Tuesday, July 03, 2012

10 Myths About Grief and Loss

10 Myths about Grieving
Myth 1 “Get over it” as quickly as possible
“You should be done grieving within a few months to a year and an half.”  If you have been told this, you have been set up to be frustrated.  It’s like telling someone not to miss their loved one anymore. 
Myth 2 Sadness for a few months after a death is okay but beyond that…
Are you crying again? Why are you so irritable?  You’re not over it yet?  There is no reason to feel guilty?  What is wrong with you today?  These may be questions from people who don’t understand that any feeling is okay as long as it doesn’t consume you.  There is no wrong or right way to grieve.  

Myth 3 There are predictable stages you will go through after a loss
In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler Ross developed the stages of grief.  I believe this came about as a result of people wanting to know what was ahead after a loss.  Similar to when we have surgery, we want to know how long our recovery will be.  This is a dangerous mind set when it comes to loss.  Everyone is different and we can’t put feelings or thoughts into averages and find a middle feeling or thought that everyone should have.

Myth 4 If you don’t talk about your feelings there will be negative consequences
Some may feel the loss very deeply others may not.  Some people need to express their feelings and run the risk if they don’t, they will end up with physical and emotional problems.  We are not sure yet why unexpressed feelings can cause problems for some and not for others.

Myth 5 If you have feelings of grief years later there is something wrong with
It is ironic that we accept the grieving that takes place every year on 9/11, but if someone else is having a hard time with a loss, years later, then society tells them to move on or there is something wrong with them.

Myth 6 If someone is smiling and happy it means they are “over it”
Just below the surface there still may be pain.  For many the pain seemingly comes out of nowhere.  There can be certain smells, thoughts, places, people that trigger very intense emotional pain.

Myth 7 There are predictable coping skills that are a for sure bet
What helps one person may not help another.  Experiment with what works for you and write down your what seems to help.

Myth 8 All losses create similar grief reactions
The loss of my wife was very different than the loss of my child. Suicide, accidents, natural disasters, death of a friend, co-worker can produce very different grief responses from person to person.

Myth 9  If you talk to someone about their loved one who has passed and they start to cry it means you have made them feel worse and ruined their day

I still love it when people share memories with me of Emmalee, my daughter, or tell me that they were remembering her.  I cried during some of these interactions, but it did not mean I didn’t want to hear what they had to say or that it made me depressed.

Myth 10 If I grieve properly I won’t miss them any longer
Missing someone you lost is just part of death and may still exist the rest of your life.  Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, certain music, the anniversary of their death, certain objects and even certain food are among a few of the things that might cause you to miss them.  This type of reaction does not mean there is something wrong with you.

Steve Havertz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in the field for 21 years.  He has experienced the loss of his wife and daughter.  He is the author of Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee, an inspirational speaker, and helps individuals and groups work through their own grief.


GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

Six weeks ago my beautiful 23 year old son died suddenly. I have been reeling in shock and pain. I've been searching online for words from other parents that might help me and I just found your blog. So sorry about Emmalee.
I have added your blog to a webpage that I've assembled to put all my online reading onto one page.
Perhaps you'll find some helpful thoughts there. Please feel free to share with others.

Steve said...

I am so sorry for your loss as well. The pain of loss ebbs and flows. Learning to live with this is the challenge. You may find some comfort from Emmalee's book "Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee" I have looked at your page and it is impressive!

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

My only purpose in putting the page together was to be able to learn from other parents. Unfortunately, there seem to be so many suffering families that have lost children. I keep finding more and more blogs. The site is now 5 pages long and has been viewed more than 1000 times.

I will read Emmalee's book.
Thank you.