A close friend of mine just called wanting to talk about a medication her doctor advised her to take—an antidepressant. Her adult son died suddenly of a massive heart attack this past summer. An uncle died last week, on the same day a memorial service was held for her son. She just wanted some validation that her decision not to take the drug was the right one.

I’m reminded of a post from March 28, 2012, Grief: The Proposed DSM-5 Gets It All Wrong, written by Karen Roush. She states symptoms of grief, “sadness, sleeplessness, crying and loss of interest in every day pleasures” that last longer than two weeks would warrant a diagnosis of mental illness if the DSM-5 gets approval.

How long does it take to “get back to normal” after the loss of a child? Carol Henderson and twelve other mothers who lost children at various ages met over the past ten years and now have a book, Farther Along, documenting their shared journey. Their stories are an example of the tortuous route of grief.

Carol and Malcolm

Carol recently wrote that she spent the afternoon in bed on the anniversary of her son’s death–thirty years ago.

It takes time.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. I hear stories all the time of mothers mourning the death of children 40 and 50 years after their deaths. My own grandmother wept over Malcolm’s death, for me and my loss, and for her own–her first child died was born over 60 years earlier.

    Remember Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief? Although that theory has dominated the grief counseling world for decades, there are other schools of thought that propose grief without stages. In her book, “The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss,” Ruth Davis Konigsberg proposes that grief is not as predictable and able to categorize as Kübler-Ross originally theorized.

    Discussing the idea in a magazine article in “The Christian Century,” author Thomas Long comments: “Grief is not mainly a psychotherapeutic unfolding; it is a perilous, unruly, and emotionally fraught narrative task. When someone dies, the plot threads unravel, the narrative shatters, and those who are part of the story ‘go to pieces.’ The work of grief is to gather the fragments, and to rewrite the narrative, this time minus a treasured presence.”

    Many people we encounter, as we give workshops and symposia based on Farther Along, tell us stories of losses from long ago. Two weeks? Ridiculous.


    1. Thank you for your feedback.

      I remember my grandmother had a large picture in the living room of one of the two of her children who had died. He was about four years old riding a tricycle. Another part of life.


      1. Good for you for tackling this. I am sure nurses experience grief over the loss of some of their patients — I believe you touch on this in the book you are preparing now. I look forward to revisiting that and the other chapters.


  2. I still grieve my two sons who died, Scott 13 years ago and John, 11 years ago. And numerous other relatives, friends and fur companions. Two weeks is ridiculous!


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