' be.

#2 You show yourself less compassion

As time keeps passing, we can become far less patient and gentle with ourselves. That voice in your head during the first year of grief might say things like, "of course getting back to work is hard, your husband As time keeps passing, we can become far less patient and gentle with ourselves. Whereas that voice in your head during the first year of grief said things like, "of course getting back to work is hard, your husband just died" or "don't worry about organizing the Memorial Day family barbeque, it's your first year without her". The second-year-og-grief voice might not be so gentle. The self-doubt, self-judgment, and expectations kick on. Suddenly that voice is saying, "I can't believe you're still feeling apathetic about work and so distracted" or "you really need to get it together and have the barbeque this year. It shouldn't be this hard".

#3 People aren't checking in as much

The reality isn't simply that our expectations change. Other people's expectations change too. People might be checking in less often. Both those offers for practical help and those 'hey, just checking to see how you're doing' texts slow down. Though some people may still be checking in on birthdays or anniversaries, many people may not. This can leave you feeling more lonely or forgotten.

#4 Asking for help feels more difficult

Some people know they could still use support but they feel more hesitance, embarrassment, or guilt about asking. We hear many grievers worrying that asking for help in year two is no longer as socially acceptable. They're concerned friends and family will start to view them as a burden, needy, or "stuck". This can mean knowing that you need help, but being too reticent to ask.

#5 You're able to look further into the future

The first months and even the first full year of grief can feel like survival mode. You're operating one day at a time (sometimes one breath at a time). You're just trying to figure out how to live in a world where your loved one is missing. After the first year, some people describe feeling like year two was when the reality of 'forever' set in. The shift from 'how do I just survive' to 'how to I start planning for a future without the person I lost' is not an easy one. It isn't to say one is 'easier' or 'harder' (feeling more confident in your ability to survive is amazing, after all!). But it feel like a new challenge for some.

#6 You spent year one tending to everyone's grief but you're own

Don't worry, you would not be the first person who fell into this trap. For those of us who are natural helpers and caretakers, it is easy to put others' grief ahead of our own. Many people realize that immediately following a loss they put all their energy into taking care of their grieving children or grieving parent or grieving sibling. This is a place you might feel very comfortable, but it also can be a form of avoidance. As those people start to regain their footing in the world and need less support in their grief, you might realize that your own grief has been on the backburner.

#7 What helped you in year one of grief isn't helping you in year two of grief

You may have done a really great job finding things that helped you in your first year of loss. You may have found helpful people, self-care routines, professional grief support, rituals, etc that all helped you to feel able to function. One of the tricky things about grief is that it is always changing. That means that your grief coping needs are always changing too. You may suddenly realize that the challenges of year two are different than those of year one, so those people and self-care routines don't seem to be meeting all your needs any more. The rituals that felt so meaningful two months after the loss might no longer feel quite right, leaving you wondering how you'll stay connected to your loved one. Don't worry, many of those people and things will likely still be useful, but finding new coping and support can be an unexpected challenge.

Yikes! How do you cope in the second year of grief?!

I know, looking at lists of challenges can feel daunting. Don't worry, one of the important things to remember is that we have agency in how we cope. Just being aware of these challenges can help, because they won't be as likely to catch you off guard. And just a few small things can make a big difference in coping with year two after a loss and forward.

#1 Work on showing yourself self-compassion and grace

I know, for those of you looking for a real nuts-and-bolt action plan, this probably sounds a bit soft. But this is a very real and very important step. Start listening for those self-judgements. If you're criticizing yourself about where you "should" be in grief, remind yourself that there is no timeline. Read through some of our concrete tips for going easy on yourself and showing yourself compassion as you continuing grieving.

#2 Communicate and give feedback

I know, yuck. Being vulnerable by saying you're struggling more than you'd thought you'd be in year two isn't easy. But it's important. Your friends and family can't read your mind, so being honest helps them help you. If you don't tell people you need practical help or would like them to check in more, there is no chance you'll get it. If you do tell them, there is still a chance they won't give you what you need. But you've asked, and you've let them know what they need to do to be a good year-two-and-beyond support person.

#3 Revisit things that you wrote off in year one

To say the first year of grief is a roller coaster is understatement! You're thinking and feeling things you've never thought and felt. Emotions and needs can rapid-cycle from one day to the next. While you're learning to accept, tolerate, cope with, and carry your grief in those early days, there may be people, places, and things that you just weren't ready for. Looking at certain pictures or listening to certain music brought so much pain that you've avoided them ever since. You wanted to go back to the place you always vacationed together, a place you love, but just the thought of it was too much that first year.

Whether you're aware of it or not, you have been slowly learning you carry your grief differently. Your brain has had more time adjust to the reality that your loved one is missing in the world. You now know what that feels like. It is still just as devastating, but it is no longer new. And you've hopefully found some ways to self-soothe and ground yourself when the thoughts and emotions come.

With this in mind, revisiting some of those things you thought were 'impossible' or 'too much' in year one can be a really good thing. You may find yourself better able revisit certain places, people, or reminders. Yes, it will still be painful. But you may be able to now tolerate that pain so that you can now also find some comfort. Continuing this process of visiting and revisiting throughout grief, knowing that what you need will always evolve, is a helpful skill.

#4 Remember, you can always seek support

Often the first year is when hospitals, hospices, OPOs, and funeral homes send you information about grief support groups or other professional support. If you didn't take advantage of it at the time, it can suddenly feel like it is too late. It is never too late! There is no expiration date on grief support. Grief will ebb and flow throughout your lifetime. It is always okay to recognize that your grief is proving challenging in new ways. You can always find a counselor, group, or check out new online support options.

What's your experience with the second year of grief?

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

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93 Comments on "Is The Second Year of Grief Harder?"

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  1. Kathy  January 29, 2024 at 6:18 pm Reply

    Seventeen months ago I woke up to find my husband had died next to me while we were sleeping. You are so right. Everything is so horribly wrong. His absence is all around me all the time. I can’t fix it, I can’t feel better, and yes, I don’t know what to do. I’m struggling to believe that I’ll ever be okay or find joy again. This is too hard…..

  2. Rae  November 28, 2023 at 11:23 am Reply

    It’s almost Christmas and it’s the second one without my father who passed away unexpectedly June 2022. Last year was alright I was numb and on autopilot and somewhat had a little Christmas spirit but I think it was automatic….THIS second year isn’t so great and actually I think I feel worse this year…I have no want or care to do any of these holidays this year and I’m trying to fake it in order to make it thru….but it’s harder this year and the people closest to me (hubs and eldest child only this year cuz other two kids are off at college and military this year away from state we live in) see it and feel it from me and I feel bad about that…I don’t want to ruin it for them when it’s me that’s the issue….i haven’t cried spontaneously since spring 2023 but ever since November this year came around not a day goes by where I haven’t just started crying uncontrollably and hard….second year is definitely worse then the first

  3. G  July 18, 2023 at 5:08 pm Reply

    My husband passed away unexpectedly 14 months ago. The first year was difficult for me and our son and daughter. But this second year is much more challenging on every level. Realizing we lost our person and that he’s not coming back, but also the life we lived as a family. Nothing is the same, home, finances, every day life is completely altered. Navigating this second year is incredibly challenging but we still hope through it one day at a time.

  4. Kim Nolywaika  June 8, 2023 at 2:39 pm Reply

    This is a very thorough and helpful article. I am in my eighth year after the loss of our adult son and find you have covered many points I never thought of. As I read through your list I kept thinking, “Well no wonder the second year was so hard.”

  5. Kathy Dancy  October 23, 2022 at 2:41 pm Reply

    It’s just over a year since my partner Brian died, from prostate cancer. I feel like it’s only now really hitting me – I’ve felt “I can’t get my head round the idea he’s gone forever”….when really I suspect I couldn’t face the idea, have distracted myself and felt pretty OK most of the time – and now it’s starting to hit home, bursting into tears unpredictably which I haven’t done since the first few weeks/months. Weird, but I guess I’ll find a way to cope.

  6. Paty  August 20, 2022 at 7:02 pm Reply

    That’s a great article. I lost my husband to Stage 4 cancer on March 9, 2021. We had no idea he was sick. He went fast, 3 weeks after diagnosis. For me the first year was easier than this one. I’m 17 in and while I feel like I am finally healing, this year has been harder because I no longer have those memories from the previous year. After the first anniversary, there are no more memories with him. Big hugs to everyone!

  7. Chris  August 4, 2022 at 8:38 pm Reply

    Great article. The second year was harder in many ways. The first year had a lot of numbness, and all the firsts rolled in with lots of support. The second year was experiencing the painful reality of my life without my boyfriend. I am beginning year 6. In some ways in does get easier, but many days, I feel that I am living in year 2. I wake up every day without him and I know it. Peace to all.

  8. Risa  July 25, 2022 at 9:54 pm Reply

    My husband of 38 years died in December 2020 from COVID. My dad and brothers told me 6 months after he died I needed to “get over it”. Cold-hearted bastards. This second year is definitely more difficult because I’m not numb anymore and no one even mentions my husband anymore. If I mention him no one says a word and the subject is quickly changed. It’s difficult. More difficult than the first year.

    • Cort Engelken  July 26, 2022 at 8:57 pm Reply

      Sorry Risa,
      Very true. The first year you are numb and then you really feel it. I’m there, too. People who don’t get it – don’t get it. All I can say is I know where you’re at. We have to support each other

    • Chris  August 4, 2022 at 8:55 pm Reply

      I found a friend (a woman I met at the funeral). We will still, after 6 years occasionally indulge in evenings doing a deep dive on our men. Any, any time she wants to tell me stories about him, I listen raptly, and love the look of enjoyment on her face. If you can find a fellow griever who likes to tell their stories and hear yours.

      • Andrea  November 10, 2022 at 1:25 am

        I had a cousin pass away 6 mths prior to my hubby. His wife reached out to me once she found out my hubby was murdered. At first it was nice having someone to talk to but she got to the point she wanted to “ move on “ and I was bringing her down. That too I understand, so I can see how it helps but also hurt. ❤️

  9. Wendy  July 20, 2022 at 9:21 am Reply

    2 1/2 years after the love of my life passed away from cancer I knew life would be different but I thought I would have some sort of direction or coping better than I am. Accepting the truth that I’m alone was hard enough but to know it is forever is the hardest things to get my head around. I have got plenty of friends, found plenty of hobbies. I have Tried to do all the self help things people advise, I filled in my time with worthwhile activities. Unfortunately there is still plenty of hours in a day left over to spend alone with thoughts of the past and the future. The past is easy with wonderful memories to smile about and think about but thinking about the future is a very different story. When you have shared 46 years of marriage plus the years before then when you were falling in love it is so very hard to think about the rest of your life without your soulmate.

  10. J  July 17, 2022 at 4:00 am Reply

    And the 3rd and 4th year are worse

  11. Janet  July 13, 2022 at 8:23 pm Reply

    It has been a year since our daughter died. Her birthday is this week. I have spent much of it on the couch. It does not help that people say stupid shit ALL THE TIME.

    • J  July 17, 2022 at 4:01 am Reply

      I am so very sorry; so very very sorry; love J

    • Shannon  August 5, 2022 at 1:55 pm Reply

      Hi Julie,

      I lost my son Alex on July 23, 2021 and know the feeling. It seems like a dream sometimes and I think he will just walk in the door. My heart goes out to you. Please know you are not alone.


  12. Julie  July 12, 2022 at 5:34 pm Reply

    It is just over a year since Ian passed away and I’m just waiting for someone to tell me it never happened and that he is at home waiting for me. That’s all I want, nothing else.

  13. Debra  July 12, 2022 at 5:26 pm Reply

    My husband died from depression on August 17, 2020. A handsome, seemingly healthy man, just gone when I got home from work. I wanted to die. This second year has almost wiped me out. I identify with some of you in that everyone told me if I could just get through that first year, it would get easier. Well, no it didn’t! I miss him and I know I always will. We had 33 years together and it seems like it’s been one long sad, lonely day since he left.

  14. Randi Weidman  July 12, 2022 at 4:27 pm Reply

    My father, mother and therapist of 3 decades all passed in the same 7 weeks. I think I have adjustment disorder. So much pain.

  15. Cindy  July 12, 2022 at 12:58 am Reply

    Death Is Nothing At All
    By Henry Scott-Holland

    Death is nothing at all.
    It does not count.
    I have only slipped away into the next room.
    Nothing has happened.

    Everything remains exactly as it was.
    I am I, and you are you,
    and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
    Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

    Call me by the old familiar name.
    Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
    Put no difference into your tone.
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

    Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
    Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same as it ever was.
    There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
    What is this death but a negligible accident?

    Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
    I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
    somewhere very near,
    just round the corner.

    All is well.
    Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
    One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
    How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

    Source: Family Friend Poems Website

    • Deb  January 31, 2023 at 10:13 pm Reply

      This is beautiful and I find it comforting. Thank you for sharing this Cindy. It’s been almost a year since my husband passed away. We were married for 35 years. I miss him so profoundly it hurts…

  16. Max  June 15, 2022 at 9:04 am Reply

    I hurt all over

  17. Marion C Wilson  June 7, 2022 at 6:10 pm Reply

    I agree the second year is even harder.

  18. Elaine Ratcliffe  June 7, 2022 at 8:21 am Reply

    Hi Nancy, I can relate to what you are saying so much. This is the start of my second year without my husband and everyone keeps telling me how well I am doing. Little do they know. My heart aches for him 24/7 and he’s the last thing I think of at night and the first I’m the morning. My brain cannot accept I will never see him again. Like you said, people who have not lost a husband or partner will not understand and it makes me angry when they say horrible things about their partners. Part of me wants to say just you wait until it happens to you!! It makes me feel like a bad person but if only they could understand how all consuming this pain is. Sending you much empathy x

    • Nancy  June 23, 2022 at 9:49 pm Reply

      Hi Elaine,
      I feel for you. I have no answers, but I understand.

    • Elaine Hinnells  July 8, 2022 at 7:07 pm Reply

      Hello Elaine. I lost my husband 9 weeks ago and tonight I just don’t know where I am. The pain is so intense. Unless you have been through it I don’t think anyone can comprehend any of the feelings.i have no idea how this all goes forward from now on. I know I’m still in shock really as he passed away 15 weeks after his final diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. He had a gene mutation which meant that no treatment would put it into remission, and so he chose not to have any chemo but his decline was quicker than we thought it would be.
      There are no words.

    • Max  July 13, 2022 at 3:27 pm Reply

      I understand what you are saying, I too think of my Susan 24/7, always on my mind. We were bound to one another always together. It’s 8 months now since her passing and it seems as if it was yesterday.
      I hate this new life that I’ve been given.

  19. Mona  June 6, 2022 at 11:57 pm Reply

    Today is the 1st anniversary of my mother’s death. She passed June 6, 2021. This past year, I have cried every day; sometimes, several times a day. I’ve been thinking all along that “if I can just get thru this first Thanksgiving, Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, Mothers Day, family reunions, etc , maybe it will be better after.” Well, tomorrow will be the 1st day of the 2nd year, and I’m not feeling any magic healing so far. We’ll see as time passes. And I often wonder why such a wonderful mother had to be feel so bad physically and emotionally for so many years. She took care of her 4 daughters, 2 which were severely handicapped; they passed at ages 36 and 43. Also she lost her husband and her parents. But the loss of her 2 children,…….well, mother felt a deep sadness and I realize more than ever now, that she was grieving so much, even 26 and 27 years later after their death. Grief changed mother somewhat; she never truly bounced back completely.

  20. Charles  June 3, 2022 at 11:09 pm Reply

    I started my second year on April 21, 2022. My husband of 46 years passed on April 20, 2021. I was thinking today the waves of grief are not s intense as the first year but, every once in awhile a fierce wall of a wave hits me. My navigator, co-pilot, wingman, companion, story teller, experience sharer, anchor, sage, isn’t here physically. Was he a dream? And then he melancholy hits me. There is joy at times; not as much as i would think. There is sadness, more than I thought but less than year 1. I call thee when people ask how I am doing: a joyful mess and a sadness mess. It is lonely and I know or at least i think I know my grief is as deep as my love for him. Afterall 46+ years can’t be erased in just one year or two or three or more… This journey sucks that we are on.

    • Laraine Prescott  June 5, 2022 at 5:09 am Reply

      I believe we will face those waves Charles until we meet them again, if you love words of consolation and the raise our hearts a little please look out for Donna Ashworthy Words they are beautiful and help me x

    • Ursula Traynor  June 10, 2022 at 5:55 am Reply

      Sending love and empathy your way. I lost my husband, my life partner for more than forty years, on March 23,2021.

    • Pam adams  April 22, 2023 at 9:10 pm Reply

      You and I lost our everything one day apart. I so relate to your feelings. Nothing, absolutely nothing is right anymore, and I don’t know what to do about it. I will think of you and hope for the best for both of us. May God bless

  21. Mark Roback  June 1, 2022 at 8:57 pm Reply

    My wife was murdered in January of 2017. We had been married for 17 years and together for 25. For me, the 2nd year was worse than the first and I would say was the worst overall. The first year I was just in shock, and I hardly even remember it. It was in the 2nd year that I came to realize that my life had been permanently altered and I thus had to start trying to build another. Along with the grief of the loss, there was the “survivors guilt” and the associated discomfort of trying to enjoy activities again. It got better. It is not a linear process, it bumps along, up and down, but life continues to pull you along to a better place down the road.

  22. Marjory McIntyre  May 31, 2022 at 6:25 am Reply

    It is comforting in a way that I am not alone in my grief when I see so many of your letters. My son on his motorbike died on 17 July 2021 when in heavy traffic because a car driver did not understand the highway code for motorcycles. His 57th birthday is on 5th June 22, the first time I have not been able to give him a kiss for his birthday. It was such a waste, a freak accident which should not have happened, I am heart broken. Still have a couple of months of the 1st year to go and cannot accept that he has gone.

    • Laraine Prescott  June 5, 2022 at 5:10 am Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss Marjory x

    • frances  June 11, 2022 at 5:04 am Reply

      I lost my beautiful youngest son 18 months ago today. This article in the 2nd year is true. I am still broken. I still get the punches in the gut. Paul is dead! I still think of him every single minute of every single day.
      I still ache and pine to hear his voice see him and what else can I say. It hurts like
      hell. I know they are others who keep going through the years and I look at them and I think maybe I can too. Some days!

    • Karen Traill  June 15, 2022 at 1:02 pm Reply

      I am only half way through my first year and i can’t see it getting any easier at the moment, we are all here for you

  23. Karen Traill  May 30, 2022 at 1:20 pm Reply

    I have lost my mum and dad within 4months of each other, day is a hard day, my dad’s birthday is this week with my mum’s next week then it will be father’s Day, i just feel angry, losted,

    • Laraine Prescott  June 5, 2022 at 5:11 am Reply

      Sending prayers Karen, it is a lot to contend with x

      • Irretrievably Broken  April 6, 2023 at 1:54 pm

        Today April 6, 2022 2:57am, is the 1st anniversary of his dying of COVID-19. I am struggling even after attending a 13 week grief support last fall.

        Because I caught Covid at work and brought it home to him (a kidney transplant patient on immunosuppressive drugs) I am filled with anger and guilt I did not protect him properly.

  24. Ginny  May 23, 2022 at 6:41 pm Reply

    I believe the first year is easier in a way because you are in a fog or daze, and keep thinking you will awake to discover this has all been a dream. By the 2nd year, you are no longer numb and you are fully aware that your husband of 47 yrs is never coming back through that door. It’s a rude awakening and the future looks so bleak without him. If not for my faith and my family, I would have no purpose for going on. We need to support one another as only those going through this can fully understand the pain, the emptiness, and the loneliness. This gets me through the days and the lonely nights. I will pray for each of you and that year 3 will be a turning point in your journey. We will never stop loving and missing our spouses but we have more living to do and that’s what they would want us to do.

    • Jeff Watson  May 25, 2022 at 11:10 am Reply

      Thank you so much, Ginny. This is very much the way I’m feeling now and I am hoping that the statement “this is what they would want me to do” will continue to sink in.

    • Laraine Prescott  June 5, 2022 at 5:06 am Reply

      Thank you so much Ginny for your prayers fo us all you are so very very right this is a club none of us want to belong to ❤️

  25. Nancy  May 21, 2022 at 9:58 pm Reply

    I lost my husband, my best friend, October 8 2020. The first few months are a blur. I put one foot in front of the other and move from day to day, but don’t understand why anymore. I appear “normal”, but my heart still hurts and I can cry at any time. At first, I used work as a way to function for 8-9 hours each day. But it’s just “muscle memory “, just going through the motions. Life has no meaning without him. And friends don’t understand, they still have the ones they love around them.

    • Nancy  June 23, 2022 at 9:46 pm Reply

      “I only think of you on two occasions
      That’s day and night
      I’d go for broke if I could be with you
      Only you can make it right

      ‘Cause every time I close my eyes
      I think of you
      And no matter what the season nears
      I still love you
      With all my heart
      And I want to be with you
      Wherever, ever you are”
      From “Two Occasions” by The Deere

  26. ~k  May 21, 2022 at 8:13 pm Reply

    To all here,
    thank you for the heads up of the upcoming 2nd year. You are appreciated.
    PS) the homework of “headwork” pays off…

  27. Maria  May 21, 2022 at 11:32 am Reply

    On the 14th of May it was two years ago my mother passed away. The first year I gave myself time to grieve and cry almost every day. I reached out to family and friends, and talked a lot about it. The second year I tried not to depend so much on other people, and found comfort in myself. I took it day by day, week by week, and focused on university and friends – trying to live my life, like she would have wanted me to. I thought I was doing quite well, however, stepping into my third year, I am experiencing an intense wave of grief, like I did in the beginning.

    I miss her so very much! I keep wishing she would swing by and see my new apartment, stay for a cup of tea, and talk like we used to do. The “how do I start planning for a future without the person I lost” has set in. I would really like her to be a part of the life I have built up these past two years, and what has helped me in the past doesn’t help me now it seems. I dont like to talk about it with my family and friends, because they dont get why I am continuing to feel so lost, and I feel a slight discontent with others, because I just want to talk with my mom.

    Hopefully this wave will pass, like they have done before, but it was nice to read that it is not only the first year that gets to be the hardest one.

  28. Penny  May 20, 2022 at 11:03 am Reply

    I lost my husband of 46 years in july6 2020. This article speaks volumes of year two. I think the hardest part now is the loss of the life we thought we would have. All our dreams and hopes for the future and our retirement years. Knoing he won’t see his youngest grandbabies grow up. The last one was born after his death. The heart ache our children still struggling with the loss of a great dad. I wake up often , saying this really happened…I am alone. We are not alone but its still lonely isn’t it?Grief can hit you like a title wave still. And it is true our friends go on with their lives with their husbands still. Its daunting. Never had to live alone and take care of everything myself . I am grateful for the life I still have but I sure my miss my best friend.

    • Ursula Traynor  June 10, 2022 at 5:59 am Reply

      Sending love and understanding ♥️

    • Eddie  February 12, 2023 at 3:56 pm Reply

      I just ran across your comments. Your story sounds so much like my own. I lost my wife if 45 years Feb 13, 2021 to pancreatic cancer. We met when she was 17 and I was 19. Never been apart. We both retired the same day and had so many plans. She wanted to be a grandmother so bad but didn’t know if it would ever happen. When our daughter announced she was pregnant, we were so happy. My wife got her diagnosis 3 months after our first grandchild was born. She had zero symptoms. They found a spot in her pancreas and on her spine. She fought it for 14 months. Near the end it had spread to her lungs and she was on oxygen 24/7. She did live long enough to see our second grandchild but not our third. Tomorrow will be the second anniversary. This week has been very hard. We did everything together and now I don’t have that. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I have a grief support group that has helped a lot but loss of a spouse is something you never fully get over.

  29. Judith Southart  May 19, 2022 at 11:47 am Reply

    My second year of grief knocked the stuffing out if me. I really thought after getting through all the “firsts “, things would start feeling a little less numb and I could start to rebuild some sort of new life for myself albeit not the one I wanted. How wrong I was, I felt after all the challenges of year one, very flat, sad, angry that other people could move on with their lives. I missed my hubby more than ever and had to face the challenges of working, bring up 2 children, supporting others through their grief over my hubby’s death and tired of putting on a smile when I wanted to scream

  30. Bob  May 19, 2022 at 10:18 am Reply

    My wife of 44 years died in August, 2020. Like most, I spent the first year in survival mode focusing on getting through each day. Today, after almost two years, I still have moments of sadness but I find them to be less frequent and intense. Unfortunately, the reduction in sadness hasn’t been replaced by happiness but instead by a sort of lonely and melancholy indifference to life. Most family and friends have moved on with living their lives and I guess that’s as it should be, but for me year two is when I realized fully that the best times of my life are now in the past. I still hold out hope for the future but with diminished expectations.

    • Ursula Traynor  June 10, 2022 at 6:14 am Reply

      Bob, I totally understand. I’m In my second year without my beloved husband , coping with a recent major health setback which is also life changing. At 69 I am coming to terms with accepting that the life I had – we had – is now over and that the future is going to look very,very different. I just have to garner strength and convince myself that though it remains a challenging time, a time that can still be downright cruel and painful, life is still worth living and is worthy of my patience and perseverance.

  31. Judy  May 19, 2022 at 8:19 am Reply

    I am in my second year of grief and it hasn’t gotten any easier The pain has got worse. some days l feel like l can’t get through l miss him so much HE WAS SUCH A LOVING MAN I would love to feel the touch of his hand just one more time My grieving has gotten worse

    • Ursula  May 28, 2022 at 3:21 pm Reply

      Judy, thank you for your post. I can relate to everything you wrote. After 59 years , married to the love of my life I feel a loss and wonder if I will ever be content again. It has been 17 months and I still cry at any time. I miss him so much.

  32. Babs  May 19, 2022 at 2:59 am Reply

    I am only 6 months in from losing my husband to cancer. I can absolutely see how after the first year of bumbling and stumbling through day to day survival, the second year is…What now?
    I find it still so unbelievable that he is not here. I am not in denial, but it’s like where are you? You can come back now!
    As time goes on I can see how in the second year you are faced with, actually, he really ISN’T coming back, and so I’m going to have to look at ways not just to survive, but actually live, on my own terms, without him by my side.
    And yes, if people are already falling away with their checking in, how much more will they do so in the second year. It’s a lonely place.

    • Ursula Traynor  June 10, 2022 at 6:16 am Reply

      It’s a very lonely place.
      Love and understanding sent your way.

    • Michael  November 10, 2022 at 1:58 am Reply

      My oldest son was killed on June 15th 2020. Hit and run. They never caught who did it. I am having more difficulty functioning in year two. When it gets heavy, it gets really, really heavy. The whole spectrum of emotion is very present, and being in and out of recovery has not helped. I am foggy, and short fused, easily provoked and not so well able to control my reactions. Of course, those things make me feel immature and childish. I am a 55 year old man that should have my self together, and know the answers, by now. At least this is how I often feel, in momentary lapses of whatever it is that keeps me in check most of the time. I know, of course that is a crock of whatever, but it’s my knee-jerk reaction.
      My son had special needs, so I gave everything I had to get him going in life. Sometimes bad things happen. I don’t know what to do to regain my clarity and focus, the only useful thing I have at this point is my resolve.
      Thank you for reading this, and for caring.

      • Matthew Rottman  March 10, 2024 at 4:04 pm

        Your feelings and experiences mirror mine too a T. Lost my wife of 32 years and my 22 year old son in a tragic accident about 1.5 years ago. We didn’t sign up for this…but here we are! I have given myself permission to live as best as I can!

  33. Levi's Mom  May 18, 2022 at 8:39 pm Reply

    I’m at five years six months after my daughter’s unexpected death. She was almost 22. On the first Memory Day, a friend told me “Now you know exactly what one trip around the sun feels like. No more. No less.” I found that to be true especially since year one I was heavily involved in my mother’s care at the nursing home. She died shortly before my first trip ended. Year two for me was more like year one, I think, for some other people. It seems that each year brought new situations, new challenges. Just last year I experienced my first flashback. I hope I never have another, but I’m pretty sure it will happen. Like most of WYG articles, this one is well written and spot on. Maybe one day others will understand why grief past year one is NOT a mental illness (as in the recent addition to the code). It simply is what it is.

  34. Rebecca MacLean  May 18, 2022 at 3:49 pm Reply

    My loved one died in March of 2020. I lost her and everything else too. It was hard to disentangle the loss of Betty from the loss of almost all of life’s simple pleasures, from singing in my church to meeting friends for a meal. I went to work at the church food pantry because it was one of the few things that was not shut down. Now, over two years later, life in its many forms is back, so now what? People are off to family gatherings; I don’t have one. I have found a small “family of friends” but they are not there on Thanksgiving or my birthday. My one venue for singing other than the church, senior centers, are still closed for the most part although I was finally able to schedule one concert. I have had a hard time lately with a new music director at the church who has pretty much dumped me and some of the other old-time musicians and brought in his own people. If Betty were alive she would have done or said something to make me feel special regardless. She is not here. I don’t have anyone to make me feel special any more. I was her princess, even after 44 years when she was 85 and I was 70. Now all that is gone.

  35. Dian  May 18, 2022 at 2:24 pm Reply

    Although I am only at month 9, I appreciated this article because, for me, it has gotten harder. The reality of the loss of my husband and best friend is just sinking in. Nearly every day there are new reminders of his loss and my new situation in life. I know that my life has been totally altered and I don’t want it to be and I have very little understanding of how to proceed. I cry more often these days than I did previously and wonder how I will make it through.

    • Al  June 5, 2022 at 12:00 pm Reply

      My dad died December 2021. So this is month 6. It still doesn’t feel real even though I was with him when he passed. His funeral is next month and I just dont want to do it because I don’t want to experience my dad as a memory. I’ve been really craving the reality in which he’s still here. And sometimes happy thoughts of being with him flip upside-down into painful reminders that I can’t see him ever again. Being surrounded by people that loved him too. Miss him too. It will be impossible to deny his permanent absence. I think that will be really hard for me.

  36. Carol  May 18, 2022 at 12:30 pm Reply

    Thank you for this article and to all those who took the time to comment and share their experiences. July 8 will mark the second anniversary of my husband’s death. We were married for 44 years. Last July 8 I felt some closure knowing that I had managed to live through a whole year without him. I was unprepared to feel so devastated on July 9, the first day of my second year without him. As others have mentioned, I have begun to imagine the happiness I might experience if he were to reappear in my life. Some days I feel so lost! I know I am fortunate to have the support of my brothers and sisters and my children, but as mentioned in the article, I hesitate to ask for help, not wanting to be a burden. I guess I should “ suck it up” and acknowledge that I can’t do some things alone!

  37. JOHN SUSNIK  May 18, 2022 at 2:48 am Reply


    • Laraine Prescott  May 22, 2022 at 5:51 am Reply

      Hi John I read your post and was immediately drawn to the lovely words you use to describe your grief, how you used to tell your wife about the soft spot the Lord has given her and about the power of prayer thank you John for sharing and I’m so very sorry for your loss and the journey you are on with us all

    • Elizabeth Parrish  July 5, 2022 at 6:20 am Reply

      I smiled after reading this one it’ so cute. God WILL get you through. I’m so greatful to my Lord for giving me my husband for the time I did have and very greatful that I was given faith by our Lord to remind us often that we have something to look forward to. I can see that you too can “see”. God Bless you

  38. Laraine Prescott  May 18, 2022 at 12:52 am Reply

    Yes I believe for me it is, I lost my John in Aug 2020 (in the middle of the lockdown) suddenly I spent the first 16mnths in a complete fog numb definitely numb waiting for him to return ! I think also the fact that we never saw him after the ambulance left and then being told he was gone was so difficult to accept and now the loss the aloneness and the realisation he isnt coming back is mind blowing and I only have 9 weeks left of my 2nd year , I’m forgetful, my words are jumbled , I’m dozy ( dropping things , getting things wrong dates times ) and the complete exhaustion some days that I fall asleep for hours and anxiety about going out in public places to socialise (I feel naked it’s so strange ) and the futility some days about my future without him , then other days planning for my future looking forward being happier , it’s just all mind blowing as I am a positive person and being told constantly I’m doing amazing . It’s all so muddled but it does us good to know others feel like me it’s not just me grief IS exhausting draining and hard.

    • Lorraine  May 18, 2022 at 4:30 am Reply

      Hi Lorraine I lost my husband in May 2020 and I was lucky (if you can call it that)to be there along with my son (in his 30’s), words ca not described how I got through that my mind went into meltdown as I watched my son watch his dad & best friend die before us. I totally agree with you with the brain fog as even now I forget the most simplest thing I forgot how to spell my granddaughters name yesterday. To me Lorraine the 2nd year seems worst my memory of him smiling is starting to fade and everyone seems to have moved on with their lives, I sound self absorbed but I don’t mean to be and it’s fair to say I’m still lost without him and finding a way through this seems to be getting harder not easier for me. I think what I’m saying is we need to reach out and let friends & family know we can be struggling, last night I asked my friend to describe how she felt when I lost my husband even though he passed 2yrs ago she was surprised to hear when i said I am still at that place of shock & now dispare & more lonely than ever so me reaching out has helped me & helped her to understand better about me.

      • Laraine Prescott  May 22, 2022 at 5:59 am

        Hi Lorraine thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment. I do believe it is a journey we all must navigate through as best we can I have a very good friend who visits most days and I feel very secure when she is around, it’s the days when I’m lost that I feel are waiting for him to appear(I know it sounds crazy) like he’s just going to come walking in the room or out of the garden and I think it’s nearly 2yrs should I be feeling better not constantly thinking of him ? I don’t know and like you I panic when I feel I can’t remember his voice or his face ! But thank you for your lovely reply x and I will reach out more x

    • Jane  May 18, 2022 at 8:31 am Reply

      Thank you Laraine for posting this. It has given me much comfort to read how you are feeling as I am much the same.

      • Laraine Prescott  May 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

        Sending love and prayers Jane

    • Digna Lebron  May 19, 2022 at 4:02 pm Reply

      Hi Laraine, reading your comment brought back so many memories. At the beginning of the pandemic, March 13th to be exact, my son left for dialysis and that was the last time I saw him. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with Covid. He was intubated and in an induced coma. I, on the other hand, also became infected with Covid and taken to the same hospital where my son had been admitted four days earlier. To make my comment short, I awoke three weeks later to find out that my beloved son had passed away on March 27, 2020. The first year has been the hardest of my life, I didn’t get today good bye or see my son again, he was cremated. I felt guilty that I had survived. I spent that first year with groups, family and so forth. This the second year has been hard because I miss my son more and more, always wondering when he will be back. Yes, the second year is very hard because reality starts setting in.

      • Laraine Prescott  May 22, 2022 at 6:18 am

        Hi Digna thank you for your reply I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son and your illness there has been so much to deal with, I agree the 2nd year brings the fear of forgetting as well as the continued anticipation of them coming back it is so very debilitating I send prayers

    • Ursula Traynor  June 10, 2022 at 6:19 am Reply

      I hear you oh I hear you so well I could have wrtitien these words and it is comforting to not feel so alone with this, the worst possible thing to happen to us. I’m sending love and understanding ♥️

  39. Ken  May 17, 2022 at 10:27 pm Reply

    In my 3-rd year now. March 21,2020. Found her not breathing @ 3:37 am. I was by her side…fell asleep for less than an hour. Most nights I still watch the clock strike 3:37. She was my soulmate! So many stories I could tell. The day she passed was the day the world stopped due to COVID. Never had closure…no funeral. Her body was donated to cancer research. He daughter took control. I was left alone….life will never be the same!

  40. mary bocchino  May 17, 2022 at 8:58 pm Reply

    I’d like a place where I’d be with people going through what I’m going through. It seems most people don’t understand what it’s like to loose an only child. A women said to me today loosing her mother was like me loosing my son, really??? I lost my mom, father, and husband young, nothing was like loosing my son, he wasn’t suppose to die before me.RIP Douglas

    • Litsa  May 18, 2022 at 3:14 am Reply

      Mary – one thing we believe is that each loss is unique and so much is based on the relationship two people have. There is something that no one who hasn’t experienced the death of a child will ever understand about that loss. There is comfort in just knowing someone else has at least experienced that. But also, we know there are many cases where someone who lived with their parent who died might share more with you than someone who wasn’t close with the child, only spoke or saw them a few times a year. Though people tend to focus on the type of relationship, often where we find the closest similarities in grief is when we look at the similarities in emotional impact. I hope, whether it be a child loss community or another type of grief community, you can find a group for support. The Compassionate Friends and The Bereaved Parents of the USA are both very good options with support groups both online and in person across the US (and the world in the case of The Compassionate Friends). They are both places for wonderful peer support.

  41. Nancy  May 17, 2022 at 8:18 pm Reply

    It’s 20 months since I found my son dead of an accidental overdose. The first months I was besieged with guilt thinking I could have gotten there in time to save him. Guilt so bad I could not grieve. The next phase was mourning. Not grief. I Did things. I did things to honor him/ worked on a small scholarship award in his name, a fundraiser, things like that. To distract myself , Still numb. By the end of the first year I was convinced there was something wrong with me. I was so numb I was intellectualizing not feeling anything. Slowly the guilt and horror took a back seat to missing him. And the numbness thawed and the pain appeared and I felt like it just happened. Now I find myself practicing “avoidance.” Most of the time. I plan when I will let myself think of the horror of what happened and the pain and missing him. I shut my feelings down to get through my responsibilities. I’m functioning but I’m not the same. I feel like I’m riding the surface of life. I miss him every moment. It’s a full and ever present silent lonely ache. And I often feel angry suddenly at the sadness of his life and injustices he suffered. I attend a grief group regularly. This has been truly helpful

  42. Janet  May 17, 2022 at 8:03 pm Reply

    Our daughter died from an accidental drug overdose last year. Year One was ridiculous. I was basically catatonic for the first few months. The pain seemed to lessen in Year Two until they found the man who sold her the drug (fentanyl) and then my husband and I were subpoenaed for the trial, and that brought it all back.

    My pain is almost unbearable when I see mothers and daughters together. She was my only daughter and oldest child. If anyone had ever told me this would be my life, I would not have believed them….

  43. Kathy Haff  May 17, 2022 at 7:41 pm Reply

    I really enjoy your newsletter and it is always helpful. I lost my Mom almost 5 years ago to cancer and I realize I am still grieving but it has definitely changed. I forward this newsletter to several of my friends and my Sister who are grieving and they all also comment that it is spot on. It really makes you think. Thanks so much!!!

  44. Pam  May 17, 2022 at 7:15 pm Reply

    I feel very much the same as many commenters here. I am a year and a half in and while it’s hard to say that it’s over all more difficult, it’s certainly difficult in different ways, and when it is difficult it’s every bit as bad as the first year. Someone described this feeling as yearning, and the yearning never goes away, and some days is soul deep. On top of it there are family issues with inheritance which multiplies the pain. But I have incorporated many of the suggestions and like us all, I am trying hard. I don’t have much of my own life left but I want to make it worth some thing to the world.

  45. Janet king  May 17, 2022 at 7:01 pm Reply

    My second year started in February of this year. I now know what they mean about it seeming harder. Not the learning how to do things in my own part, but the crushing realization that this is IT… my husband is actually NOT coming home. He went through almost 2 years of fighting cancer and was the bravest optimistic soul throughout it all. I live my life now trying to be like him and cherish every single blessing I have.. that’s what gets me through …

  46. Karen  May 17, 2022 at 5:00 pm Reply

    I just started my 2nd year without my beloved Bobby. It’s so hard because I’m totally alone. I have obtained a P/T job to help with the aloneness.

    • Ursula Traynor  June 10, 2022 at 6:22 am Reply

      I hear you and I know those feelings too

  47. Claire  May 17, 2022 at 4:58 pm Reply

    What I find to be shattering is what happens at night when I wake up. I can’t shut off my brain. I do numbers, try to be happy with good, fun, or loving memories. And I pray.
    Those cause me to miss him more because he is not here to share them. So .. I read until I can’t keep my eyes open. Being absorbed in a good book helps me.
    Sometimes I am awake 1 hour but I can be
    awake as long as three.

    btw I am in my third year of grieving.
    My days are full but every so often a wave does knock me back. I accept it and continue to live my life.
    I am grateful I had the love of a very good loving man.

    • Laraine Prescott  May 18, 2022 at 12:57 am Reply

      Hi Claire I’m Laraine nice to speak to you, I think as I go into my 3rd year that these nights and days as well as the sadness will weave itself into our lives ! As they say the grief is a testament to the love! But my goodness it’s hard, sharing helps I think !

      • Isabella  May 19, 2022 at 7:23 am

        Its has been 9 weeks since my father passed. I fear the coming years as I know it will get harder. I recently miscarried a few weeks ago and this has also put me I to shock. My father was sick with cancer and fought for 2 years. I thought I would have run out of tears premourning him but not the case. I try to remember memories but I’m so numb at times. The sun will still come out and living is an ode to the dead. Thinking of you all in struggle.

    • Margaret  May 18, 2022 at 4:52 pm Reply

      Hi Claire,
      I too am in my third year of grieving my husband/soulmate of 40 plus years…
      he was fine, not ill but suddenly died one sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden.
      it was 2019 in July.. had the service in September coincidently on the 15th which was the exact day we landed in Paris in 2018 there to celebrate my 70th birthday.
      my life now feels surreal…so completely changed in all ways… the solid wall of grief has cracked a little and once the shock eased after year two there is now a longing for his presence…the reality of never seeing him ever again is just too awful…I distract myself with travel.. even during Covid once the vaccines were available l started travelling.. not to anyplace we had been together but to new places…
      Dealing with grief as well as a global pandemic was bizarre! but now in my third year of grieving and the easing of restrictions i’ve noticed an easing of grief.. mainly because I can attend concerts and theatre and dinner with friends etc…all of this just to say that we are forever changed by grief but once standing up again in this new place, alone but with all the strength that 40 years of a loving, caring and close relationship has given me I will survive and I feel in the end, thrive.
      thank you for this board…it truly has helped me through the darkest nights.knowing that I’m not alone in my reactions to grief … the most difficult experience ever—does bring solace.
      I wanted to say Claire that I have found meditation tapes at bedtime help with insomnia but not always… reading is good too but it can’t be a page turner! 🙂

  48. Cort Engelken  May 17, 2022 at 4:53 pm Reply

    I left my grief counselor’s office, picked up an Rx and sat down to check my email and there at the top of the list from WYG is: Is the Second Year of Grief Harder? What!!??

    I had just been talking about this in my session with Doreen, again… I survived a year on February 2, 2021 when I lost the love-of-my life and partner-in-crime, Lorraine to COPD and started year two on February 3 and haven’t stopped talking about it! Of course, year two would be easier! How could it not. I was having lunch with my friend Gail ( at about six months) and she casually said she that the second year after her husband Mike died was worst than the first!! I was absolutely stunned! How could that be. Well, it be. Thank for this article. It’s spot-on as usual. Point #5 about looking into the future is so true, Year one you can barely function and Year two you get a glimpse of…this just goes on and on. Thanks to any and all who are helping me!

  49. Victoria  May 17, 2022 at 4:48 pm Reply

    I am finding this 2nd year surprisingly difficult in the fact that I am missing my husband more. The first year I was in shock, I had the memories of his very brief illness always on my mind. I almost felt a bit of relief that his suffering came to an end. Everything was a novelty and i was determined to cope. As the 2nd year came along those traumatic memories faded, the novelty of forging ahead on my own took back seat and I began dealing with the memories of my husband and our life together. At times I feel, enough already I’ve proven I can do this, I want to get back to normal, its time for my husband to come back. Then the reality of the permanence of death hits. I miss the feel of him the smell of him, the sound of his voice. I miss the future we had planned. I am moving forward and i have many days of joy and hope. I really am coping well and…..I miss him. Grief is hard work.

    • Lorraine Pollard  May 17, 2022 at 9:22 pm Reply

      I feel the exact same way, Victoria. The permanence of my husband’s death is really hitting me. I ask him all the time to come back, knowing that will never happen. I miss his voice, his touch, our beautiful ordinary life together. Hang in there everybody!

  50. Jeff Watson  May 17, 2022 at 11:15 am Reply

    My wife passed away in January 2021 after almost 40 years of marriage.

    The second year continues to cement the reality that she’s gone. The waves of grief are less frequent, however, no less intense. It continues to be a struggle to establish some kind of normalcy in my life. I recently experienced the second wedding anniversary without her. I feel, however, that I am beginning to tax my friends for support.


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