Have you ever noticed in social media posts or when talking with friends and family a persistent theme that grief is a life-long condition that may change over time, but never ends? Based on all you’ve heard, seen and experienced over your lifetime, it sounds like it should be true, but is it?
If you have been reading my posts these past few months, you already know the answer to these questions. Grief is not a life-long condition. It can end, and it is never too soon (or too late) to begin your recovery.
Our culture perpetuates this myth by constantly emphasizing that being sad, angry, blaming others for our misfortunes or being locked in emotional turmoil of grief is valued more highly than being happy and feeling good about our lives and ourselves. Consider the bombardment of messages we get every day from TV, radio, music, movies and the news media that support this myth. It’s no wonder we become convinced and act accordingly.
The truth is grief is a normal response to loss of any kind. Grief is almost always about a broken heart and undelivered emotional communications that accrue in a relationship to a person or some thing we value over time. It also is about those things we wished we had said or done differently or more and about unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations. By taking care of unfinished business and completing these communications, grievers learn how to let go of the pain of their loss and move on to a happier life. That is grief recovery.
The idea that grief only changes comes from confusing grief with normal sad and happy memories. To be clear: Those who have recovered from grief may still have happy or sad memories from time to time and may still experience feelings associated with those memories, which is completely normal and to be expected. These memories and their associated feelings are not grief. This is an important distinction.
By making the choice to begin your recovery, you can free yourself from the myth that grief is life-long and all you can hope for is that it changes or mellows. Understanding what grief is, that grief recovery is possible, and that sad or happy memories and feelings are normal is a good first step. Another very helpful step is understanding that moving on is not disrespectful nor will letting go of the pain cause you to forget your loved one(s). Further, letting go of the pain helps us to forgive, which is a virtue that is not often valued in our culture, but is important for your recovery.
I encourage you to call me at 404-771-9335. I can help.
The Grief Recovery Method® provides a safe, confidential opportunity to gain a better understanding of grief and the myths and misinformation our society perpetuates about grief and the grieving process. This method teaches specific action steps you can take to say goodbye to the pain and heartache caused by loss. It also helps you to let go of negative feelings such as guilt, sadness, anger and contempt. By doing so, you will be able to move on and be happy once again. The Grief Recovery Method® is not therapy, but an educational program. It is available in an eight-week grief support group or a seven-week one-on-one format.
James, J. W. and Friedman, R. 2009. The Grief Recovery Handbook (20th Anniversary Expanded Edition). Collings Living, New York, NY.
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