We hold so many misconceptions about grief, what grief is, and the grieving process.
Encounters with loss and grief are happening all around us. Yet, we don’t talk about it. We avoid these topics, and our society is highly grief illiterate. We have been tossed around all kinds of misinformation when it comes to grief and talking about death is often considered taboo, so we avoid the topic at all costs. Exploring loss and heartache feels too heavy to face, so we turn away. Being with others in their pain, without pushing them towards feeling better feels like too big of a burden to bear and brings up our own fears, so we don't ask.
Instead we are met with platitudes, silver linings and forced positivity - which doesn't feel good. Yet, we continue to uphold myths about grief, we walk around without knowing how to talk about the pain and the heartache were feeling, resulting in further isolation and loneliness.
Grief is not a “sexy” topic (yes, people actually say this), so we shut it down as fast as possible. But not here - in my spaces we open up the conversation about the things that are otherwise difficult to speak about and were about to bust some grief myths today.
Let’s break down some of the barriers to understanding grief and loss, and create a more grief literate and grief honouring world.
01. GRIEF ONLY SHOWS UP BECAUSE OF DEATH
Grief is actually the reaction to loss of anyone or anything thing that is important or significant to us, it includes but is not limited to death.
Grief shows up in many ways throughout our lifetimes. It is the longing for something that has changed, shifted, transitioned, or is no longer. We grieve during big life moments, transitions, moving out, selling our home, changing jobs, having babies, as we step into new versions of ourselves, and as we close one door and open another, plus so so much more. See a list of over 40 different types of losses here.
02. GRIEF IS THE SAME FOR EVERYONE
Grief is actually highly individual, and the ways in which we grieve are based on many individual factors - including our personality, our relationship who or what we have lost, our past experiences with loss, as well as our societal and cultural beliefs/ideas about grief. Grief is most definitely not the same for everyone.
03. GRIEF IS A LINEAR PROCESS
Grief is anything but linear, it is full of complexities, nuances, twists and turns, ups and downs, and involves a wide range of emotional, physical, mental, social, and spiritual impacts. There is no specific time frame for grieving. How long it takes differs from person to person, and there is no clear cut pathway to follow.
04. GRIEF SHOULD BE HIDDEN FROM OTHERS
Grief actually needs to be witnessed, honoured and felt. It does not need to be silenced, hidden or pushed aside. The messages we get from our grief illiterate society tell us that grief is something we need to get rid of, hide away in dark corners and keep to ourselves. The messages we receive about grief from friends, family, society, and the media are often unhelpful and misinformed. Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. It is essential that we invite grief out of the dark so that it can be held, tended to, and honoured.
05. GRIEF IS ONLY SAD FEELINGS
Grief is sadness, but it is also so much more. Grief involves the full range of human emotions — from sadness, to anxiety, happiness, love, gratitude, anger, and basically any other emotion you can think of, depending on where you’re at in your individual process.
06. GRIEF IS SOMETHING TO "GET OVER"
We don’t “get over” grief, we feel, honour and integrate our experiences and learn how to live with our grief in ways that allow us to participate fully in our lives.
07. WE SHOULD "BE STRONG" IN THE FACE OF LOSS
Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to "be strong", and you don't need to "protect" your family or friends from your grief by putting on a brave face. Your grief is not a burden. Showing your true feelings can help others be honest with their own emotional pains.
Here we welcome the truth of our human experiences, and that includes the truth and the depths of our grief.
08. IF YOU DON'T CRY, YOU AREN'T GRIEVEING OR SAD
Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
09. MOVING FORWARD MEANS FORGETTING ABOUT YOUR LOSS
Moving forward is not the same as forgetting. You can move forward with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost alive and as an important part of you and your life. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining the people we are.
The ways in which we talk about, address, and hold grief have to change. It is my mission to walk the world up to the potent portal that grief is. Grief is wild, alive, sacred and untamed and it should be held, tended to and honoured as such. Now that we've busted some myths, let's drop them, and hold onto some grief truths that allow us to show up fully and freely, no matter how we are feeling.
Let's keep the conversation open. Let's continue to talk about the things no one wants to talk about, because it matters. Loss, grief, pain and heartache are part of our human experience — we don’t get to escape these experiences, we don’t get to silence these parts of ourselves and then keep on keeping on.The truth of our experiences and existence matters and deserves space to be heard, witnessed and honoured.
Wanting to understand yourself deeper through your grief process - explore your Grieving Archetype - Take the Quiz.
Questions about what grief is or isn’t? Let’s explore them together. I am committed to create grief literate, grief welcoming and grief honouring spaces.
You and your grief is welcome here.
About the Author:
Hayley Yarish is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), Grief Therapist, Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider, and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®. She specializes in supporting individuals who are navigating loss and grief of any kind. Her own experiences with grief and loss have cracked her heart wide open and led her to doing this sacred work in the world.
Specific areas of focus: death of a loved one (recent or past), life changing transitions, relationship transitions and break ups, pregnancy loss, grief around family planning, and supporting entrepreneurs through the grief that comes with growth.
To learn more about Hayley or to book a session with her, click here.