Grief and loss are things that not one of us can avoid.
But there can be a lot of misunderstanding around the subject.
What myths about grief and loss are best debunked?
1. Grief is for adults.
Not at all. It’s not even just for humans (elephants, for example, have very exact grief rituals).
Children can grieve as much as adults, even if they might seem not to. This can be because children hide their grief if they are worried about their parents or younger siblings.
Try to create space for your child to express him or herself, and try to understand that a child’s way of experiencing loss and grieving can be different.
Read our article on ‘Children and Mourning‘ for more information.
2. Grief only happens when we lose a loved one.
Grief from a bereavement is of course the most common sort.
But we can experience grief from other life experiences, too. This can be a breakup, losing a friend, losing a job we loved, or the end of a social event we relied on for years. It might even be losing a precious object that reminded us of someone or something important.
Read our article on “Losing Something Important” for more.
[Need help with grief and loss ASAP? For professional support from a qualified therapist, visit our sister site harleytherapy.com to book Skype and phone counselling easily and quickly, worldwide.]
3. Grief is just an emotional thing.
Grief can actually be quite physical. Many people find grieving leaves them exhausted.
It can also completely change your appetite and give you sleep problems. You might have unexplained aches and pains, and feel like you are catching every cold and flu that comes along.
4. Grief follows five stages.
The five stages to grief were proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross way back in the late sixties and have been popular (and expanded on) ever since. The original five stages she proposed are:
But these stages are just a guide. Grief is an individual experience, and there is simply no way it is going to follow a pre-set agenda. You might find you experience all of these stages, you might only experience one or two, you might do things in a completely different order, and you might experience emotional states that don’t seem to fit these stages at all.
5. It’s okay to grieve someone forever.
It’s definitely normal and okay to miss someone always.
But grieving and missing someone are not the same thing.
Grief that goes on for longer than several months and also causes real change in your personality or day-to-day life needs to be paid attention to.
If symptoms include things like social withdrawal, depression, rage, deep feelings of guilt, and marked changes to eating and sleeping patterns, then it might be time to seek help.
‘Complicated grief’ is a term used to describe grief that goes on for six months or more and seriously affects your ability to function. It requires different treatment than regular grief. Look out for things like self-destructive thoughts, an inability to think of anything but your loss, and a feeling that you can’t handle life without the other person because it no longer has meaning.
6. You have to feel grief when someone dies.
A large scale study of people who lost a partner found that not everyone experienced grief. There can, for example, be situations where the death of a partner is actually a relief and alleviates depression.
But if you find yourself feeling nothing directly after losing a loved one, do give it time. Sometimes grief can be so profound we block it out for some time.
And if your loss happened alongside trauma, the body’s response to the trauma can block mourning. This includes situations such as losing someone in a natural disaster, war, or crime attack.
7. Counselling can cure grief.
Nothing can ‘cure’ grief except going through it, in our own way, and in our own timing.
Instead of seeing grieving as something with an end that will ever be resolved see it more as a negotiation. How can you best negotiate a world without the person or important thing you have lost?
While it can’t stop the process, grief counselling can help us manage. And it might also shorten the time you feel grief as you will learn techniques to process your emotions instead of suppressing them. It also provides the support that makes the process of grieving less lonely and confusing.
And if your grief has become ‘complicated grief’, involving a lack of reality, destructive thoughts, and depression and anxiety, then a proper talk therapy treatment plan can be required to help you find your equilibrium again.
Need bereavement counselling in London? Book at one of of our many central London locations and you’ll be guaranteed a counsellor with a minimum of five years experience.
Not in London? For affordable counselling worldwide, visit our sister site harleytherapy.com to book therapy by Skype, phone or in person easily and quickly.
Still have a question about myths about grief and loss? Post in the comment box below.