|Greenfield Terrace, Lampeter, Wales|
As the storm of grief descends, the senses are blurred to the danger that lies ahead. The elements bring with them, the potential for great harm – harm that can only be limited if one regains focus on the truth within the impending threat.
GRIEF: The Myths…
When faced with grief, we need to be prepared to understand that there are many obstacles that lie in our path. For us to truly find comfort within grievance, we need to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all theory, no magical words to wave away the pain, but a journey that is unique to each of us; a journey that necessitates an understanding of the myths and misconceptions that potentially harm us, within our grieving state.
Myth 1: Time Heals
Grief should last about a year. Don’t worry, give it time and you will move on!
Expect this to be one of those oft-repeated statements that people around us will say, in the hope that they bring comfort. But, instead, expect an intensified pain from this statement.
The common concept that time heals, is probably more reason for heartache than any other myth. When we take a step back and reassess the situation, would we honestly deal with any other human pain with ‘just give it time’?
In actual fact, time itself does not heal; it is what is done within this time that will complete the pain caused by loss. Many mothers have said that they have waited; allowing for time to pass them by, hoping that with it, they will somehow feel better again. The reality is very different, there is no defined time scale for the dulling of grief; each of us determines our own time scale.
Myth 2: Grieve Alone
Give her some space. He needs to be alone.
The natural instinct of those around us whilst we grieve, is to presume that we need to be alone, that isolating ourselves will aid the healing process. However, experts agree that the single most important factor in healing from a loss, is the support of other people. Even for those who are usually introverted individuals, it is vital that their pain is shared with their loved ones. So, though others around us wish to allow us space – seize the opportunity to embrace the company of others, to speak of the grief that grips our hearts and relive the memories of the loved ones that have been lost. This is taking small steps on our Journey of Grief.
Myth 3: Be Strong
It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss. You’re strong enough to handle it.
Those around us, in those initial moments of grief, will have an overwhelming desire to offer us comfort in any which way they can. Another commonly used phrase offered at times of condolence, is ‘be strong’ - a phrase that sounds good, but offers us no real hope.
Our natural desire as humans is to gain acceptance and to be seen to be meeting expectations – so, when those around us will for us to “be strong”, instinctively, we want to conform to this command. However, it may be that we feel sad, frightened or lonely, in response to our loss, and so, the opposing emotions cause a greater sense of pain and helplessness. As a result, we need to appreciate that strength is a characteristic that is unique to every individual; how we show it, is distinct to us.
It is also important to accept that crying is not a sign of weakness; again, this is a normal response to loss, and it is a natural aspect of grief. When grieving, we should allow ourselves permission to express our emotions openly, without there being a sense of shame, nor a need to protect others from the intensity of them.
Strength, in reality, is enduring the path of pain, each day, our way.
Myth 4: Replace the Loss
Loss in itself has such depths; when something is lost, by definition, it cannot merely be replaced – that object, person or function, holds within it an element that was unique to it, something once gone, is gone forever.
Do not be taken aback by the recurrent hopes of others, to urge us to fill the void that now exists in our lives – whether it is suggestions to “replace” the loss of a child by simply having another, or by embracing the fact that though a loss has been suffered, we still have many other blessings around us. These are all logical hopes, but they all dissipate, because all we see is the void that now exists within us.
Do not feel the need to fill that void; embrace it, acknowledge it, and in time, accept it.
Myth 5: Keep Busy
Once the early days of grief come to pass, and the company of our consolers starts to wear away, we are left alone, with the shadow that is grief. It is here, at this very moment, that the burden of grief bears far more heavily upon us, so there is a yearning to immerse ourselves in activity, in order to avoid the inevitable truth behind our pain. Everyone will urge us to keep busy, and so, we fall into a pattern of just ‘doing’, without realising that we are still hurting. It isn’t until that moment, when we stop, we find ourselves alone with that shadow of grief.
Though it is far easier to ignore our pain in the short-term, sadly, it will only prolong our suffering in the long-term. Let us go easy on ourselves and take each day as it comes, recognising that we are still hurting.
Myth 6: Don’t Feel Bad
If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it is by no means the only one. Some of us may cry, and some of us may not – those of us who don’t cry, still feel the pain just as deeply as others; we simply have other ways of showing it. By following the natural emotions that come from within us, we are able to endure a healthier healing process.
So What Can We Do?
In reality, we stand alone. We face the storm in whichever way our body, mind and soul will allow us. But, do not let the myths break us – we are stronger than the false ideals that society has conjured.
So, wrap up warm, we are about to embark upon our journey, facing the aftermath of the storm, coping with grief.
Source: Sisters Magazine