Misconceptions About Grief

I attended the grief support group today, my sixth time for that particular group, but I’ll need to find another group when I get relocated. It’s good to be able to talk about my grief and my lost mate without fear of boring people. And I am beginning to fear that very thing. It seems as if I’m standing in place while the rest of the world moves on, which adds to my feeling of isolation. I had no problem talking or blogging about my grief at the beginning — it was new to me and to those I encountered. But now that I know I could still be dealing with these same feelings long after everyone else has forgotten — it could be a year, perhaps even two (and sometimes, or so I’ve heard, the second year is worse than the first as the reality settles into one’s soul) — I’ve been hesitant to mention my bereftness lest I incur impatience in others. Or even worse, lest I seem as if I’m milking my personal tragedy for attention.

I asked the group today how they handled the situation (the others were almost two years into their bereavement), and they said they stopped talking about their loss except to the group. To everyone else they’d use phrases such as “I’m coping,” or “I’m doing okay all things considered.” When I asked if I should hide my grief, the counselor said no — too many people hide their grief, and it’s important to let others know what grief is, how it affects a person and her life.

So here, on my blog, I’m going to continue talking about the experience, continue to share what I learn. Grief is so not what I thought it was. I assumed from what I’d read and seen that the bereft felt sad and lonely, perhaps empty and lost. It is that and so much more. It affects us physically, spiritually, mentally. It creates a void in the body that disease, accidents, and violence hasten to fill. (The death rate for a person grieving her mate increases by 27%.) It affects our self esteem and our sense of place in the universe. It makes us question our values and the meaning of our lives. It changes us forever, and we need a long time to intergrate the loss and pain into our personal identity.

There are many misconceptions about grief such as:

  • All losses are the same
  • All bereaved people grieve in the same way
  • It takes two weeks to three months to get over your grief
  • When grief is resolved, it never comes up again
  • It is better to put painful thoughts out of your mind
  • Anger should not be part of your grief
  • You will have no relationship with your loved one after death
  • It is best to put the memories of your loved one in the past and go one with your life
  • It is best to get involved and stay busy so there is no space to feel pain
  • Crying doesn’t solve anything

I’m not sure about the last miconception. Crying doesn’t seem to solve anything, but it does have a place. Without tears and yes, I admit it, screams, the pain has no place to go but deeper inside. I’m also not sure about having a relationship with my loved one after his death, but I like the idea. I just don’t know how to do it. I’ll let you know when I figure it out. Or you can let me know. I need all the help I can get.