Simply defined, grief is the normal and natural reaction to significant emotional loss of any kind. While we never compare losses any list would include death and divorce as obvious painful losses. Our list also includes many others; retirement, moving, pet loss, financial and health issues, among them.
The range of emotions associated with grief is as varied as there are people and personalities. There is no list of feelings that would adequately describe one person’s emotions, much less an entire society.
Grief is individual and unique. As every relationship is unique, so are the feelings and through each person will have about the relationship that has been altered by death, divorce, or for other reasons.
While grief is normal and natural, most of the information passed on within our society about dealing with grief is not normal, natural, or helpful. Grief is the emotional response to loss, but most of the information we have learned about dealing with loss is intellectual.
The majority of incorrect ideas about dealing with loss can be summed up in six myths which are so common that nearly everyone recognises them. Most people have never questioned whether or not they are valid. The misinformation is best described in the following:
- Time heals all wounds
- Grieve alone
- Be strong
- Don’t feel bad
- Replace the loss
- Keep busy
Just looking at the myth that “time heals” creates the idea that a personal just has to wait and they will feel better. We have known people who had waited 10, 20, 30 and 40 years, and still didn’t feel better. And, we know that they would tell you that not only had time not healed them, but that it had compounded the pain. The other five myths carry equally unhelpful messages.
Recovery from loss is accomplished by discovering and completing all of the undelivered communications that accrue in relationships. We are all advised to “Let Go,” and “Move on,” after losses of all kinds. Most of us would do that if we knew how.
Completion of pain caused by loss is what allows us to let go and move on. It is almost impossible to move on without first taking a series of actions that lead to completion.
Before taking the actions to complete, it is important to look at and often dismiss some of the ideas or myths that we have tried to use with loss, but are not working.