When the loss occurs there is the initial reaction of shock. This would rarely be longer than a few days. This is where the Child ego state incapacitates and basically goes into a state of complete non functioning cognitively, emotionally and behaviourally. The person in essence curls up in the foetal position and stays there. The person deals with a piece of very repugnant information (such as the death of a loved one) by collapsing in on self. The information is not being denied instead the information is not even being comprehended in the first place. If this lasted into weeks then one would essentially be in some form of catatonic state.
When this passes the person will be in a state of denial. The information is now comprehended by the person but the Adult and Child ego states deny that it is true. By whatever means, and by some kind of magical thinking the person convinces self that what they are being told is not true.
This also usually passes quite quickly at one level. The Adult ego state usually has to reasonably quickly accept the facts that the person is now no longer there. When this happens on the grief graph one can see the feelings of sadness and grief rapidly rise to quite a high and intense level. At this point the person’s everyday life each and every day is significantly effected by the strong distressing emotions to the extent that the ability to work, relate and recreate can be significantly effected.
This is indicated by Roses comment on the post on Depression and suicide:
“I realise now. Grief isn't about feeling sad or happy or anything like that. Its not like that at all. It, some how, is a physical thing. I can't just shake it off like everything else. It's not like a cloak i have to wear for a time so when i need a break from it, i can just take it off for a little bit and then put it back on when i need to. No. It's inside and it's all the time. Its something we carry on the inside that can't be let go of or put down for a bit. It just is.”
This shows the ever present nature and strong presence of the grief in the very early days after the loss.
Even though the Adult can not stay in denial for too long the Child ego state can remain in denial for very long periods of time, indeed years at a time. The Child magically sort of somehow believes that the person is not really gone or really dead. The individual sort of talks about the person like they are still alive. The person refuses to remove the deceased’s clothing from the cupboards or when walking along the street they catch sight of a person in the corner of their eye and they quickly think they have seen the deceased.
Indeed the very function of the period of grief and sadness in the grief graph is to break down the attachment and for the Child ego state to come to realization that the person is really dead. To end the denial.
It has been widely noted that the symptoms of depression are also commonly found in normal grief reactions. The two are quite psychologically similar. This is why depression often involves some kind of unresolved grief. Thus in the treatment of many, if not most depressed individuals one needs to find the time(s) when they did not grieve properly in childhood and redo the grief and goodbye work about the losses experienced. Depression often is an unsophisticated attempt by the Child ego state to resolve past grief reactions that it never successfully concluded. Depression is a recreation by the Child of process described by the grief graph.
If the grieving proceeds normally in a Free Child manner then over time the intensity and frequency of sadness and grief slowly decrease. After 6 months there will be a significant drop in the intensity and frequency such that there will be a noticeable difference experienced by the bereaved. By 18 months the vast majority of the painful grief is gone and life continues onward. Full psychological readjustment after the death of a very closed loved one probably occurs about 4 years after the death.
Those who report significant grief beyond these times are getting some form of significant secondary gains from the grief and loss process. Thus the process is dragged out much longer, even for a lifetime in some instances.