Five myths about grief
Grieving the loss of someone close is a private experience which is largely determined by our relationship with them and the circumstances of their death. That close association combined with the lack of knowledge can often be the reasons why there are so many myths about the grieving process.
Here are five of the most common myths and misconceptions about grief:
1. Women suffer worse than men
Grief is not influenced by gender but by a variety of factors including the relationship with the deceased, the circumstances of their death and our ability to cope. Women may be more open about their feelings and emotions than men but that’s not an indication of grief’s effect on us.
2. The stages of grief are linear and they are the same for everyone
Grief does not determine the sequence in which bereaved people experience the various stages of grief and loss. It’s quite common for people to cycle through these different emotions and feelings and sometimes - to miss a stage altogether.
3. Grief is a sign of weakness
Grief is our reaction to loss. It’s not an indication of strength or weakness. The crying that’s often associated with it is not a weakness either. So called “emotional tears” contain stress hormones and other toxins which are extracted from the body through crying. That’s why it's so important to cry when you feel like it.
4. Time is a great healer
The passage of time does not dissipate the strength of grief. It allows us to process and adapt to our loss which leads to better understanding and coping with it. With time, we learn the different effects of grief, its signs and triggers. It enables us to develop coping mechanisms and the ability to live with our loss.
5. There are right and wrong ways to grieve
We experience grief in different ways but we assume that it has the same effect on everyone. In reality, no grief is the same. It’s as diverse as we all are and that’s why there are quite a few different models of grief. They give you a good idea of what to expect after the loss of a loved one but they can’t predict its effect on you. Remember that next time someone tries to define your grief or tell you that “you will be over it in six months”.
Please read our guide on coping with grief and loss for more information.
We offer grief help and support through the National Bereavement Service's (NBS) webchat. It is a free online service which connects you to a trained advisor.
NBS has a wide network of contacts within organisations providing support to bereaved people. They will explain your choices and help you decided what would be most helpful for you and how to make contact with them.
The service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm and you can reach NBS by clicking on the chat box at the bottom of this page.
Contributed by Mark Welkin
Mark Welkin is the author of three grief books and a journalist who has worked for various media outlets in Europe and Asia. He lost his long-term partner in 2014 and a few months later, Mark turned to a grief counsellor for help. The results inspired him to share his experience and help other bereaved people to resume life after the loss of their loved ones.