Natasha Richardson's Gone: How Long Will Liam Neeson Grieve?

LONDON - OCTOBER 17: Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson arrive at the BFI 52 London Film Festival: 'The Other Man' Premiere at the Odeon West End on October 17, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
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Natasha Richardson and her husband, Liam Neeson, arriving at a film festival in London on October 17, 2008.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

(CBS) "It hits you in the middle of the night."

That's Liam Neeson speaking about the grief he still feels two years after the freak skiing accident that killed his wife, actress Natasha Richardson.

"I'm out walking," the Irish actor said in an interview for the March issue of "Esquire" magazine. "I'm feeling quite content. And it's like suddenly, boom. It's like you've just done that in your chest," using both hands to make a corkscrewing motion against his chest."

Richardson died at a New York hospital after sustaining head injuries while skiing near Montreal. Her death "shocked and devastated" Neeson and his sons, the family said in a statement quoted in the "New York Times." But Neeson, now 58, told Esquire that he had found a way to cope in the immediate aftermath of his the tragedy.

"I think I survived by running away some," he told Esquire. "Running away to work. But that's the weird thing about grief. You can't prepare for it. You think you're gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work."

How long will Neeson grieve? Hard to say. For some people, grief lasts a few months. Others grieve for years, experiencing everything from sadness, low energy, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed to memory trouble, aches and pains, changes in sleep patterns, and weight gain or loss.

Some people call the grieving process a "journey." But not Ruth Davis Konigsberg, the author of "The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss." She told CBS News, "The best one can say about grief is that it comes and goes - and then, eventually, simply goes away."