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You are ill-equipped to deal with grief

Jesse Martin

June 16, 2016

Grief is the normal reaction to a loss of any kind. The feelings you are having are normal and natural.

However, in a society where we are increasingly conditioned to expect instant solutions -- usually pharmaceutical ones -- few people know what to do with these feelings, let alone how to help others that are experiencing them.

Grief is the most neglected and misunderstood experience, often by both the griever and those around them.

—Grief Recovery Handbook

The reality is, it hurts. And only when we take the time to acknowledge -- and if necessary, explore -- our pain, do we reap the benefits of coming out the other end as a stronger person.

We are taught many unhelpful things about grief, some of which are even counterproductive because they fail to communicate the single most important message:

It’s okay to feel the way you feel.

Here are some of them:

  1. “Don’t feel bad” — Message: If you do feel bad, that’s not okay.
  2. “Replace the loss” — Message: There’s more fish in the sea, if you get hung up on this one, that’s not okay.
  3. “Grieve alone” — Message: You should be able to process your grief by yourself, if not, that’s not okay.
  4. “Just give it time” — Message: If you feel sad, it’s just because you haven’t waited long enough.
  5. “Be strong for others” — Message: It’s not okay to be sad.
  6. “Keep busy” — Message: It’s not okay to listen to your emotions.

Your friends and family are ill-prepared to help you deal with your loss Most people around us, although well-meaning, have no successful grief recovery experiences to share. They often unintentionally encourage us to act recovered. {James:2009tm}

They don’t know what to say. Even a well-meaning friend who has had a parallel loss does not know how you feel.

They’re afraid of our feelings. They try to change the subject They intellectualize They don’t hear us

Source: the Grief Recovery Handbook

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