A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

On Grief and Grieving: How we learn to grieve alone (Grief Myths Part 3)

On Grief and Grieving: Today we’re going to address the third  grief myth, Grieve Alone. We’re sometimes tempted to rank the six myths in order of which is the most harmful. And if we did compare them, we might say that the false idea that we’re supposed to Grieve Alone is the most dangerous of all. But then we remember that we never compare losses—since all losses are perceived at 100%. So by the same token, we never compare the myths that limit us in dealing with our grief. All six of them can be limiting in a variety of ways. You can read part 1, and part 2 first if you would like to start from the beginning. Over time, we have identified six major myths that are so universal, that nearly everyone can relate to having absorbed them early in life, although they can’t always explain what they mean and whether or not they are true or helpful.

 The six myths are:

  • Don’t Feel Bad
  • Replace the Loss
  • Grieve Alone
  • Grief Just Takes Time
  • Be Strong and Be Strong for Others
  • Keep Busy

On Grief and Grieving - Grief Myth #3: Grieve Alone

We imagine you’d agree with us if we suggest that Grieving People Tend To Isolate.  While that is true, and isolation is a major problem for grieving people, it’s not a natural tendency, it’s a learned behavior. Let us explain by writing a phrase and leaving out the last word. Most of you reading this will automatically put in the last word.

 “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry _____.”

We know that before you got to the last word your mind had jumped ahead and added the word “alone.” In order to explain how false that idea is, we will ask you a question. “What’s the first thing you want to do when you get good news.” Nearly everyone’s answer is, “Share it with others.” In particular, you want to tell your spouse, or your parents, or your children; in other words, someone important to you. Whether you realize it or not, your natural impulse upon receiving sad or bad news is actually the same. You want to tell someone you trust. But after a lifetime of being told “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone”; and, “If you’re going to cry, go to your room”; or, “Don’t burden others with your feelings,” you begin to lose the normal impulse to talk about sad or painful things with people you trust.

Communicating sad and painful feelings

Isolation is not natural, it is learned, and it is dangerous. It’s helpful for you to start to shift what you believe about communicating your sad and painful thoughts and feelings in the same way you do your happy or positive ones. The antidote to isolation is participation. Start by having a little chat with a few of the important people in your life. Tell them that you’d like to change some of the guidelines and make it safe to talk openly about some of the sad or painful things you feel. What you say should be simple statements or comments about things that have affected you. Keep it short, just to get it out and be heard. As the listener, make an agreement not to analyze or judge. Just listen. We’re not suggesting that you recite a litany of painful feelings over and over. If you have have recurring feelings about the same things, you may need to get some help—either in the area of grief recovery, or other professional help. 

 

Click here to go to the next entry in this blog series: It Just Takes Time (Myth #4).

 

 

Comments

my daughter died by suicide on 9/30/11...i didn't just lose my whole family as they want to act as she never existed, i lost all of my friends as well...she did exist, she was an awesome soldier in the army..she was raped 3 times and chose to do what she did...i still feel guilty, she was my bestfriend..she told me all about her sorrow...the loss of my sons, my granddaughter is taking a toll on me...and yet, i kep finding new friends and your site that will help me...thank you!!!

Dear Suzie,


Thanks for your poignant note and the truth you tell.


The collateral tragedy of being taught to “grieve alone” is that it influences us all to isolate others by not mentioning the loss that is forefront in their hearts and minds. And it seems to us that other explanations notwithstanding, that is a part of what has happened to you.


What we love about your note is the “hope and courage” you express in your last sentence. Please get to work on the actions in “The Grief Recovery Handbook.” As you do, if you get stuck, please don’t hesitate to contact us for guidance.


From our hearts to yours,


Russell and John

My son also died by suicide as a result of bipolar disorder in Jan. 2012 and it is a very lonely way to grieve. It is referred to as complicated grief and I am working through it daily. Thank you for your program. I intend to come to a workshop this summer and become certified.

Dear Michelle,


Thanks for your note.


If you feel yourself isolating with your grief, please send me an email. At least you will be heard and hopefully, not feel so all alone.


We’re pleased that you’re going to attend one of our trainings.


From our hearts to yours,


Russell and John

My best friend and lover passed away a few weeks ago. I am alone in my grief and don't know how to handle it. I cannot talk to anyone as I relationship was a secret. I'm married and he came back into my life. We were childhood sweethearts. Our relationship was that of true soulmates. I need help.

I don't want to grieve by myself, but with the loss of my husband, and the poor behavior of his family coming out of the woodwork, then losing my business (we were partners), forcing me and my dogs to live in a hotel room (everything went to his son because he didn't have a will).


The way I was treated by the family was horrible (they even took took his body and had the funeral miles away from the church he wanted to have his services). The people I thought that would have my back through all of this...non-existent.


No calls, no check ups...nothing. And I was warned that this would happen - after everyone heard the news, it was old news - but still leaves me with a hole in my heart.

I don't trust anyone to talk to. It's as if isolation is my only alternative because I feel like a wounded animal, shivering in the corner.

Its been two years since my son passed away unexpectedly and tragically. June 3 was the 3 birthday without him. Since January 2015 ive removed myself from family memebers . And have shut down life. I have other children i feel as if im only living for them now. I feel so completely alone . Everyday constantly thinking if my son in every aspect. I fear im losing touch with reality,

Thank you for your comments and for sharing what you're going through. If you need help, you can find a local support group at https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support-groups. Also please feel free to e-mail us at [email protected] if you need any assistance. Thank you

I am alone through this grieving of my daughter whom I lost to stillbirth 6 months ago. I am so lost with my grief. Fearful to let go yet so sensitive at some points and so cold in others. My family and friends only can say so much. They go on with life and I begin to get angry cause the pain is there still.

Auryanna, we are so sorry for your loss! If you want someone to talk to about it or about your grief, please call us at 800-334-7606 or visit our support group page, where you can find Certified Grief Recovery Specialists in your area to talk to: https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support-groups

I lost my girlfriend 7 mo ago.. have struggled daily, ..we were together over 10 years, she was a consumed diabetic, with dialysis in her last 3 years.. she just gave up on life because her life had became 100 x pain. I wish I could flood all the memories out , because the good times will never be again. That would be figmantascious (I just made this word up) want tp remember her like a distant dream,

Hi Brent, we are so sorry for your loss. When memories of a loved one turn painful, you may be experiencing unresolved grief. Our Grief Recovery Method helps you so that you are able to have fond memories, not painful ones. You can find our Grief Recovery Handbook in your local library or bookstore, and it will help you to achieve that. You can also find help with one of our Certified Grief Recovery Specialists by searching for one in your area: https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support-groups. I hope that you are able to take these steps and regain happiness in your life.

I appreciate the author's intentions in encouraging the bereaved to socialize with others and share their feelings with those closest to them.


Nevertheless, the notion that "grieving alone is a myth" is based on the assumption that the bereaved have "important people" with whom they can share their pain. We should remember that some people like myself are indeed alone and suffer in silence. Calling grieving alone a myth is inaccurate at best and a little insulting at worst. The recommendation that the solitary confer with the important people in their lives is therefore not helpful. Instead, we should give them advice that helps them slowly build friendships or endure their agony alone, whichever they choose to do.

Kevin, I am very sorry for your loss and also that you do not have any important people in your life to talk to about your grief. We would encourage you to reach out to one of our Grief Specialists in your area who can be there for you to talk to and work through your grief. You can search for one here: https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support-groups. Good luck and I do hope that you are able to find someone to talk to.

"A wounded animal shivering in a corner". That's how I feel. I lost my baby girl five months ago on the 23rd. I am losing this fight. I am expected to keep pushing forward and any feelings I have aside from a little stalwart sadness are considered unnecessary at best, inconvenient and irresponsible at worst. Any behaviors I have that suggest I am anything other then ready to continue living life to the full are impermissible, even to the people I most counted on in the beginning. I want to go to sleep and stay asleep. I can't find any will to live through this.

Bethany, I am so very sorry for your loss. It is okay and perfectly normal to grieve the loss of your baby. I would encourage you to search for one of our Grief Recovery Specialists in your area who can help you to complete the loss of your baby and help you to begin to feel better. You can search for one by following this link: https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support-groups. I wish you luck and I do hope that you are able to connect with someone who can help.

Sometimes, there is simply no choice but to grieve alone.

I'm just looking for places to vent...
I've lost two husbands and I want to get through this but I'm just finding it tough
I've lost two husbands and I want to get through this but I'm just finding it tough
Julia - I cannot imagine what you are going through. I hop you will check to see if there is a Grief Recovery Specialist in your area. Copy and paste this link in your internet browser and see if there is one nearby: https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-support. If there is not one near you, please get a copy of "The Grief Recovery Handbook. Over the years I have read dozens of books on grief and loss. Most are the stories on one person's pain, but that certainly is not your pain. I have also found a number that try to give you intellectual reasons to feel bad. The problem is that grief is emotional, not intellectual or logical. It is your heart that is broken, not your head. This book and the Grief Recovery Method deal with grief as an emotion and take you on a very personal step by step journey to recovery. Our goal is for you to be able to enjoy your memories and be able to look forward to the future. My thoughts are with you!
Steve
Last month I lost my third adult child to cancer it has been brutal for both of us he suffered greatly I just want to be alone and silent
I too am alone in my grieving of my son Jacob who I lost in a horrible wreck. I live for my daughter, but lately we been butting heads about things and it didn't help at all that my husband of 28 and half years just up and left us for someone 18 years younger. I feel I have lots most of my friends because they just dont understand why I'm still so sad after two years, five months and 25 days that Jacob has been gone. Iost my dad two months after losing my son.
April - My heart f goes out to you and I cannot begin to imagine that level of loss!
Assumed I would find confirmation that wanting to be alone was "normal". Funny how I dont remember this pain after my mother`s death eight years ago and we were very close. Too busy helping my father and children cope I suppose. One year after my Dad`s death I want to hide in a cave for a week and cry. Not sure what to think other than it is normal. Guess I will hold on to that.
Kathy - I understand your wish to hide in that cave. Isolating from every one used to be the way that I dealt with my emotional pain. Since no one seemed to understand what I was going through, I found that safer and more comfortable that having to hear them tell me why I should not feel bad. The problem was that no matter how long I hid my tears, I never did move beyond that pain... I simply got used to living with it and I thought that would go on forever. Once I started using the tools that I learned through the Grief Recovery Method, I finally found something that both took away the overwhelming power of that pain, but also helped me to enjoy and share my memories without them leading to more tears. I never realized how much "unfinished business" I had in those lost relationships that had taken away my ability to feel joy. This approach to taking action did not involve years of therapy, but rather a couple of weeks, as I was emotionally able, to take the needed steps to figure out exactly those things I wished had been different, better or more in those relationships. I followed those steps and they worked. Since that time, I wave had the opportunity to work with others to take that same action to deal with the losses that likewise were causing them pain, and it worked for them as well. Rather than letting that pain control you, I encourage you to follow the steps outlined in "The Grief Recovery Handbook" as well. It can make a difference! Based on what you said about how you took care of everyone else after the death of your mother, you sound like a good person. It is now time that you took care of yourself! Please get a copy of the book, and/or check to see if there is a Grief Recovery Specialist in your area who will help you on this journey. Experience has taught me that it is never too late to do this work and take back personal control over one's own happiness! Steve

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