23 Myths About Grief

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Before I start my post, I would like to thank the person who sent us flowers on February 27 for Zackael’s birthday. The card said “Bonne fête Zackaël!”. However, the card didn’t have a name (who gave us the bouquet). So if it wasn’t supposed to be anonymous, please write us and say “It’s from me!”.

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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.

Picture source : Pixabay

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

Myth 1

Grief is bad and we shouldn’t talk about it.

Myth 2

The bereaved who shares emotions, images, thoughts or photos are “stuck” in their grief. This sharing slows down the mourning process.

Myth 3

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.

Myth 4

The bereaved person who shares their emotions or photos of their loved one only thinks about that.

Myth 5

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.

Myth 6

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.

Myth 7

A healthy-looking person who is functioning well and is back to work, feels good and is no longer grieving.

Myth 8

A bereaved person is surely well surrounded and supported.

Myth 9

I know how I would react if I was in mourning. I wouldn’t do what this bereaved person is doing.

Myth 10

It is best to avoid communicating with the bereaved after the loss, in order to give them time and space.

Myth 11

The goal of grief is to move on.

Myth 12

To feel better, the bereaved can simply think of their loved one or look at pictures of them.

Myth 13

Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and grief experts all have grief training and therefore understand what the bereaved is going through.

Myth 14

Another person who has experienced a similar loss can certainly help the bereaved.

Myth 15

Everything happens for a reason.

Myth 16

A bereaved who talks a lot about their grief should go to therapy.

Myth 17

Most people are empathetic and compassionate.

Myth 18

Going to therapy and participating in a bereaved support group always helps.

Myth 19

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.

Myth 20

Children are always very resilient.

Myth 21

Young children do not understand death well, it is better not to talk about it.

Myth 22

Following their loss, the bereaved should avoid asking for help from others; they must stay strong.

Myth 23

All bereaved people go through 5 stages of mourning (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Grieving has a linear trajectory.


POLL

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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14 thoughts on “23 Myths About Grief

  1. Hello Brigitte! I wanted to touch on the one I voted for: “Everything happens for a reason”. I did not vote for it because it shocked me; rather, I voted for it because it’s one I still struggle with, many years after our infertility and recurrent miscarriage journey is over. I could never understand the reasoning behind such a message. I’m sure people meant well, but it still rattles me to this day when I reflect on hearing this kind of messaging. I know it’s meant to be comforting, but when going through a heartbreaking loss, it’s very difficult to accept that the death of a loved one was “meant to be”. Maybe it’s just me that feels this way, but I’d be very interested in hearing your perspective. As always, much love to you, Carl, Maxandre and Adélie.

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks so much for bringing out your perspective. It has never been something that I would have said, but I know that many people say that. I’m sorry that you heard this when you were struggling with infertility. Overall, I find this “Everything happens for a reason” line kind of ignorant, in addition that it could be very disrespectful. Platitudes are often not very considerate and do not bring much comfort. They actually minimize the struggles we are facing. I’ve been reading a lot about empathy this past year (among many other subjects), and “Minimizers” are usually people that lack empathy. Instead of feeling empathy for us and listen, they downplay it or change the subject.

      Many things in life do not happen for a reason. There was no reason why Zackaël had to die, he was the most loving boy ever. There was no reason for you guys to go through all the infertility struggles. All that, when bad people get away with rape, murder, mental abuse, etc. I wish the world would be more fair, but it’s not. Thanks again for sharing with me, and feel free to comment anytime! Also, if you ever have a chance to share the article, I’m hoping to get more votes and we have a four-way tie!

  2. Wow, Brigitte! Thank you so much for sharing this information and bringing awareness to this important issue. It’s true that we don’t talk about it enough, yet so many people experience it and our lack of understanding can cause us to make things even harder for those who are already hurting. The example you shared of the judgmental comment on social media really illustrates that.

    The myth that stuck out to me the most was the one about psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers all having grief training. I guess I just assumed mental health experts would be qualified and knowledgeable on this subject, even if the public is not. It makes me really sad to think that even the experts may not get enough training in this area – that’s a big problem! Even though I still feel uncomfortable with the subject, I want to educate myself more about it so I can be more supportive and avoid causing harm to anyone in my life who is experiencing grief. I love the idea of embedding it in school curriculum. Looking forward to your future post about that!

    1. Thank you Paige for sharing your input. I appreciate what you said, because it is true that we would think they would know how to help us and/or react. However, it’s not always the case. I myself, had a terrible experience about that specific subject (with a trained professional). This is actually one of my “topic” that is on my list of future posts. Overall, it seems like “grief” is not the most “specialised” topic among most professionals, the ones who are specialised in grief seem scarce. I will definitely talk about that as well. Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. I am shocked and saddened by many of these comments. Nobody can tell anyone how or for how long to grieve. I remember when I lost my son Paul suddenly almost 5years ago I was shocked, saddened and hurt by a relatives comment that I should get hold of myself and not get too comfortable in my grief. It still hurts to this day. I grieve for my son every day and will do so until the day I die. I carry his picture with me and look at it often during the day as I say a prayer for his soul.. I tell him I love him and miss him. Nobody has the right to say how or for how long to grieve. It is a personal journey.

    1. thanks for sharing. These are inconsiderate comments that people shouldn’t make. These kinds of comments can’t bring any comfort or value whatsoever. Your way is the right way to grieve. Much love.

  4. Merci Brigitte d’adresser un sujet aussi complexe que la mort! Je suis d’accord avec toi pour dire que la majorité des gens ne savent pas trop comment réagir face à la mort et comment aider qq’un qui vit un deuil. À nous de les éduquer!

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