The GuardianThe Guardian

‘It’s like the loss happened yesterday’: how long is too long to mourn?

By Emine Saner

16 Jun 2022 · 10 min read

Editor's Note

Mourners could be diagnosed with prolonged grief disorder; it is an imperfect solution for a Western society that struggles to talk about grief.

Losing a loved one can be life-changing and, for some, debilitating. Could a diagnosis help, or are we medicalising a natural human emotion?

For a while, Davina Rivers thought something wasn’t right with her. “It will be seven years in November since my husband died, and I’m still grieving for him every day, I miss him every day, I wish he was here every day,” she says. She has suffered from depression before, and she thought her intense grief had settled, like a grey mist, into a kind of depression. Rivers and her husband, Eric, married in 1998, and they have three daughters; he died in 2015 at the age of 49. She spoke to Eric’s brother recently, to celebrate the achievement of one of her daughters, which Eric would have been thrilled with. “He said: ‘Oh, yes, I thought about him one day this week’, and I just thought, “How different our lives are.” For me, it’s an everyday feeling: whenever I wake up, and go to sleep, I miss him.”

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