Myth #1: Grief follows a logical, linear pattern
There is no right or wrong way or time frame for grieving. Each person’s grief is uniquely his or her own and it is neither predictable nor orderly. While stages of grief have been identified, it is not helpful to try to tell somewhat what their grief and mourning experiences should be or to try to fit our own grief into a nice neat package. Grief is the internal thoughts and feelings we feel when we experience a loss. Mourning, on the other hand, is taking the internal feelings of grief and expressing it outside ourselves.
Grief is the healing process that helps us deal with the loss of a loved one. Grief will ebb and flow throughout our life after a loss and it is the result of loving. While we don’t ‘get over’ the loss of someone, we do learn to live with that loss.
Myth #2: Moving on with life means you are forgetting about the loved one who died
Moving on means you’ve accepted the reality of your loved one’s death. That is not thesame as forgetting. Finding ways to honor him or her while creating a new life allows you to keep your loved one’s memory as a part of you. As new opportunities emerge you are able to make commitments to the future, realizing that the person who died will never be forgotten, and knowing that your life can and will move forward.
Myth #3: The goal is to ‘get over’ grief
We live in a society that is both afraid of death and afraid of emotions. We are not encouraged to express our emotions and many people view grief as something to get over rather than experience. The result is that many people either grieve in isolation or attempt to run away from their grief.
The problem with trying to mask or move away from grief is that it results in internal anxiety and confusion. Grief is a process and moving that along too fast or denying the normal pain can cause people to think their thoughts and feelings are abnormal. The goal is to go through the experience and move forward into a new reality.
Myth #4: It is important to have a strong outer appearance
Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing can only make it worse. The energy it takes to try and do this will result in far greater pain. For healing to occur it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
It is really the pain of the loss that we want to avoid and so allowing those natural feelings of sadness, loneliness, anger, etc. to move through you is one key to that healing. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
Myth #5: Friends and family can help by not bringing up the subject of grief and loss
People who are grieving usually want and need to talk about their loss. Having close family and friends initiate the conversation can make it easier for people to talk about. In reality, many people in our culture grieve, but they do not mourn. Instead of being encouraged to express their grief outwardly, they are often greeted with messages such as “carry on,” “keep your chin up,” and “keep busy.” So, they end up grieving within themselves in isolation, instead of mourning outside of themselves in the presence and support of loving companions.