COMMON MYTHS ABOUT GRIEF

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Grieving the loss of a loved one can be a painful and lonely experience. You're flooded with intense emotions that can literally stop you in your tracks. Most people don't know how to mange grief in a way that is healing and transformative. You rely on things you've heard throughout your lifetime about death and grief to help you get through it. However, some of this information might work against you rather than help you. To help you sort through what's good and what's not so good, here are ten common myths about grief.

Myth #1: At some point, grief will come to an end.

Maybe you've heard someone say that you'll always grieve. Hearing this is not a consolation to some because what they hear is, "I'll always feel horrible." Frankly speaking, grief never ends but it does become more manageable. The intense feelings of hurt and sadness will fade into warm and happy memories of your loved one. Even so, keep in mind, that even when the grief gets better, you might still have sad days from time to time.

Myth #2: Crying after a loss is a sign of weakness

Tears are a natural reaction to feelings of hurt, pain, and helplessness, which are common emotions experienced after a loss. Tears are how we mourn openly.

Myth #3: Staying busy is a good way to avoid grief.

It's possible to distract yourself with a lot of activity. You might spend time hanging out with friends, working overtime, or throw yourself into a hobby. On the surface, these activities seem very positive. But, in reality, you could be using these things as a way to avoid dealing with your emotions. When dealing with grief, you should move toward your emotions not away from them. Keeping busy doesn't change how you feel. It makes you forget about your feelings.

Myth #4: Grief and mourning are the same thing

Although these terms are used interchangeably, they have different meanings.

Grief: The feelings we experience internally after someone we love dies.

Mourning: When you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outwardly. Celebrating a special anniversary and crying are examples of mourning.

Myth #5: Making significant changes will help grief end sooner.

Some people cope with grief by moving to a new home, starting a new relationship, or maybe take a long-awaited vacation. At some point and time, making significant changes after a loss might be helpful. However, a good rule of thumb is that significant changes should not be made the first year of bereavement. Making changes too soon could result in more loss and potentially compound the grief.

Myth #6: It is important to be strong for others

When you hear "be strong" it generally means to not show your emotions. And for sure don't cry in front of others. Crying doesn't mean you're weak! Being available and supportive of others does not mean that you suppress your own grief or pretend that you're okay. Feeling sad, frightened or lonely are normal reactions to loss of a loved one.

Myth #7: Grief is experienced in orderly and predictable stages.

The concept of stages was made popular by Kubler Ross in 1969 in her book On Death and Dying. The stages are: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. She created these stages to describe what she observed in terminally ill patients. The stages assume there is a progression of emotional states that one will experience after a major loss. What we know now is that the grief experience is not linear and does not follow orderly stages. It becomes a problem if this is the way you think a grief experience should be, when your experience is different.

Grief is like a winding path that includes patches of thorns, weeds, and gravel along with warm soft sand, beautiful roses, and aqua blue water. In other words, while traveling down this path, expect to have good days and not so good days. The analogy of two steps forward and one step back is a good way to describe the grief experience.

Myth #8: If you don't cry, it means you aren't sorry about the loss.

Crying is a normal response to the sadness, but it's not the only one. Those who don't cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.

Myth #9: Friends can help by not bringing up the subject

People are reluctant to talk to a grieving person about their loss because they don't know what to say and they think that talking about it will bring on more sadness. People who are grieving usually want and need to talk about their loss. They don't want it to appear as if their loved one never existed. Bringing up the subject in a caring and supportive way can make it easier for them to talk about it.

Myth #10: Women grieve harder than men

There's little evidence that women experience grief more intensely than men. Mostly, men and women are more similar in the way they experience grief than they are different. It's important to recognize that both sexes grieve consistently with their way of responding to life in general. 

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018