We Americans have a bad habit of wanting all of life’s experiences packaged up in a formulaic way that guarantees few surprises and as little discomfort as possible. Sometimes we take such thinking to the extreme. For example, how many of us just assume that there is a formula for grieving? How many of us assume the process is the same for everyone?
The experts at Rye, New York’s Relationships & More explain that grieving is a personal thing. Take the loss of a spouse, for example. Survivors all grieve in their own ways. Some prefer to grieve in private, refusing to shed a tear when others are around. Others are very open and public with their grief.
It should also be understood that there is no set time for grieving. One person might grieve the loss of a spouse for just a few months and that’s it. Another might grieve for an entire year – or even longer. To arbitrarily assign a point at which grieving should cease is to fail to recognize that people are different.
Three Grieving Myths
An in-depth piece from HealthDay contributor Beth Witrogen mentions three grieving myths in its in-depth discussion on grieving the loss of a spouse. These myths pervade the modern culture here in America. They are as follows:
1. Grieving Is Predictable and Orderly
We have somehow adopted the belief that grieving occurs in a predictable and orderly way. In fact, we have even made jokes about it in pop culture. But truth be told, grief is anything but predictable and orderly. There is no such thing as early- and late-stage grieving, for example. There is no way to look at how someone appears to be grieving and figure out where that person is in the process.
2. It’s Best to Keep One’s Distance
The next myths suggest that it is best to keep one’s distance when others are grieving. In other words, give the grieving person enough privacy to grieve alone. According to Relationships & More, this is often the worst thing we can do. Grieving people often need comfort more than anything else. They cannot be comforted if they are left isolated.
3. Getting Over the Loss Is the Number One Goal
Finally, the third myths states that getting over one’s loss is the number one goal. We tend to adopt this view because we want the person in question to ‘get back to normal’. We want that person to start living again. We perceive doing so as ‘getting over’ the loss. In reality though, many people continue to feel the pain of loss for the rest of their lives.
Counseling Is Always Possible
Just as there is no specific formula for grieving the loss of a spouse, there is also no best way to deal with that grief. Some people just have to live in their sorrow for a length of time before they can begin to smile again. Others need to stay busy with activities and friends. Still others need to immediately start working on a new relationship.
Of course, counseling is always possible. Seeking out counseling does not mean that there is something wrong with the person. Rather, counseling can be very therapeutic in the sense of being able to talk things out. Sometimes, that is all a person really needs.
If you recently lost your spouse, please know that there is no formula for grieving. How you grieve is entirely up to you, your personality, and your emotions. If you do need help sorting things out, search for a good therapist in your area.