Grief 101

Fact or Fiction?

  • We grieve losses other than death.  (Fact—loss of a job, independence, a pet, or a home can be significant (and often not acknowledged).)
  • Grief typically lasts six months.  (Fiction—there is no time limit on the grieving process; in fact, many would contend that grief never ends. Don’t allow others to pressure you into thinking you should “be better by now” or “over it by now.”)
  • Grief occurs in five distinct stages:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance.  (Fiction—while you may feel some or even all of these emotions on your grief journey, you will not experience them in stages or in any particular order.)
  • We each grieve differently.  (Fact—no two people will grieve the same loss the same way for the same length of time. This means that you should not compare your grief journey with someone else’s.)
  • We grieve each loss differently.  (Fact—there’s nothing “cookie-cutter” or predictable about grief. You might think, “My grief for my Dad’s death looked like this; therefore, I am pretty confident I know what to expect now that my Mom has died.” Experience, however, tells us that reality is much different.)
  • It’s common for people to feel relief after their loved one has died.  (Fact – often caregivers are so physically and emotionally exhausted that death is almost welcomed. This feeling of relief is often followed by feelings of guilt for feeling relieved! All of this is normal.)
  • It’s healthier for grievers to stay busy and avoid ever being alone.  (Fact and Fiction – remember, we each grieve differently. At times you may feel like going out with friends, but at other times you prefer to stay home and watch a movie alone. It’s okay to say “no” (and “yes!”) to social invitations.)
  • Well-meaning people will make thoughtless, even hurtful comments. (Fact – sadly this is all too true. Forgive them and then try to learn from their mistakes so that you can be a better friend when you are comforting someone else.)
  • It’s often better to wait a while after a death before making significant decisions (e.g., selling your house, changing jobs). (Fact – grief can affect your judgment, but if you must make such a decision, seek the counsel of those you trust.)
  • Occasionally, grief is overwhelming and professional help is needed. (Fact – sometimes the burden of grief does not ease over time and feelings of despair and emptiness persist. Reach out to your doctor, place of worship, or Evergreen Hospice Care. They will refer you to someone who can help.)