In the previous article, 6 Myths Keeping You Stuck in Your Grief (part 1), we discussed how our emotional reactions depend on the unique relationship we had with the individual, or to the event, which caused our grief. Additionally, our grief is influenced by what we witnessed, heard, or experienced.
The 6 myths are universal. While most of us are familiar with them they have not been recognized as such. These myths do not appear in any particular order, some overlap, and each can be limiting in several ways. Without the proper tools to process our incomplete emotions the myths can allow us to remain present in our pain. Being aware of the 6 myths is a significant step to recovery.
The purpose of this article series is to identify these myths, explore their origin and how they perpetuate. Part 1 of this 3-part series discussed 2 of these 6 myths: “Don’t feel bad” and “Replace the loss”. In part 2 we discuss “Grieve alone” and “Time heals all wounds.”
It is normal and natural for humans to want to share good news. A promotion at work, a pregnancy, or a long-awaited vacation are a few examples of stories we want to share with others. To share bad or sad news is also a natural impulse. Sharing this news with a trusted friend is normal and natural. However, we quickly learn others don’t know how to create a safe place for us to share the ‘not-so-good’ news.
Grieving alone and isolating ourselves from family and friends is a learned behaviour. As children many of us were sent to our rooms if we were going to cry or threatened with a reason to cry if we did not stop.
Television shows, books, and movies consistently suggest when an individual has experienced a painful event the appropriate thing is to leave them alone with their pain.
Without having the tools to support our friend or relative, knowing how to help them process their emotions of grief, we tend to shy away and not engage in conversation. We choose to leave the griever alone with their thoughts rather than to acknowledge, and be a witness to, their pain.
As a griever, we may self-impose our isolation for fear of alienating friends and family when we believe others no longer are willing, or able, to hear about our sadness.
Time Heals All Wounds
When we first experience the event, we can have a feeling of numbness or our ability to focus may be impaired; we may experience changes in our appetite or sleep patterns; there can be waves of unanticipated emotions which catch us off guard. Eventually we adjust to our new way of being and we begin to function better. The initial symptoms of grief decrease as we regain our focus, our centre, and our eating and sleeping patterns return to a more familiar way of being.
The above changes create the illusion time has healed our wounds. The intensity of our initial upset has diminished, and we have begun to adapt to our new state of living – whether it be without the physical presence of a loved one, our lost job, the death of a pet, the new country we live in, etc. Adapting does not however mean we are emotionally complete with the things we wished had been different, better, or more.
It is important to remember time is a noun; it is not a verb. It is not the passage of time but rather the actions we take during each day which affect the quality of our lives.
Without action we continue to add bricks of grief to our emotional backpack, remaining unaware of how the extra weight is dragging us down. Without action our ability to manage our life, and what it continues to offer us, decreases.
Our emotions are real. Unresolved emotions, stored within our cells, can have a devastating effect on our health. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to a change in something that is familiar. What is not normal is how society makes us feel when we express these emotions or the myths we have embraced to mend ourselves.
When you allow yourself to grieve naturally, completing any unfinished business of the past, you create a solid foundation upon which to build your future.
Parker Palmer shares, “The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simple wants to be witnessed…exactly as it is.”
Watch for 6 Myths Keeping You Stuck in Your Grief (part 3) in an upcoming issue of a Beautiful Life.
Tammy Adams, Certified Coach Practitioner offering support, in-person or online, Canada-wide.
She is certified in The Grief Recovery Method®, Personality Dimensions™, Reiki, Access Bars®, and Mindfulness. To learn more about the services she offers, book a 20-minute free phone consult, or visit her service tab on her website at http://tadams.ca/