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Patients & Families

Common Myths & Facts About Grief

MYTH: The pain of loss will go away faster if you ignore it.

Fact: Trying to ignore your pain will only make it worse in the long run. Finding safe and comfortable places and ways to express your feelings — with trusted friends or family, in a support group, with a counselor, through artistic expression — is an important part of taking care of yourself at this trying time. And sometimes you will need to do or think about other things. There is nothing wrong with this!

MYTH: It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, angry or lonely are some normal reactions to loss. Crying or voicing these feelings does not mean you are weak. It just means that you are sad, frightened, angry or lonely. In fact, being honest about what you are feeling often requires a lot of strength. Some of the people who are usually nearby to support you may not know what to do to help you right now, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. Talking about how you feel will help you and may help others find ways to help you, too.

MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t feeling sad enough about your loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to loss, but it is not the only one. There is no single right way to feel, and no single right way to express what you’re feeling. Depending on the circumstances of the death and your relationship with your loved one, you may feel many different feelings, like sadness, fear, anger, relief, and regret, and your feelings will evolve over time. Let yourself feel what you feel, and turn to those supports who can accept you as you are.

MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no roadmap or schedule for grief. It is different for each person and for each loss. The loss will be part of your life from now on. Your feelings about it will change over time, but this will not be a simple and orderly experience. Be patient with yourself, and don’t listen to those who try to tell you the “right way” to grieve.

MYTH: Moving on with your life means you’re forgetting the one you lost.
Fact: Many people think that “getting over” a loss depends on “letting go” of the person who died. However, you will find that going on with your life is about finding a new way to feel connected to the person who died. Moving ahead in your life does not mean that you have stopped loving that person. Feeling connected to your loved one is normal and healthy.

MYTH: Friends can help by not bringing up the subject.
Fact: Friends can help a griever by being with the griever where he or she is. People who are grieving often struggle to find people who are willing to listen to and talk about it. Asking open-ended questions and sharing your own memories of the person who died can let a griever know that you re a safe person to talk to about this huge life experience.



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