Fake News and Grief

I’ve been spending time on Quora in an effort to become known on yet another networking site. Quora is a question and answer site with a news feed similar to Facebook, but what appears on the feed are questions. It’s kind of a fun thing, and even makes me think. When I saw the question, “What do fake news and losing a loved one have in common?” I just passed it by. I mean, they don’t have anything in common, right? And yet, as I got to thinking about it, I realized that in both cases, people believe a lot of things that are not true, and they act on those false beliefs, creating heartache.

The complex and painful experience of grief for a life mate or child is not something we see on television shows, in movies, or read about in novels. Through thousands of movies and books, we are taught to be stoic, to hold back our tears, to be cool. Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven was the epitome of western cool, gliding across the film’s landscape without a single show of emotion.

Fictional folks shed a fictional tear or two, perhaps go on a fictional spree of vengeance, then continue with their fictional lives unchanged.

Because of this cultural conditioning (and because we quickly learn to hide our grief from view), people believe that grieving is a much faster process than it actually is, so just a few weeks after the funeral, the phone stops ringing, people we encounter no longer mention our loved one, and our family and friends start urging us to move on.

This can be disheartening, especially since this is when the awful realization starts to sink in that our loved one really is gone. Those closest to us go home to their husbands and wives and unchanged lives. We go into our sad and empty rooms, apartments, houses to be faced again—and again and again—with the knowledge that who we loved was gone, what we had was gone, what we needed was gone, what we hoped for was gone. All gone.

And we’re supposed to be okay with that.

I had lunch one day with some women friends, and one woman’s husband was off on a trip. The woman went on and on about how much she missed him, and the women were all sympathetic toward her. Yet when I mentioned that I missed my deceased life mate, there was a long moment of silence, and then one of the women told me I had to get over it and move on with my life.

She wasn’t an unsympathetic friend. She just based her advice on the “fake news” that it’s best to forget the dead and concentrate on living.
With news, it’s always good to check your sources and not assume what you hear (and believe) is is true. With grief, it’s always good to check your source (the griever herself) and not assume that what you have heard (and believe) is true.

Becoming a person who can live forever while missing that one special person takes a long time — years, even. Becoming a person who can live happily while missing that person takes even longer. But always, you miss them.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

10 Responses to “Fake News and Grief”

  1. Jean Says:

    You articulate exactly what I have experienced! Well said! 🥰🤭😳
    I just received your new book from Amazon. You help so many of us out here in the grief wilderness 🥰❤️

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, both for the compliment and for buying my book. This might not be the place to ask, but when you read it, will you leave a review on Amazon for me? The more reviews, the more Amazon will promote the book, and I would like the book to get into the hands of people who need it. Thanks!

  2. SheilaDeeth Says:

    So true… The more we get our news from those who know… the more we allow those who know to speak instead of silencing them… the more we, who haven’t yet been there, admit what we don’t know, then the more real news we’ll have from which to learn. Everyone should read your book.

  3. Constance Says:

    Yes, you will miss them and think about them. True, you must move on with your life, but they will always remain in your heart.

  4. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I never thought of grief and fake news like that. Thanks for putting them in a new light for me.

  5. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    I know your statement “people believe a lot of things that are not true, and they act on those false beliefs, creating heartache” is true. I try to live and communicate with others in a way which lets them know it. One thing I do is use the conjunction “AND” to describe the dual feelings of joy and sorrow I now fequently experience. For example, since my husband died I have been told by others “He is gone BUT you have grandchildren!” as if the children negate the loss! I reply “I do have grandchildren who I enjoy AND I miss my husband whom I also enjoyed.”

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      “But” is like “at least.” Both are condescending and dismissive. For example, “at least you have grandchildren.” I have learned never to say “at least” to people.
      There is no “at least.” There is what is, AND (as you say) also there is other thing that is.

      I’m glad you’ve reached a point of joy and sorrow rather than just . . . sorrow.

  6. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    I had a conversation with a close friend about your book. She asked me “who” you included as grievers and your working definition of loss….loss from death (spouse,child,parent ), divorce, illness..etc…I am giving her your book to know for herself. Her question made me want to ask you the following:
    How would you compare loss of a spouse to divorce? Obviously one circumstance is a choice and one is not except if you do not want the divorce.
    I know your busy so answer when you get the time. Thanks!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thanks for today’s blog topic! The answer was too involved to include here, so I posted it on the blog.

      My grief book is geared toward those who have lost a life mate to death because that is what I know. The concepts in the pertain to any sort of profound loss, however, and I’m sure sure people who are newly divorced can find comfort and understanding by reading the book as can anyone who has suffered a life-changing loss.

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