Myth causes us to judge ourselves. It also causes others to judge us. When we don’t measure up to what our myths tell us, we think we’re broken. We try to fix something that doesn’t need fixing. Here are five myths that need snuffing out of the grief story.
1. Grief progresses in easily-defined stages.
Three years after Mom died, I looked out the dining room window and noticed the hummingbird feeders still hanging where she’d left them. Disorientated, I wondered how the feeders could be there when she was supposed to be dead. I realized later I’d experienced an episode of shock. Grief’s so-called stages can visit us at any time. Trying to fit ourselves and our sorrow into pre-set stages will only lead to self-condemnation.
2. Grief ends, and we “let go.”
I detest the terms “let go,” “move on,” and “find closure.” I suppose we use them because we hope for an end to grief. Perhaps “move forward” is a better term. We assimilate the reality of loss into a different kind of life which offers new joys that temper our loss.
3. Grief is painful, therefore we should avoid it.
Thing is, the grief is still there, even if you avoid it. It just goes deep. I’m a champion for dealing with grief head on. I don’t mean that we can order grief around, telling it what it can and can’t do to us. I mean giving grief the time it needs. I still have certain times I intend to grieve, like while listening to certain songs in my car. Or on anniversaries. I’ve leaned into my sorrow. In that way, it has become less painful.
4. Grief is easier when the person you lost was suffering.
My mother fell and broke her hip. Already suffering from emphysema, she lived 11 days in a hospital bed. She was suffering physically and emotionally. Nothing I could do helped. I’d pre-grieved her for three years, yet when she died, I wailed. I was glad she wasn’t suffering anymore. But grief is about our loss, about the hole in our lives. I still hurt. I’ve met people comforted by the thought that their loved one was not suffering anymore. I think that is great. But not everyone is going to feel that way.
5. Grief demonstrates a lack of faith
Though Jesus knew God was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he wept. God never expected us not to grieve. In fact, he offers to come beside us in our sorrow. The Bible says God is close to the brokenhearted. I’ve experienced his closeness in amazingly specific ways. Take your questions and pain to him. He’s waiting.
What grief myths would you add to this list? Don’t live under the power of myth. Will you let go of the myths imposed on you today?
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