Most of us over the course of our lifetime have heard at least one or more of the following statements after the loss of a loved one:
Time Heals All Wounds
Don’t Feel Bad
Replace The Loss
Society has perpetuated the use of these terms so much so that they have become part of our vernacular. If you think about it though, are these statements really true? In reality they should be classified as urban legends. Why urban legends? According to Merriam Webster an urban legend is “a story about an unusual event or occurrence that many people believe is true but that is not true.” This can be said about these 6 grief statements we have all heard. We have believed them to be true all these years but they are not.
Let’s walk through each of them in more detail:
Time Heals All Wounds – How many of you are still grieving after losing someone 5, 10 or 20 years ago? Does it hurt any less? Do you miss that person any less? Probably not. For some, the pain may get even worse. Time definitely does not heal our pain.
Grieve Alone – We have been taught that we are not to burden others with our grief. I felt that way after the suicides of my two friends. You don’t want to bother others with your sadness so you keep it to yourself. In some cases, you reach out to others but they don’t know what to do to help you. As a result you feel lost and alone so you isolate yourself as a way of handling the grief that others can’t. Grieving alone certainly doesn’t work.
Be Strong – If you are the oldest child a family you know this one well. If something happens you have to be the strong one for your younger siblings. You have to suck it up and not show your emotions. Heaven forbid the younger ones see you crying. What sort of message does that send? Maybe they will think you are weak instead of just plain sad. Trying to be strong just gives the wrong message that you are not trying to be human.
Don’t Feel Bad – How many of us have been told as a child not to cry when something bad happened? Rather than expressing our emotions we were told to hold it in. I think many of the generations before us were never allowed to show their feelings. Men joined the military and were told to check their emotions at the door. Some children have never ever seen their parents cry. No wonder they grow into adults who can’t deal with their own emotions.
Replace The Loss – I am pretty sure that most of my generation has heard after a relationship break-up “Don’t feel bad, there are plenty of fish in the sea”. Not sure if that was supposed to make us feel better but in actuality it made it worse. What it implies though is that we not wait and grieve over the loss of the relationship but to move on right away and replace the old one with a new one. That can’t be healthy. Maybe that is why so many people have a revolving door in relationships; maybe even two at one time in case one of them doesn’t work out. No wonder there are so many divorces these days.
Keep Busy – Speaking from experience I can say I became a workaholic just so I didn’t have to think after the suicides of my two friends. Keep busy. Keep working. Don’t think about it. It’s much easier than facing your grief. In reality, it’s worse because you don’t end up facing your grief at all.
So I say to these grief urban legends – go away. Go far, far away. This isn’t how we are supposed to grieve at all. We need to stop perpetuating these ideas with ourselves and with future generations and find healthier ways to grieve.
Below is The Grief Recovery Method® Video about “6 Dangerous Myths About Grief”: