BUSTING THE MYTHS OF GRIEF
I am fed up with grief myths – those false expectations and misjudgments that make your grief recovery even harder. I have compiled a list of the top fifteen grief myths that I am exposing. I would love to hear from you about what grief myths bother you.
- Myth: Grief and mourning are the same. Reality: Grief is our own personal response to a loss. It’s the numbness, sadness, anger, and regret; all rolled into one. It’s the pain in your gut and hole in your chest. Mourning is the act of expressing your grief and releasing it by crying, talking about the death, writing, or even punching a pillow!
- Myth: The first year of grief is the hardest. Reality: The first year is extremely difficult to navigate, but the loneliness of the second year can be just as painful.
- Myth: Tears are a sign of weakness. Reality: Crying is not only normal, but it is a necessary release. Emotional tears have been shown to have a palliative and calming effect.
- Myth: Grief occurs in predictable stages: Reality: Grief is individual and unique. Grief reflects the nature of the relationship we had with our loved one, how the death occurred, the support systems we have in place, and our cultural and religious backgrounds.
- Myth: Grief has a shelf life. Reality: Grief lasts forever. When we love this deeply, the loss is always in our heart. Grief becomes less intense and more adaptable, but it is still with us and we will mourn the loss eternally.
- Myth: Time heals all wounds: Reality: Many people claim that time heals all wounds. I believe that time heals wounds to some degree, but the scars of pain are left in our hearts to remind us of what we have been through and survived.
- Myth: Keeping busy will make grief easier. Reality: You can’t put off the journey of grief. You can run around and keep busy, but eventually you have to look grief in the face and deal with it head on!
- Myth: Grief offers closure. Reality: Closure is for business deals, not grief. Grief helps us heal the wounds of heartbreak. We can be mindful, we can exercise, we can journalize but they only offer healing properties. We can’t tie up our emotions with a neat bow and call this process closed. Grief is a lifelong journey.
- Myth: The purpose of grief is to “get over it.” Reality: I will never get over the loss of my husband. As time goes by and the intense pain eases, I will adapt to my new life but Peter is still imprinted, ever so comfortably, inside the chambers of my heart.
- Myth: If someone looks okay, they are done with grief. Reality: Grievers resent people telling us we look okay, as if that would make it all go away. We may look hot on the outside, but on the inside, we are still grieving deeply.
- Myth: If you keep a stiff upper lip, à la Jackie Kennedy, you will get through the process of grief easier. Reality: Being stoic is not a smart choice when grieving. It takes extreme courage and emotion to grieve. I had to let out all my feelings in order to move forward.
- Myth: Grief is the same as sadness: Reality: Grief is sadness to the nth degree. Sadness is a part of grief.
- Myth: The goal of grief is to let go of your loved one and move on with life. Reality: Faggedaboutit! I will never let go of my husband’s memory and our love. It will not stop me from moving on, but I was married to Peter for a long time and he is part of my soul and continues to make me a better person.
- Myth: Dating means you are not loyal to your loved one who died. Reality: Peter would be the first one to tell me to get out there and date! Of course, he would have been horrified at the schlubs on the dating websites!
- Myth: If you still display photos of your loved one, you are stuck. Reality: It is important to have pictures of your loved one around. After six years, I can look at Peter’s picture and smile. I am not stuck! I am in the process of grieving.
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Laurie is the author of the book The Joke’s Over You Can Come Back Now: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. She can be contacted via her website: www.lauriegrad.com or Facebook