12 Weeks of Peace
Week 3: Myths about Grief
The people in your life who care about you undoubtedly just want to help you, but those who have never faced losing a loved one may not know the exact right thing to say. Sometimes people who have dealt with loss don’t understand that other people won’t feel or experience it the same way as them. Because of this, many widespread myths about grief persist. This week we will go into detail about the most dangerous ones, and you will be armed against false ideas and expectations with the truth. We have also included resources, hotlines, and support groups in case you find you require some additional support.
Day 15: Grief vs. Depression
Once you have accepted the reality of the loss, you will have to begin to deal with it. An extended period of mourning is also completely natural after losing someone important to you, but it is vital to understand the difference between grief and depression. Grief will manifest itself in many ways. Sadness, fatigue, loss of appetite and poor sleep, and feelings of anger and guilt are common experiences. However, when those emotions cross the line into feelings of worthlessness or emptiness, particularly exaggerated guilt or fatigue, extreme anger or fury, or suicidal thoughts, it is possible that you have become clinically depressed.
There is no reason to panic, but it is cause to reach out for help. In these instances, the worst thing you can do is isolate yourself. Contact a friend, family member, or therapist to help you through this difficult time. If you are initially uncomfortable doing so, consider these national hotlines to speak anonymously with someone who can help guide you in the right direction.
1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a lifeline that will connect you to a skilled and trained counselor. This line is available 24 hours a day, and is completely free and confidential.
1-800-233-HELP is another crisis hotline that services all of North America. It’s a free and confidential way to reach out to someone.
DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
MHA (Mental Health America)
I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action.
~ C.S. Lewis
Day 16: Ignore Expectations
Some people have never experienced a difficult loss and don’t understand what grief is like. For this reason, myths about grief tend to give people certain expectations about how you should and should not be feeling and behaving. Understand that these are FALSE, and no one has the right answer on how you should be feeling your grief.
Day 17: Myths About Grief: #1
Pain goes away quicker if you ignore it.
Suppressing your grief may seem like a painless solution, but it will only make things harder. The sooner you allow the grieving process to begin, the sooner you will learn how to cope with it.
Day 18: Myths About Grief: #2
You need to “be strong” in the face of your pain.
There is no wrong way to experience grief. If you need to weep in despair, scream in anger, or sit silently with a cup of tea and old photos, do that. Putting on a brave face “to protect” your family or friends does not help them. On the contrary, being honest about your feelings will encourage them to do the same, allowing you to go through the process together.
Day 19: Myths About Grief: #3
If you aren’t crying constantly, you must not be that sad.
Once again, because it bears repeating, there is no wrong way to experience grief. Crying is a common response to sadness, but by no means is it the only way. So long as you are not intentionally suppressing your emotions, plenty of people are very internal. And this is perfectly okay. Never allow people to minimize your grief or feelings of sorrow based on how sad they think you should outwardly appear.
Day 20: Myths About Grief: #4
Grief lasts X months/years, and then you’ll be over it.
Some people may need three months to start feeling better, others may need five years. Neither is wrong. Those who are further from the loss may think that once a certain amount of time passes, you should be “over it.” But this couldn’t be less true. There is no time frame for grieving. However long or short the period of time is, it is the amount of time YOU need. Don’t accidentally extend your process by suppressing your feelings or attempt to shorten it by thinking you’re better before you are.
Day 21: A Poem By J. Hendel
Don’t tell me that you understand
Don’t tell me that you know.
Don’t tell me that I will survive
How I will surely grow.
Don’t tell me this is just a test,
That I am truly blessed.
That I am chosen for this task
Apart from all the rest.
Don’t stand in pious judgement
Of the bonds I must unite.
Don’t tell me how to suffer,
And don’t tell me how to cry.
My life is filled with selfishness,
My pain is all I see.
But I need you, and I need your love…
Accept me in my ups and downs,
I need someone to share.
Just hold my hand and let me cry,
And say, “My friend, I care.”