Myths About Grief

Look at the statements below and decide how many of them you believe.

  • It takes two months to get over your grief.
  • All bereaved people grieve in the same way.
  • Grief always declines over time in a steadily decreasing fashion.
  • When grief is resolved, it never comes up again.
  • Family members will always help grievers.
  • Children grieve like adults.
  • Feeling sorry for yourself is not allowable
  • It is better to put painful things out of your mind.
  • You should not think about your deceased loved one at the holidays because it will only make you too sad.
  • Bereaved individuals only need to express their feelings and they will resolve their grief.
  • Expressing feelings that are intense is the same as losing control.
  • There is no treason to be angyr with people who tried to do their best for your deceased loved one.
  • Only sick individuals have physical problems in grief.
  • Because you feel crazy, you are going crazy.
  • You should feel only sadness that your loved one has died.
  • Infant death shouldn’t be too difficult to resolve because you didn’t know the child that well.
  • Children need to be protected from grief and death.
  • Rituals and funerals are unimportant in helping us deal with life and death in contemporary America.
  • Being upset and grieving means that you do not believe in God or trust your religion.
  • You and your family will be the same after the death as before your loved one died.
  • You will have no relationship with your loved one after the death.
  • The intensity and length of your grief are testimony to your love for the deceased.
  • There is something wrong if you do not always feel close to your other family members, since you should be happy that they are still alive.
  • There is something wrong with you if you think that part of you has died with your loved one.
  • If someone has lost a spouse, he or she knows what it is like to lose a child.
  • When In doubt about what to say to a bereaved person, offer a cliché.
  • It is better to tell bereaved people to “Be brave” and “Keep a stiff upper lip” because then they will not have to experience as much pain.
  • When you grieve the death of a loved one, you only griever for the loss of that person and nothing else.
  • Grief will affect you psychologically, but in no other way.
  • If you are a widow, you should grieve like other widows.
  • Losing someone to sudden death is the same as losing someone to an anticipated death.
  • You will not be affected much if your parent dies when you are an adult.
  • Parents usually divorce after a child dies.
  • It is not important for you to have social support in you grief.
  • Once your loved one has died, it is better not to focus on him or her, but to put him or her in the past and just go on with your life.
  • You can find ways to avoid the pain of your grief and still resolve it successfully.

How many of these statements do you believe? Each one of them is a myth. None of them is true. Yet, if you believe that they are true you will expect yourself to act and feel accordingly. If you think that you are wroing, for example, because you are angry at your loss or because you are sad during the holidays, you will just be putting an additional burden on yourself. These feelings are normal. There is nothering wrong with you.

Adapted from Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies, NY: Bantam Books, 1988