The 10 Biggest Myths of Grief
By Rev. John A. Walker, Magnolia Manor Vice President of Spiritual Care, Americus
The pandemic has caused us to grieve in isolation away from loved ones. People can’t be there to hold their loved one’s hand when they are dying. Memorial services are having to be held at a later date. The grief can be overwhelming. My prayer is that families can use these myths as a starting point to try to understand and cope with grief.
1. We “get over” grief.
Truth is, we do not. We absorb our loss and learn from it. We are changed forever after someone we have loved dies. Grief never truly ends, it changes us.
2. When a loved one dies, our relationship with that person ends.
It never ends. A new relationship begins with them. This relationship acknowledges the reality of death, but continues the bond of love. In order to establish this relationship, we must confront and withstand the pain of grief.
3. People who have the same loss will have the same grief.
Not so. Different relationships with that person will cause unique ways of grieving.
4. There is one right way to grieve.
No! Grief is not a problem to be solved or a disorder to be cured: It is a process to be lived. Some people are able to process grief quickly and are able to move on. Others need more time. Some need a long time.
5. Time heals all wounds.
Not at all. It’s what we do with the time that counts. Healing begins as we acknowledge our true feelings, whatever they are, and share our stories with at least one other person.
6. All losses are the same.
This is not possible. No two people are the same, so how can the loss be the same?
7. Feeling and expressing intense grief emotions are signs of weakness and losing control.
Not true. We experience grief in body, mind, heart and soul. Loss challenges us to weave the threads of pain into the unique tapestry of our life. As we weave, we learn what this loss means to us, and grief becomes different.
8. Once grief is resolved, it never comes up again.
It never truly ends. It changes. We learn how to manage it especially around holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. A current death experience will subconsciously cause us to grieve for past loved ones. This is known as the recycling of grief.
9. Everything about grief is negative and devastating.
Not necessarily. Laughter rises out of tragedy because you need it the most, and it rewards you for your courage. Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious because people laugh.
10. Religion and spiritual beliefs always bring comfort during times of loss.
It is perfectly normal to experience a spiritual crisis and to question our beliefs. A grieving person may find it hard to pray or go to church. Trust yourself and God enough to question your beliefs and struggle with your faith. Yelling and shaking your fist at God is another form of prayer. God understands what it is like to lose a loved one.