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Loss is a fact of life, and so are the reactions that follow, but the grief that accompanies significant loss is frequently misunderstood.
Here are some of the more commonly held myths and misconceptions about grief, along with the facts to dispel them:
When someone dies, grief is felt only by that person’s family members and friends. In reality, grief is felt by anyone with an emotional attachment to the deceased, whether we know the person well or not. As we saw with the recent deaths of Whitney Houston and Steve Jobs, we may mourn for public figures we like or respect and admire, even though we’ve never met them personally.
Grief is what we feel only when our loved one dies. Grief is a normal response to the experience of loss of any kind, including unusual and secondary losses. Such grief often goes unrecognized and unacknowledged. (Examples include disenfranchised losses such as loss of a cherished pet, and losses stemming from major life transitions such as graduation, moving, marriage or divorce, job loss, incarceration, disability or alteration in health status.)
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