5 myths about mourning

“The poet is a pretender

Pretends so completely

That he even pretends it’s pain

The pain he really feels.”

Fernando Pessoa

What is grief ?

Grief is a normal reaction to the loss of someone or something that one considers valuable and that needs to be lived in order to move on with one’s life. Although grief is easily associated with the death of a loved one, this “living”, which follows the disappearance of something significant, covers several areas of life: financial loss or change of status, illness, retirement, disappearance of a pet, loss of a dream or a life project that never materialised, or a love that was never lived, for example in a relationship with parents, in a friendship, in a romantic relationship, in a marriage, in a divorce.

How does this reaction to loss manifest itself?

The reactions to these losses can be as varied in their manifestation – shock, anger, denial, guilt, sadness, emptiness – as in their intensity, almost like an earthquake, but with different intensities ranging from the inability to feel to a set of emotions that are felt as truly overwhelming and that are not always characteristic of unhappiness and anguish, sometimes mirroring positive emotions and moods.

The suffering associated with this loss may also include physical manifestations accompanied by difficulties in sleeping, eating, or others of a more intellectual nature such as difficulty in reasoning, memory loss, among others.

Reactions are very different for each person, but the greater the loss, the more intense are the manifestations. To be able to move on, to learn to live with the reality that one no longer has, one must learn to mourn.

5 Myths associated with mourning:

1. Grief disappears faster if you don’t give it a thought.

The fact of not thinking does not mean that the suffering disappears. For there to be real relief it is important to recognise and learn to deal with it. Feeling sadness, helplessness, fear, loneliness are normal reactions to a loss. What truly brings people together is the authenticity of their vulnerabilities, not the pretence that nothing is happening despite often doing so for fear of not being able to cope with the waves of feelings or mixture of emotions you may experience.

2. Grief takes at most a year.

Some people recover in weeks or months, others need years. And sometimes it can be beneficial to ask for help to learn to cope with the new reality, or just to express the feelings.

3. If you don’t cry or feel sad it means you don’t care.

Crying or feeling sadness are normal reactions to loss, but they are not the only manifestations of grief. Each person expresses their grief differently.

4. Leading a normal life or moving on means forgetting what or who was lost.

Moving on implies resuming the life one had or rebuilding it in the face of the new reality. It is a way of surviving and does not mean that one has forgotten or devalued what happened. When it comes to the loss of someone, moving on often means finding a way for the person who left to become a fundamental part of your life either through inspiring your memory, and integrating all the legacy that the person left, in the way he lived, related with you and what he left you in a material or intangible way in your heart and mind.

5. Grief only refers to the loss of a loved one.

If the reaction of mourning happens in several areas of your life, it is always time to do it when you feel that somehow you got stuck in an event, in a time of your life, in a relationship, in a project that you never achieved but could not forget. And pay attention, because until you learn to deal with what you have lost, you will never overcome your fear, which will truly enable you to move on.

“Nobody told me that suffering

looked so much like fear.”

C.S. Lewis

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