Learn these common misconceptions about grief and how to identify whether unresolved grief is affecting you, and find the support you need on your healing journey.
In many ways, navigating the complexities of grief is a lot like peeling back the layers of an onion. On the surface, you may “have it all together,” your demeanor may be cool, calm, and collected, but what’s going on underneath? Have you processed intense feelings around loss and pain – peeling back the layers of that onion – or have you just buried those emotions deep down, never to be brought up again so you can survive and carry on with life?
Maybe you suffer from bouts of erratic, emotional reactivity that seemingly come from out of nowhere after you believe you have healed from that traumatic event that rocked your world. Whether the life-changing event was last week or 20 years ago, you may be an unwitting sufferer of unresolved grief.
With so much misinformation around grief and loss, it’s time to dispel some common myths around grief that will help you identify where you are on your journey, and what you might need to propel you forward in your healing.
4 Myths About Grief
- Someone has to die in order for you to experience grief. Contrary to popular belief, grief is not something only experienced when a loved one dies. Grief is defined as “deep sorrow,” and while grief usually accompanies a death, death is not the only cause of deep sorrow. Death and loss go hand in hand, but a loss that causes grief does not have to be a result of death. People who suffer from grief might have endured being displaced from a natural disaster, a house fire, a divorce, or a traumatic car accident.
- The loss of a pet doesn’t count as grief since they weren’t human. Unfortunately, we live in a world where pet loss is met with denial and dismissiveness since the pet was not human. Many people are preferential to animals over people, making the grief from losing a pet even more excruciating.
- You found “closure” which means you are no longer experiencing grief. Maybe you lost a relative 10 years ago or have been divorced for some time. You checked all the boxes and did everything the experts say to do to move on with your life. You found “closure.” So much so that you hardly think of or mention the individual anymore. But the truth is, whether or not you truly found closure (since “closure” is often a term for masking unresolved grief), no amount of closure can exterminate grief from existing in your heart and soul. And while it’s noble to want to overcome the throes of grief and find a sense of normalcy again, finding closure does not mean you no longer experience or no longer will experience grief.
- You’re comfortable talking about your lost loved one which means you’re no longer experiencing grief. Maybe you have no qualms about sharing the happiest, funniest stories about the loved one you lost. Maybe holidays for you are a fond season of reflection and joy as you honor the memory of your loved one. Keeping your loved one’s memory alive is a beautiful thing, but being comfortable mentioning or talking about the individual – and having only positive emotions – does not mean you are no longer experiencing grief.
Do You Have Unresolved Grief?
As humans, we are incredibly diverse, eclectic, and resilient beings who handle seismic, life-altering events differently. Similarly, healing is not linear and the same event can affect even the closest of family members and friends differently. This means while one person is angry and isolates themselves while in the thick of pain over grief, another may seem joyful and never stop talking about how smart, fun, sweet, caring, and talented the person they’re grieving was (be it death, divorce, a breakup, incarceration, and more).
Do you have unresolved grief? If you’re asking yourself the question and the search engine gods placed you here, the answer is likely yes. The good news is, you’re in good company.
If you have been affected by unresolved grief and don’t know how to peel back the layers or where to go from here, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today for a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you.
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.