1. Grief and mourning are the same experience: false!
Grief is the thoughts and feelings that are experienced within oneself upon the death of someone loved: grief is the INTERNAL meaning we give to the experience of losing a loved one.
Mourning is the ACTION of expressing and sharing one’s grief outside of oneself. When you express your grief, you are mourning. The specific ways in which people express their mourning are influenced by customs of their culture, religion, background and value system.
2. There is a predictable and orderly stage like progression to the experience of mourning: false!
There is no prescription as to how one should grieve. Different people mourn in different ways. Expecting anything less would be to demonstrate a lack of respect for the uniqueness of that individual, and for their experience.
3. It is best to move away from grief instead of toward it: false!
Many people view grief as something to be overcome rather than experienced. In our society it is expected for the mourner to be strong, suffer in silence and refuse to allow tears. It is only through the process of moving towards pain that we move toward eventual healing.
4. Following the death of someone significant to you, the goal is to “get over” your grief: false!
You don’t get over your grief. Everyone is changed by the experience of grief. Slowly and over time, a person works to integrate the new reality of moving forward in life without the physical presence of the loved one who is now gone. Through reconciliation, there occurs a new found energy and confidence, an acknowledgement of the reality of the death, and the capacity to once again find pleasure in living.
5. Tears expressing grief are only a sign of weakness: false!
Crying is nature’s way of releasing internal tension in the body and allows one to communicate a need to be comforted. The expression of tears is not a sign of weakness. The capacity of the mourner to share tears is an indication of the willingness to do the “work of mourning”.
If you are in a state of grief, its ok to respect the emotions that come along with it such as anger, sadness or even a sense of relief or joy. They are just emotions and they will pass. Living life one day at a time, one hour at a time or sometimes one minute at a time is all one can do.
If you are a friend of someone who is grieving, the best thing you can do is allow them to experience their grief in their own individual manner, and not to push them to “get over it”. It will happen.
Slowly but surely.
If you’ve had a loved one pass away and need to talk to someone outside of your family and circle of friends, please call me to discuss whether you would benefit from counselling at this point in your life. I can be reached at (604) 889-3635.