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Earlier this week, I read a comment on social media which revealed some ignorance in regards to grief. I am not only blaming the person who wrote the insensitive comment, as they probably had good intentions for the griever who is someone they know. Addressed to a grieving person, the comment was something like : “You should stop reading such quotes, they don’t help.” However, the quote the bereaved had shared was in fact inspirational and contained a very positive message.
Death and Grief Education
These kinds of remarks can be hurtful. Along with other comments that I’ve seen in the past, they attest to the lack of education we have about grieving. Unfortunately, bereavement and death are subjects that are rarely talked about. Yet, they are part of the natural cycle of life, and most people will experience grief at some point in their life. Not only that, we are often surrounded by bereaved people, and should therefore be able to support them in their journey.
In 2018, the Australian Medical Association Queensland proposed to introduce the topic of Bereavement and Death Education into the school curriculum. This is a topic that I am planning to talk about in a future post, about why this this type of education would be a good thing.
With respect to the aforementioned comment, I feel that if the person who made the comment was educated about grief, they wouldn’t have written such a message. In fact, the person would have known that:
- Talking about our emotions and sharing thoughts help with mourning a loss
- No one is in the same position as the bereaved, and therefore not in a position to judge
- Each person grieves differently
The reality is that many people find it difficult to be around grief. In support groups, I often see the bereaved expressing disappointment at the level of support from their loved ones. Many of their relatives and friends avoid discussions about grief and the deceased, and some even keep their distance from the bereaved.
It’s sad, but true, that many people are uncomfortable with death, grief and emotion. Yet grief is a natural reaction to loss. It is certainly not the plague, nor a sign of weakness. Running away from mourning does not help ourselves or the bereaved in any way. We have to stop thinking that grief is bad. It is not because something is painful that we should avoid or ignore it, on the contrary.
Myths about Grief
There are several myths surrounding grief, too many to include them all in a list. In my opinion, here are the top 23 common myths about grief. Since this list is long and I plan to cover these topics in the near future, I would love to hear your thoughts :
- Which of the following myths surprise you the most?
- Are there one or two that you would like me to discuss in a future post?
Based on the results of the poll below, I will write a post about the myths you select. My post will incorporate facts (and maybe even study results), my experience, and what I have learned over the past 16 months.
23 Common Myths about Grief
Grief is bad and we shouldn’t talk about it.
The bereaved who shares emotions, images, thoughts or photos are “stuck” in their grief. This sharing slows down the mourning process.
The best way to grieve is to avoid thinking about it too much. The bereaved should get busy by doing other things, such as going back to work.
The bereaved person who shares their emotions or photos of their loved one only thinks about that.
The best thing to say to a bereaved person is something heartwarming, positive, or optimistic. We must encourage them to think positively and find solutions to make them happier.
The first year is the most difficult. Mourning improves day by day, as time heals all wounds. There’s no real need to invest the time and effort required to work through the mourning.
A healthy-looking person who is functioning well and is back to work, feels good and is no longer grieving.
A bereaved person is surely well surrounded and supported.
I know how I would react if I was in mourning. I wouldn’t do what this bereaved person is doing.
It is best to avoid communicating with the bereaved after the loss, in order to give them time and space.
The goal of grief is to move on.
To feel better, the bereaved can simply think of their loved one or look at pictures of them.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and grief experts all have grief training and therefore understand what the bereaved is going through.
Another person who has experienced a similar loss can certainly help the bereaved.
Everything happens for a reason.
A bereaved who talks a lot about their grief should go to therapy.
Most people are empathetic and compassionate.
Going to therapy and participating in a bereaved support group always helps.
It is preferable to avoid mentioning the name of the deceased because of the risk of upsetting the bereaved even more or the risk of bringing sadness to a present moment.
Children are always very resilient.
Young children do not understand death well, it is better not to talk about it.
Following their loss, the bereaved should avoid asking for help from others; they must stay strong.
All bereaved people go through 5 stages of mourning (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Grieving has a linear trajectory.
Please participate if you can! It’s not too late!
(participate to view results 😊)
That’s it for now. Thank you so much for participating in the poll and sharing your thoughts in the comments!
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