Too much of the attempt in teaching grief and loss focuses on the intellect which is not damaged or broken. In our 35 years of helping grieving people and listening to the problems they confronted when looking for help, we uncovered five major pitfalls that stopped them from getting the effective help they sought. Each one on its own can deflect a broken-hearted griever away from the path to recovery.
The Five Problems you need to know about when teaching grief and loss:
1) Broken Hearts not Broken Heads: Grievers arrive needing help with their broken hearts but too often they’re guided to their intellects to try to understand their grief.
2) A Big Heart and Good Intentions Aren’t Enough: Helping others is a noble and worthwhile goal. But a good heart and a desire to help grievers is not enough. Grievers need to be helped with correct actions in a safe environment—in addition to the caring heart of the helper.
3) Talking About Grief Can Become a Sad Identity: When teaching grief and loss groups, some facilitators encourage grievers to repeat their grief stories. But talking about grief makes people good at talking about grief, which can become their identity. Fearful of the unknown, that identity makes grievers reluctant to take actions of recovery.
4) Recovery IS Possible: Many people aren’t aware that recovery from significant emotional loss is even possible. For many years, the concept of recovery from or completion of the pain and unfinished business caused by loss was not understood or taught. Grievers were trapped in the idea that they could never feel better.
5) It’s NEVER Too Soon to Recover: Grievers are sometimes told by those teaching grief and loss groups that they’re not “ready to do their grief work.” The fact is that access to our memories and feelings about our relationships with important people in our lives is never keener than in the weeks, and months immediately following the loss.
It’s true that everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. But that’s about grief and not about recovery. It’s also true that since each griever is unique, they don’t need to be taught how to grieve, but they need to learn about recovery.
Curing those pitfalls is easier than you might think. The key is to teach actions of recovery rather than teach grief and loss. If you have a genuine desire to help grieving people, find out more about becoming a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist by clicking here.