Grief; Myths And Facts

Grief is our automatic response to loss. It is the suffering one feels when a loved one passes away. Grief is not a unitary entity. In fact, grief comprises a whole set of reactions that are usually transient. They include:

  • Physical reactions – sleeping difficulties, lethargy, headaches, unexplained pains and aches in the body

  • Cognitive reactions – indecisiveness, forgetfulness, thoughts of self harm or suicide

  • Emotional reactions – which will be discussed in the stages of grief section

  • Behavioural reactions – avoiding social contact, taking up new hobbies to distract oneself

  • Spiritual reactions – trying to find the reason for loss, essentially trying to answer the “why” questions

Remember that the experience of grief is highly individual; there’s no absolute right or wrong way to grieve. Your grief experience is dependent on multiple factors, and includes your personality type, your learned coping mechanisms, life experience, your faith and religiosity, and how important the lost person was to you.

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Because there are many misconceptions about grief, let’s bust some myths surrounding it:



Myth No. 1: The More You Ignore, The Faster The Pain Will Go

Fact: Like physical trauma, emotional trauma won’t go away by being ignored. If a person has high fever, we would expect that person to face the situation by getting help from a doctor. We wouldn’t expect him/her to ignore the fever and wait for it to go away. If you try to ignore your pain and prevent it from surfacing, it might come back later with a vengeance, a phenomenon called delayed grief. Face your grief right now, and actively engage with it, rather than trying to suppress it.

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Myth No. 2: “Be Strong” After A Loss And Don’t Let Emotions Weaken You

Fact: If you feel sad, anxious, afraid, or lonely, this is a normal reaction to loss. Crying never means you are weak. Feel and show your true feelings, so that others may help you. There is no shame in being vulnerable during this difficult time.

Myth No. 3: Not Crying Means You Don’t Feel Sorry For Your Loss

Fact: While crying is a normal and expected response to sadness, it isn’t the only one. Crying is not an essential part of the grieving process. Some cultures train people from an early age that crying is embarrassing and best avoided. Men are especially taught to not cry, and lend support to other family members. Some people naturally learn during childhood to not express their emotions with tears. Just because someone isn’t crying does not mean he/she isn’t grieving. He/she may have a different way of grieving from others, and that’s okay too.


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Myth No. 4: Men Grieve Lesser Than Women

Fact: As explained just now, people from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds grieve differently. Men and women are different, so they process grief differently. Men may, in fact, grieve more than women in some cases.

Myth No. 5: The Character Of Grief Remains The Same Irrespective Of The Person You Lose

Fact: This is the same as saying all potato chips bought from the market taste the same. The grief after losing a parent, a child, a spouse, a sibling, are all different. But this doesn’t make one death more important than the other. Each death is unique, and so is the grief experienced.

Myth No. 6: Grieving Doesn’t Last More Than A Year

Fact: Grief is not a Netflix subscription. Grief is complicated, and can last anywhere from less than a month, to more than a year, depending on the person. Putting a timeline on grief is highly insensitive, and must be discouraged. You must have the right to process grief at your own pace, even if it takes years.


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Myth No. 7: Forget About Your Loss To Move On With Life

Fact: Forgetting, and accepting your loss, are two completely different things. It is not only insensitive to completely forget about a person you have lost, it is also humanly impossible to do so. Accepting your loss, on the other hand, is the best thing you can do for yourself and the departed. You can move on with your life and cherish the memories of your time with the deceased person. These memories make us stronger, keep us grounded, and sometimes even teach us how to tackle life’s toughest challenges.

Myth No. 8: Once Resolved, Grief Will Vanish Forever

Fact: Grief doesn’t vanish, but it does change character with time. Grief tends to become less intense with time. However, you may have outbursts of grief throughout your life. Out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may grip you. This can be frightening and debilitating, but is normal and natural. Grief surges are usually triggered by external reminders, such as being in a place frequented by your lost loved one, or when he or she is being talked about by others.

Here is video on today's topic:

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