The Grief Reiki® Card Deck was my way of trying to pull together comforting thoughts and words for a griever in a non-traditional format. The approach is to Pick-A-Card that jumps out at you. Whatever number comes into your head first. Or just go with your gut. Now read the message corresponding to the card you picked.
I have found we usually get the message we need to hear most.
If you picked Card #1: Today’s message reminds you not to go through grief alone but to draw strength from your friends. Society has conditioned us to “Grieve Alone” when in reality this is the worst thing we could do. We have also been taught not to ask for help or family and friends will think we are weak. Again, this is furthest from the truth. Family and friends want to help us but we have to reach out and ask for that help. They cannot read our minds so if we wait for them to offer it may never happen. Ask for what you need. Don’t try and go through it alone.
If you picked Card #2: Today’s message is a reminder to REST when you are grieving. I know that sounds easier said than done. If you are like me when I was grieving, you can’t even sleep or think about sleeping right now. But resting doesn’t mean you have to sleep for long periods of time. Sometimes just taking a 5-10 minute cat nap can leave you refreshed. It is so important that you try to do this since it is common to be more prone to accidents and injuries when we are grieving. This is because our minds, bodies and spirits are on an emotional roller coaster. Make the time to rest when you can. It’s especially important right now.
If you picked Card #3: Today’s message is a reminder that it is perfectly normal to feel extreme sadness when you are grieving. Since Society seems to have put a time-constraint on how “long” we should grieve, we often feel pressure to not be sad. We force that sadness down until we feel like exploding. Most places of employment don’t help either by only giving us 3-5 days bereavement time. How could anyone “feel better” after such a short period of time? Expressing your sadness is normal part of being human. Don’t plaster that fake smile on your face or say you are “doing fine” when you aren’t. This card reminds you to share your sadness. It will help you move through your grief. It will also help those around know that expressing sadness is a normal and natural reaction to loss.
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”: