Is the second year of grief harder? - GreenAcres Group


Is the second year of grief harder?

May 13, 2024

Anyone who’s suffered a loss knows that grief isn’t a linear process. Grief comes and goes and varies with intensity, which means for some, the second year of grief can be harder than the first 12 months. Once the initial shock starts to fade, there’s the reality that this change is forever, unveiling layers of feelings and emotions. 

There’s no timeline for when grief should fade. Everyone grieves differently, too, but the most important thing is having a solid support system you can rely on during your darkest days.   

5 reasons why the second year of grief can be harder 

1. Reality starts to kick in  

In the early stages of grief, shock and disbelief provide a temporary cushion against the harsh impact of loss. There are many important things to deal with in the immediate aftermath of death, like making funeral arrangements and closing accounts. However, these protective shields weaken throughout the second year, forcing those left behind to confront the absence of loved ones who are no longer around. 

Planning for the future without a loved one isn’t an easy process. You’re heading out of the survival stage and into a more permanent reality, which brings many challenges and emotions. It’s important to embrace this period with patience and self-compassion to allow yourself to come to terms with the loss and start building your new future.  

2. Grief can take you by surprise 

Two years is a relatively short amount of time in the landscape of grief. During this time, it can be so easy to forget – even for a split second – that your loved one is no longer with you. These fleeting moments can be as painful as the initial shock of their passing. 

Similarly, within the first few years, birthdays and anniversaries that once marked special occasions are poignant reminders of grief. While they can turn into a celebration of your loved one’s life as time goes by, these milestones often carry the weight of sadness in the first few years after a loss.  

If you’re finding it difficult to face anniversaries and special occasions after a death, read our blog post for some tips and advice on how to approach them.  

3. Things won’t necessarily feel better 

Time can be a healer for many people, but things don’t always feel easier in the second year. While the initial shock of the death may subside fairly quickly, the ache of grief lingers for a lot longer. Moments of respite may be engulfed by waves of sadness, serving as a stark reminder that grief is a non-linear process.   

For parents and grandparents who have lost a child or grandchild, time passing can bring so much pain. Milestones like starting school, passing exams and graduations are missed and carry a lifetime of loss.   

The death of a child is unparalleled – that’s why Child Bereavement UK offers a range of resources on how to understand these feelings, as well as providing additional support should you need it.   

4. You may need to make significant life changes  

The second year of grief may be the time when you have to consider certain things, like downsizing your home or picking up extra hours in your job. Whether this is because you need a new challenge or have to adapt to a new financial situation, change can take you out of your comfort zone, making it a difficult experience full of unknowns.  

Change not only amplifies that your loved one is no longer around, but for many, the idea of ‘moving on’ can feel like a betrayal. These are difficult emotions for anyone to bear.  

However, changes can be positive. The person you have lost would want you to find joy again – it might just be a different joy from what you are used to. Many people who have gone through a similar situation find they are surprised by their own strength and courage. Perhaps you might be, too.  

5. Support may not be as readily available  

Immediately after a death, those around you tend to offer an abundance of support and sympathy. But this may change in the second year, with people moving on with their lives and forgetting to check-in. While this may not be intentional, it can be painful, nonetheless. It’s important that if you need help, you’re able to get it. Several resources and groups are available, including Cruse Bereavement Support and our friendly Bereavement Groups at our local Parks. See details about this at the bottom of the blog.  

How to navigate the second year of grief  

Here are some ways you can support yourself during the second year of grief: 

  • Be kind to yourself and don’t judge yourself too harshly about where you are in your journey with grief
  • Tell your loved ones what you need and how they can help
  • Reflect on the first year and write down your achievements, even if they seem small
  • Focus on practising self-care as much as you need and never feel guilty for putting yourself first
  • Join support groups to meet like-minded people who understand what you’re going through and can offer actionable advice 
  • Be patient with yourself. Your journey with grief will take as long as it needs to

Get the support you need with GreenAcres 

At GreenAcres, we’re here to offer you the help you need to navigate your journey with grief. You’re welcome to join us at your local Park for our Bereavement Group, where you’ll find a kind and supportive space with understanding from others who are also living life after loss. We promise you a warm welcome from our experienced and compassionate team along with tea, coffee and cake! This event is FREE for anyone bereaved in the local community surrounding the Park. Find out more and sign up to an event here 

 Our blog is also full of useful tips and advice on where to turn to if you need extra support. And if you need a friendly ear to talk to, please reach out to our experienced team who will do all they can to guide you through the most difficult times.  



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