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July 4, 2023

9 Myths & Misunderstandings of Grief.

There are so many things grief hands to us.

We don’t always know how to process the effects it has on us.

I’m a member of several grief support groups, and the book I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye, written by Brooke Noel and Pamela D. Blair PhD, kept coming up in conversations, so much so that I decided I needed to read it.

I was intrigued by chapter four titled: Myths and Misunderstandings. As I read the myths, they resonated me. I have either felt this way or have had clients feel this way. This validated even more to me that we all grieve differently. I wanted to speak about a few of them.

Although the mind is brilliant, it can really mess with you. Spending too much time alone in thought can bring any of these myths to the surface. Try to have a positive thought process when talking with yourself.

Myth 1: If I keep busy, I can lessen or eliminate my grief.

I don’t know about you, but when someone passes, I get busy—cleaning, planning, cooking, and so on. I’m caught up in making sure everyone is okay and has what they need. Then later when I’m alone, I fall apart. Maybe subconsciously I feel as if I keep busy, it will lessen my grief.

Myth 2: I must be going crazy.

We feel numb, clouded in shock. We forget simple things like words in sentences. Our mind goes off into several directions. We can feel dizzy or sick to the stomach. We may even forget things like who we spoke to or who attended the viewing.

Myth 3: I can only grieve for a year because that’s long enough.

Grief has no timeline. It crosses every boundary we try to put in place. You are fine one minute and the next minute you are a wreck. I rationalize my grief by saying that Mom was in my life for 50 years, which means I can grieve her for 50 years. And people will say to us, we should be over this by now. Like, hello?! What!

Myth 4: If I get angry with God, then I am a bad person.

God has a bigger plan that we are not privy to. Things that are out of our control can anger us. Remember getting angry with your parents when you did not agree with a decision they made that affected you? They still loved you even though you were angry. You hopefully did not turn away from them because of the decision. You sought a deeper understanding. God knows our heart and understands our pain. Do not turn away from God, turn toward Him for a better understanding. Even if that means that you don’t understand. Trust the plan of God.

Myth 5: Alcohol and medications will relieve my sadness.

If it does, it is only for that moment in time. Nothing will relieve it more than walking through the pain and allowing yourself to feel the loss. Also, keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant. It may take you down a darker path.

Myth 6: My family is turning away from me.

I must have done something wrong. In a perfect world, death would bring family together, but sometimes it causes a void. Remember, we all grieve differently. Your family member may have a difficult time knowing what to say to you. They may want to make it better, but they have no clue how to do that. A traumatic loss causes anger. If you were closest to the one who passed, unfortunately, you may be the one who receives that anger. People are in your life for a reason, for a season or for life. Sometimes the loss of someone disconnects you with friends and family.

When my mom passed, everyone basically went away. She was the glue that kept us together. My sister and I had each other and our immediate family, but everyone else seemed to get on with their lives, which didn’t include us. I remember being told the family got together for a picnic last week, and I looked at my sister and said, “I guess we aren’t family anymore.” Although heartbreaking, the dynamics of my family changed.

Myth 7: If I grieve, I’ll forget them.

This is the one I hear the most. I’m afraid of forgetting them. Trust me, you will never forget them. Their memory is forever ingrained in your mind. It is in every fiber of your being. I heard a quote one time that went, “The best way to beat death is through life.” Your loved one would not want you to stop living and being because they are no longer here on this earth. Celebrate and honor them in your life every day.

Myth 8: Something’s wrong with me. I’m stuck in replay.

You will go over the days leading up to their passing; this is normal. You may think of things you wish you had done or said. My best advise to you is to stop beating yourself up. Continue to talk to them. They can hear you. Know that God’s plan is bigger than ours and things happened they way they were supposed to. We may not like it, but try not to regret things you did or didn’t do. Look at your life with them with happiness that they were in your life and that the memories you shared are yours and yours alone.

Myth 9: The final step of grief is acceptance.

In the grief stages, it is said that the final step is acceptance. But know that even if you have accepted it, the roller coaster continues to roll. It is not one and done when you come to accept the loss of your loved one. It may continue for weeks, months, and even years. Again, be gentle on yourself.

These are only a few of the myths and misunderstandings that were listed. I’m sure as your read through them, you could associate with one or more of these myths and misunderstandings. You are not alone in these thoughts and feelings. Grief is an uncontrollable emotion. The best thing you can do is to let it happen and try not to hold it in.

Healing will occur in your time, not based on any myths or anything anyone can tell you. If you are having a difficult time with grief, seek professional help. You are not alone and there are resources that can help.

~

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