What Is the Widespread Misunderstanding about Grief?

smooth polished stone heart lying among shells on the beachMisunderstanding about grief is common. Just talk to people, if you can get them to talk about it. People generally don’t want to discuss grief until they’re faced with it in their own lives—or in the life of someone they know.

A key misconception is that grief will finally just go away on its own. This mistaken idea goes right along with the one we’ve all heard: “Time heals all wounds.” Neither is true.

All loss results in grief—but the process to reach healing is a choice each person has to make. We choose whether to face our grief or try to ignore or bury it. Every person eventually chooses whether to be a victor or a victim.

I don’t want to mislead you. At first, grief is all-consuming, and the pain is overwhelming. You’ll be in a state of shock and feel numb. Some describe this feeling as being ‘in a fog.’

Your body is protecting you—because you aren’t able to take everything in at once and continue to function. However, after the shock and numbness slowly wear off, you will have to decide how to handle your grief.

The healthy choice is to step into the grieving process and be proactive in your healing. The more active part you play, the faster you’ll move toward healing.

Since grief affects you in every area of your life—mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually—unresolved grief will show up in real, unhealthy ways. Unfortunately, some people do not enter into the process. They fail to accept their loss and adjust to the changes. This decision creates a heartbreaking outlook for their future. Those who ignore or bury their grief will keep on wounding themselves and those around them by using various destructive ways to cover up their pain.

Grieving is a positive process. Yes, the pain hurts. But facing it and working through it provide the way to return to a positive and meaningful life. Which is better: pain for a time and then a satisfying life again—or staying trapped in pain for a lifetime?

Once you know what you’re up against, the choice seems clear.

I hope you’ll choose healing.

©  2012 Judy Brizendine

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About Judy

"Out of your deepest pain comes your greatest gift." Judy writes about grief and loss in a realistic, practical way - to help, inspire, encourage, and educate any who face loss in their lives. A fellow-traveler's approach to grief ...

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2 Responses to “What Is the Widespread Misunderstanding about Grief?”

  1. In my experience, people expect you to be “over” grief in a few weeks or months. This is completely unrealistic especially if you are grieving for multiple losses, as I was. Time is different when you’re grieving. After church one morning a friend said, “It’s been a year since your daughter died, hasn’t it?” Though her comment came from caring, I was shocked because only three months had passed since my daughter died. Though we have similar responses to grief, each of us grieves in our own time and I think we need to give ourselves this time.

    • admin says:

      You’re so right, Harriet. People who have not been through a similar experience of grief, or a devastating grief experience of their own, have no way of understanding what is needed or how long it takes. As you said, comments from others may come from a place of caring, but there may still be a complete lack of understanding. Every situation and every person is different (just as you said) — and we owe it to ourselves to give grieving the time it takes. Grieving is the path to healing and it is a process over time. There are no shortcuts.

      Thank you for reading the blog and taking the time to respond.

      Bless you,
      Judy