Identifying Myths and Revealing Realities on the Timing of Loss and Grief
Myth: A grieving person should be over their grief after two weeks.
Reality: There is no definite timeline for grief; it may take weeks, months, years or a lifetime to process a loss. How long depends on the person, the situation and the type of loss.
Myth: The grieving person should definitely be "over it" within two months.
Reality: There is no definite timeline for grief.
Myth: Grief declines over time in a steadily decreasing fashion.
Reality: Grief is more like a roller coaster ride with up times and down times.
Myth: Once over a loss, the grief is never experienced again.
Reality: A place, a smell, a song, or a special date may trigger the old memories. Grief may be experienced again.
Myth: Grief ends after the funeral.
Reality: Many people believe that life should return to normal after the funeral service. However, this may be the start of the grieving process as the shock and numbness give way to the reality of the loss.
Myth: Grief eventually ends.
Reality: In time most people learn to live with the loss.
More on the Timing of Grief
Noted psychiatrist and death and dying expert Elisabeth Kübler-Ross reminds us that mourning doesn't end in two months, six months or even a year, instead:
"Mourning can go on for years and years.
It doesn't end after a year, that's a false fantasy.
It usually ends when people realize that they can live again, that they can concentrate their energies on their lives as a whole, and not on their hurt, and guilt and pain."
One of the common myths about grief is that it eventually ends. In reality, as professor, author and thanatology expert Dr. Kenneth Doka notes:
"We do not get over grief.
But over time, we do learn to live with the loss.
We learn to live a different life
...with our loss."
Grieving people must recognize that they may never "get over" their grief or certain major losses such as the diagnosis of a terminal illness or the ultimate loss of a child, spouse or loved one to death. With time the loss, the intense, initial, painful emotions lessen to a level that allows the grieving person to function. The grief is no longer a daily all-consuming emotion. In time the grieving person learns how to cope with the loss and the grief, integrate the loss into his/her life, adapt to a life forever changed by the loss and keep living.