Have you ever wanted to talk about what you were feeling but stopped because of the advice you got when you tried? Feel free to ignore it. Even though most people don’t know much about grief, most feel that they have to “say something.”
It’s easy to feel trapped by bad advice on grieving.
No one gives bad advice on purpose. Bad advice gets passed down through generations.
As children we watch our parents and without even realizing it, we learn to live by a set of rules that might never even be spoken. The rules are just there, like something in the air.
“Don’t feel Bad”
“Give it Time” “Time heals”
“Replace the Loss”
These six myths effect our ability to heal by keeping us quiet about our hurts.
If you doubt that these apply to you, consider what you do when you’re sad, upset or scared. Are you honest with yourself and others about feeling unsettled? Or do you go “looking for the bright side”? Most folks do everything they can to avoid feeling upset but admitting only your happy feelings is as dangerous as admiring the shingles on your roof, while ignoring all the ones that blew off in a windstorm. You’re setting yourself up for trouble down the road.
“If you’re going to be that way, go to your room” taught many of us to Grieve Alone. It implied that we could only share our happy emotions and trained us to be cautious and secretive with any feelings that were less than pretty. This myth circles around to Don’t Feel Bad and leads directly to Be Strong, both of which have unhealthy consequences of their own.
No one gives bad advice on purpose. Yet almost everyone has heard, one or more of these myths and almost anyone will tell you what they’ve heard, if they think it might help. That’s what keeps these myths in circulation.
“Keep Busy” Have you heard that one? Staying busy doesn’t heal your grief, it just distracts you for a moment. As long as you can stay busy, you may be able to outrun your feelings but once you’re finally too exhausted to run, you’ll also be too exhausted to deal well with the grief that has been waiting for you.
“Give it Time” is a myth with crumbs of truth that help it persist. Everything takes time but time alone doesn’t do anything except age us. Time and correct actions are what is required to heal any broken thing, including a heart.
Have you ever jumped into a new relationship, a new job or adopted a new puppy because the old one was gone? “Plenty of Fish in the Sea” is a common phrase that grievers hear. Like “Keep Busy” it slaps a patch over a problem and muddies the water,
What if, instead of doing what you’ve always done… you tried something new?
What if it worked?
Written by Catherine Mitchell, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.