#1 Grief is Mourning
Truth: People sometimes confuse the two but there is a difference. Grief is the experience of internal thoughts and feelings about the loss of our child while mourning is taking that internal experience of grief and finding ways to express it outwardly and share it with others.
#2 There are Stages to Grief
Truth: Grief is not predictable and it is not orderly. Grief is messy yet beautiful all at the same time because it is an indication of love lost. Grief cannot not be categorized into stages, as each person’s grief experience is uniquely their own.
#3 You Should Move Away from Grief Instead of Towards It
Truth: In our society we are taught to avoid pain and grief is a form of pain. We are often encouraged to push grief away and hide from it and all of the sorrow it brings. When really one needs to experience grief, not repress it, in order to heal.
#4 One Should Get Over Their Grief
Truth: There is no time limit on grief. We all mourn at our own pace and in our own time. I believe that grief never leaves us completely. I do think one can heal, but I don’t believe one will ever be the same as they were before the loss of a child. We learn to integrate our loss into our lives and create a “new normal” again in a world without our child, but we will never “get over” the loss of not being able to hold them in our arms again.
#5 Having Tears of Grief Makes Me Weak
Truth: Unfortunately, in our society we have come to think that tears of grief are a sign of weakness. When in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Tears are nature’s way of releasing inner tension and complex emotions. Tears of grief should be reframed as a brave act of love. Crying from grief of the loss of a child is not a weakness; it’s a sign that one is mourning a great injury of the heart.
#6 Pregnancy Loss & Infertility is a Lesser Grief
Truth: Pregnancy loss at any stage and infertility is a loss of the dreams and hopes one has been planning for their future children. As someone who has experienced pregnancy loss, I want people to know that a pregnancy didn’t just end, my child died. And yes, I believe infertility must be a grief ridden experience, but I can’t speak from experience. In no way is pregnancy loss or infertility a lesser grief. It’s just different, as all grief is different because it’s a deep and personal experience unique to the individual.
#7 Don’t Talk or Ask a Friend about Their Deceased Child Because It Brings Up Too Much Pain
Truth: In most cases, from my experience, you won’t hurt a grieving parent’s feelings when mentioning the name of their child. Speaking as a bereaved parent, my grief is with me every day. I haven’t forgotten the pain that comes with living each day without my daughter. Actually, I often feel a sense of relief when someone remembers my child as it validates my love and loss. Talking about my daughter makes me happy. So, I challenge you to gently ask about a bereaved parent’s child. You might just brighten their day.
#1-5 of the article is drawn from Alan Wolfelt’s work: Dispelling 5 Common Myths about Grief www.centerforloss.com