Myths About Grief

Grief broken heart

This content was written by our sponsor Brenda J. DeMotte.

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.  -Old Chinese Proverb

As you make your way through the chaos of grief, it can be helpful to recognize common misconceptions about grief. Your own lived experience will teach you more than anything you have heard about what grief is supposed to look like or feel and how long it is supposed to last. If you can bring a questioning mind to all you hear about grief, you may more easily surrender to its turbulence.

For instance, here are a few of the more common myths: Grief follows and orderly path. Grief is a smooth progression upward, back to normal. Grief ends. You will get over your loss. Time will heal. All loss brings sadness. If you avoid direct experience of the death, your grief will be less. If you saw the loss coming, your grief will be shorter and easier.

It can be helpful to recognize the many myths about grief for what they are: culturally convenient ways to create distance from the unruly nature of grief and loss. So many factors alter, intensify or mitigate an experience of loss. Because loss and grief are so difficult, new theories constantly pop up, aimed at fixing difficulties. Maybe if you scoff at your emotions, they’ll disappear. Maybe if you eat seaweed or chew gum, the grief will go away. But I don’t think so. And although it may be impossible to see any good in the pain you are undergoing, you may be surprised at what you learn and what you gain as you move along through your unavoidable loss.

Loss is painful and grief work is hard. Redefining your own identity, discovering a new normal and recreating a sense of purpose and meaning bring enormous physical, social, emotional and spiritual challenges. Having accurate information to work with makes this work a bit less confusing. I invite you to become vigilant to the myths of grief and bring your questioning mind to their message.

Read more about the myths of grief in Brenda’s book “Grief Demystified, A Companion Through Change”, available at: and at Brenda’s website

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