When it comes to dealing with grief, we’re a lot more resilient than we think we are. According to Time magazine, a lot of our beliefs about grief come from psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who called grief a “process” – and defined the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This led to grief counseling, healing centers, and support groups at hospitals, churches and funeral homes. It also led to a lot of myths about grief. So, it’s time to bust a few open.
- #1: The biggest misconception is: We have to grieve in stages. A new study in Journal of the American Medical Association found that most people accepted the death of a loved one from the very beginning, not at the end. Instead of the “expected” anger or depression, they reported more of a “yearning” for their absent loved one.
- Myth #2: Grief must be expressed instead of repressed. The fact is: Expressing anger and other negative emotions can actually prolong your grief. A study found that those who avoided confronting the loss of a spouse or child were less depressed and anxious two years later, and had fewer health complaints than those who “worked through” their grief.
- Another myth: Grief is harder on women. That idea came from a study in the early 1970’s, when women relied more on their husbands for their sense of identity and financial security. In fact, many were full-time homemakers who didn’t even know how to drive. In a more recent study, men and women were about even.
- Another myth: Grief never ends. Researchers today say that the worst grief is usually over in about six months. The bereaved still missed their spouse or child, but they function normally.
- The final myth: Grief counseling helps. Researchers analyzed more than 60 controlled studies on grief intervention, and found no evidence that counseling was any better than the simple passage of time.