Five Myths Of Grief That Lead To
By Lou LaGrand
Grief is a natural response to the loss of something
valued. Myths are falsehoods parading as gospel truths.
Combined they lead to much excessive emotional and
physical pain when mourning.
If you mourn according to myth it means you have adopted
false beliefs about grief and how to cope with the loss
of a loved one. The solution is clear: obtain
information to form beliefs that are true for you and
discard old beliefs that were handed down to you when
you were young.
There are many myths about grief. Here are five of the
most common and what you can do to reverse your thinking
and reduce the unnecessary suffering they often inflict.
1. There is an orderly stage like progression in the
grief process. In truth, this has yet to be decided by
researchers. Right now the best information says grief
is highly individual. It could take months or years
depending on the nature of the death and the degree of
emotional investment in the person who died. And grief
has many ups and downs and revisits.
Do not set limits or expectations. Allow your grief to
move through its natural responses according to you.
There is no right way to grieve.
2. You have to "let go" of the person who died. Letting
go of the deceased is often interpreted as having to
forget about the deceased and get on with life. In fact,
the relationship with the deceased never ends; it
changes. Establishing a new relationship with the
deceased through memory, celebration, new traditions,
and the intent to learn to love in separation is part of
adapting to loss.
3. The longer you mourn the more you show your love for
the deceased. Some individuals accept the loss of their
loved one and are able to begin reinvesting in their new
life without the physical presence of their loved one.
Others hesitate to fully embrace their new life because
they believe it will indicate a lack of true love for
the deceased. Consequently, they refuse invitations to
social gatherings or refrain from other pleasurable
pursuits. Remember that love never dies, and we honor
our deceased loved ones by continuing to grow into the
next chapter of our lives.
4. Time heals all wounds. Time does not heal all wounds
unless the mourner addresses the tasks of grief, starts
new routines, faces the pain, and establishes a new
relationship with the deceased loved one. Or as a dear
friend of mine put it, "Time doesn't heal all wounds,
unless you work between the minutes." Taking action to
heal is a choice and the best way to prevent generating
emotional poison through isolation and waiting to get
5. Mourning should end after the first anniversary of
the death. Those who hold on to this myth often lengthen
their grief work and/or inhibit the natural grief
responses that occur after one year. For many, the major
part of grief recedes after five or six months for
others it takes considerably longer. There is no
specific time limit applicable to all.
In summary, myths are beliefs we choose and in terms of
the grief process usually cause additional pain and
suffering. Make every effort to seek out those who are
knowledgeable about coping with loss and the changes it
imposes. Ask questions.
Be open to the new as well as an analysis of your
beliefs about grief and loss and how you adopted them.
Then find a grief companion who is a good listener, and
work toward intellectual and emotional acceptance of the
death of your loved one.
Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight
books, the most recent, Love Lives On: Learning from the
Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known
world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary
Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication
phenomena) and is one of the founders of Hospice of the
St. Lawrence Valley, Inc. His website is http://www.extraordinarygriefexperiences.com