Health & Wellness

3 Stubborn Grief Myths We Need To Stop Believing

By Kathryn Rosenberg | Jul 1, 2020
Kathryn Rosenberg | ACHNET

For the past eight years, death and dying have been my bread and butter.

It makes me a really popular guest at dinner parties.

“So, what do you do?”

“I work as an education facilitator at a hospice.”

“Oh. (long pause). That must be pretty depressing. Ah look, they’ve just brought out those mini cheddar cheese savoury scones I love! It was nice chatting with you.”

You get used to this. People’s discomfort around death. It’s much the same when people ask me the question I used to dread the most in this world.

“Do you have any siblings?”

“Yes, I have a sister but she died a few years ago.”

“Oh. (awkward pause). So, are you going away this summer? We’ve booked a villa in Spain. It’s got the most amazing pool that overlooks the ocean and with 12 of us going it’s an absolute bargain!”

Believe me, I get it. I don’t hold any bad feeling towards people that change the subject.

Talking about death, dying, grief, and loss isn’t easy.

Most of us were raised in a society that makes it hard, uncomfortable, and awkward to talk about these things.

But see here’s the thing. When we don’t talk about it, when it’s hidden behind hospital curtains, when it’s not out in the open, it’s left for us to fear.

It’s left for us to speculate. To construct our own stories around death and grief that may or may not be true.

Many stubborn grief myths are floating around in society.

  • These grief myths are unhelpful at best and damaging at worst.
  • They can leave us feeling isolated, misunderstood, and alone.
  • They can leave us feeling like we’re going crazy or that what we’re feeling is somehow abnormal.

These grief myths can leave us feeling like we’re wandering around in the dark with no hope of ever finding the light.

That’s not what I want for you.

What I want is for you to know that you’re not alone and that whatever you’re feeling is completely normal.

So I’m going to put the many scone stampedes and awkward silences to good use and share with you three of the most stubborn myths I’ve come across in my 15,000 odd hours working in this field.

If you’re ready to do this then let’s start by kicking grief myth number one into touch!

1) Grief Is Not Just About Death

When we think of the word ‘grief’, chances are the next word that springs to our mind is death, right?

The death of someone we loved or perhaps someone with whom we had a challenging relationship.

But grief applies to so much more than that.

Grief is a response to any loss deemed significant by you.

It might be the death of a loved one or pet but it might also relate to any number of other losses.

  • The loss of your job
  • The loss of your home
  • The loss of a social circle
  • The loss of a relationship
  • The loss of a dream
  • The loss of the life you had planned out for yourself

Throughout our lives, we grieve the many losses we experience.

What can make these losses even more painful is that our grief can often go unacknowledged by other people who may not deem what we are grieving to be something that warrants a grief response.

But here’s the thing:

  • You are not nuts if you grieve being made redundant.
  • You are not crazy if you grieve the breakdown of a friendship.
  • You are not losing your marbles if you grieve ending a relationship you know wasn’t right for you.

All of these things are a loss. All of these things symbolise a change in your life. All of these things require a process of transition and adjustment.

It is perfectly normal to grieve for something that you no longer have, regardless of whether or not that thing was right for you.

Don’t ever feel you need to minimize what you’re going through.

Give yourself the time and space you need to grieve and heal.

2) You Will Not Just ‘Get

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