If you have not personally experienced grief before, you will at some point because loss is a painful part of this life. When you grieve someone or something it can impact every part of you. Grief can affect your physical health, behavior, spiritual beliefs, social life, emotions and your cognitive functioning. Depending on the significance of your loss; no part of you would remain untouched. This looks different for each of us and these factors Don’t have a specific duration or intensity.
If you are someone who has experienced grief before you might have heard or been told various misconceptions on what grief should look like for you. These myths might have left you feeling confused, misunderstood, and alone as you try to navigate through a significant loss in your life. This blog will go over various myths about grief that have been turned into facts over the years.
Myth #1: There is a Specific Sequence of Emotions for Grief
Most of you have probably heard of the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You might have been told that once you get through one phase you move to the next until you are “healed”. Unfortunately, the journey of grief is not that easy to define. We are all unique individuals and thus we will have our own unique journey through the pain of grief. Not everyone is going to experience all of these emotions as they are grieving, and some people may experience each of these more than once.
Everyone’s healing process looks different. For example, two siblings were grieving their mother’s death. One sibling over the span of three years, had waves of anger pop in and out of her life. The other one never experienced anger but spent the majority of the first year depressed. Neither of these individuals were grieving incorrectly. The important rule in grief is that you discover a personalized path to work through grief in a way that is healthy and right for you.
Myth #2: Grief has a Deadline
Warden’s Task of Mourning explains how there are no checkpoints to grief and that it is more of a fluctuating process. You learn to embrace a new lifestyle without the person, job, pet or whatever you have lost. Grief does not have a specific time where it will just stop. Instead, you learn how to cope, manage, and live with the loss you endured. Throughout your life grief will come and go, but it does not mean that you have not made progress towards healing.
There is a 23-year old woman that had her spouse suddenly die in a car accident. 5 years later she struggled with the guilt that came from still grieving his death. She had moved on and was now dating someone new, but never understood why she still had grieving periods. So how did she get help? She began identifying her triggers, finding ways to cope with those triggers, and being able to honor him in her new relationship helped her release the guilt she had been experiencing.
Myth #3: Grief is Harder on Women than Men
There are multiple stereotypes that come along with grief, one of them being that men do not experience grief the same way that women experience it. It is not surprising that this is a stereotype considering that we live in a society where if men are emotional it has traditionally been perceived as weakness.
No matter if you are a man,woman or identify as someone else, all of us need to accept permission to walk through grief in our own way. It is important that you see a grieving individual as a person and not as their gender. One way that one can be more empathetic to men that are grieving is becoming aware of our own personal biases and stereotypes. And if you are a man, giving yourself permission to be sad and to show emotion in ways that are healthy for you.
If you would like someone to help walk with you and guide you in your grief journey we are here. You do not have to walk this road alone. You can reach us at (405) 921-7776 or on the web at NewVisionCounseling.org. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Written by Darby Hargrove and Shawn Maguire, LPC. Shawn owns New Vision Counseling and Consulting and has trained a team of therapists who help their clients achieve life changing results. Because of their success in helping clients heal and come alive they are currently the top rated and reviewed counseling practice in Oklahoma.