Grief is one of the most off-limits, and misunderstood, topics in the world, which is odd seeing as every single person will experience grief during their lifetime. The information that people do have about grief is often wrong and even hurtful. It’s no one’s fault. Grief is simply not something people talk about. So let’s take a look at some basics about grief, and grief recovery, to ensure that the broken-hearted get the proper help when they need it.
1. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to significant emotional loss of any kind.
2. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of, or change in, a familiar pattern of behavior.
3. Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who has always been there, only to find when you need them again, they are no longer there.
4. Grief is not a pathologic condition or a personality disorder.
5. There are over 40 events that can cause grief including death, divorce, pet loss, bankruptcy and moving.
6. Recovery from loss is achieved by a series of small and correct choices made by the griever.
7. It is 100% possible to recover from loss. Research at Kent State proved that The Grief Recovery Method approach to helping grievers deal with the pain of emotional loss in any relationship is “Evidence Based” and effective.
8. There is no hierarchy of losses. When you compare one relationship to another, it robs dignity for the person who’s made to feel as if their loss isn’t as big.
9. There are no stages of Grief. In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote the book On Death and Dying in which she discussed emotions that a patient might feel upon finding out they have a terminal illness. The stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. The problem is that people have applied these arbitrary stages that a terminal patient might feel to something that all grievers do feel. And it’s simply not true. Some grievers cry, some don’t. Some grievers are angry, others are not. Grief is unique to each individual, so classifying stages can be harmful.
10. Although there are no stages of grief, there are common characteristics that grievers may experience like difficulty concentrating, a sense of numbness and changes in sleeping patterns.
11. Grief is often mislabeled as stress, PTSD and depression.
12. Unresolved grief is cumulative and cumulatively negative
13. Many people use Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviors to try to avoid their painful feelings. S.T.E.R.B.s include things like drinking, gambling or any other activity that distracts you from emotions.
14. Time does not heal all wounds. Actions do.
15. Keeping busy doesn’t heal a broken heart either. It merely serves as a distraction.
16. Grievers are not broken so do not need to be fixed.
17. It’s impossible to know how someone else feels. That’s because every relationship is unique. At best you know how you felt when you experienced your own loss.
18. It’s impossible to replace a loss. Whether you broke up with someone or your pet died, you can never replace a living being.
19. Suggesting someone should grieve alone implies that sad feelings should be hidden.
20. Suggesting a griever be strong for others implies they should hide their normal and natural feelings.
21. When supporting a griever, listen to them without analysis, criticism, judgement or interruptions.
22. Want to help a person with a broken heart? Ask them, “What happened?” then listen by staying in the moment and having empathy.