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Brené Brown opens up about how long grief lasts: 'It takes as long as it takes'

“Grief does not have a timeline," Brown told TODAY.
/ Source: TODAY

Author and speaker Brené Brown says there is no blueprint for how to cope with grief.

“How long does true grief last in the heart?” a fan asked Brown, who appeared Thursday on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.

“As long as it takes,” Brown replied. “We live in a culture where people need us to move through our grief for the sake of their own comfort and grief does not have a timeline. It takes as long as it takes.”

Brown, who can be seen in the new HBO Max docuseries, “Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart,” based on her bestselling book of the same name, says there are many ways to be there for someone who is grieving.

“And the best thing that we can do when we’re trying to support someone in grief is — my favorite question when I’ve got someone close to me who’s really grieving a lot is to say, ‘What does love look like right now? What does support look like right now?’” she said. “And sometimes they’ll hear, ‘You know what, can you run my carpool for me on Wednesday? Can I cuss and scream at you on the phone twice a week?’”

Brown said she loved the question about how long grief lasts, which she saw and picked in advance, because, “I don’t have the answer because not having the answer is the answer. It takes as long as it takes.”

Hoda suggested people just simply sit next to someone who is grieving or crying, instead of giving them a tissue or telling them “It’s OK,” because it may compel them to stop and it’s important to express the emotions they feel.

“There’s a definition of compassion in ‘Atlas of the Heart’ from Pema Chödrön, the American Buddhist nun that says, ‘Compassion is not a relationship between the wounded and the healed. It’s a relationship between equals.’ It’s knowing your darkness well enough that you can sit in the dark with others,” Brown said.

She also reiterated the idea that grief is natural and not something we have to experience on our own, which is a lesson that’s important to pass on to our children.

“Being sad is a beautiful part of being human,” she said.

“I tell my kids all the time: We’re strongest in the places that we’re broken,” she added.