In part 1 of this 2-part series, we looked at 5 of the most common misconceptions about grief; things people say ad-lib that we have come to believe to be true. These false beliefs can often make us feel like we are doing it wrong when it comes to our grief, but each grief we experience is as unique as a snowflake. Your grief for a particular person or situation will be very different from someone else who is grieving that same loss, and you will likely never grieve two losses identically.

Before we dive in, take a deep breath, put your two hands over your heart and appreciate yourself for every step you have taken so far on this difficult journey, acknowledge that you are exploring new territory without any maps or signposts and that you are doing your best, whatever that means in this moment, and your bet changes from day to day, moment to moment.

Myth #6
You need to stop talking about it and move on

There are 2 fallacies here, first of all, you don´t move on, you don´t get over it. Grief is not a head cold, you don´t wake up one day and it is suddenly gone, you learn to live with it, to integrate it into your life. You will have longer periods of joy and happiness yes, but grief can and will knock you over at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. This does not mean you are flawed or damaged or broken. It means you have loved deeply and lost. Grief researchers call these moments grief bursts, some we can prepare for, like special occasions and important dates, but many will take us by surprise.

The second part of this is not talking about it doesn´t make the pain go away, in fact talking about your loss and more importantly the loved one can help ease the pain, your loved one´s presence has moved from the physical into memory but they are still here, ever present in your life. If talking about your love or your loss makes people uncomfortable remind them that this is your reality, not talking about it doesn´t make your pain go away. If that doesn´t work, seek out people who do understand, who have the capacity to hold space for your words and feelings. You deserve to be seen and heard.

Myth #7
You need a funeral in order to grieve

You absolutely do not need a funeral to grieve, grief is the response to loss and a funeral is an act of mourning. Yes, a funeral or ceremony of some kind is important to mourning in the sense that it takes us through the first task of grieving as described by both Worden and Wolfelt in their models of grief ; accept the reality of the loss. But not every loss is death and not everyone has religious inclinations, and unfortunately in today’s high-speed world even if there is a funeral it may not always be possible to be present. That said symbolic acts can be very beneficial to the mourning process if they feel right for you and these things can be done alone or with close friends or family, in private or more publicly if that´s what you are drawn to, and as with grief there is no limit or time frame when this can be done, trust yourself and trust the process.  Some ideas for marking the loss in a symbolic way include;
​-  lighting a candle
– creating a memory book or box
– making a donation to a charity
– creating a charity or event
– planting a tree or flower
– visiting a place that has special meaning
– carrying a momento
– naming a baby lost in pregnancy
– creating a piece of art
– creating your own ritual on important dates

Living in a secular world does not mean the end of ritual, it means we have the freedom to create a symbolic act that is personally meaningful for us.

Myth #8
Get out and get busy

While it is true that we need breaks from grief because of it’s exhausting and  all-consuming nature,  we must also allow our grief to surface so we can do the work of mourning. Grief demands your attention and repressing grief brings a whole new set of challenges, oftentimes more complicated than if we had allowed it in when it first appeared. So take breaks but also allow the expression of your grief to occur. Don´t be in a rush to get back to normal, the normal that you knew before your loss no longer exists in the same form and it takes time to develop a new normal. Give yourself time to adjust to your reality at the pace that is right for you. If you want to dive straight back into your work and other routines and that feels right then do that, but if it feels better to you to go gently and slowly then do that. Find the  balance between activity and rest, between pushing yourself a little and forcing it, it´s in those middle places that life’s sweet spot exists.

Myth #9
Grieve alone and in private

To grieve you need to slow down, turn inward and seek out and accept support. Society has us believe that we should suck it up, put on a brave face and carry on but what we need is to do the work of grief and allow that grief to move through us. There is no other time in our lives when our human need for connection is greater. Reach out, look for solace and support from those around you. Draw on the experiences of loved ones, friends and professionals, allow yourself to express all of your humanity in a supported environment. Don´t hide away in your time of sorrow. Not everyone can support the weight of anothers sadness, but many can, find them and be with them.
Alan D. Wolfelt said it best ” You must be interdependent and connected to the world around if you are to heal”

Myth #10
Grieving and mourning are the same thing

Grief refers to what we experience as a result of our loss, feelings of sadness, anger, rage, anxiety, bodily symptoms like sleep disturbances, digestive problems, heart palpitations, aches and pains and cognitive responses; difficulty concentrations, forgetfulness, confusion and invasive thoughts to name but a few. Mourning is the outward expression of your grief, crying, speaking about it, writing in your journal are all examples of mourning. We must mourn, this is how you move forward towards hope and healing and the possibility of new meaning in your life after a significant loss.
What grief myths hurt you the most in your time of despair? What helped you the most?  Share in the comments below so others can learn from your experience.

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