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Myths about Grief

Dr. Dwight Hughes, therapist, does some myth-busting of the myths about grief. Watch the whole conversation: Grief, Loss, and the Holidays recorded webinar.

Myths about Grief Transcript

Well, I’m sure there are numerous myths. I’d like to bring our attention to five of them: 

  1. Grief is the same for everyone – Resoundingly not true. Some people cry, some run, literally or figuratively. Some laugh, some busy themselves. Not to mention the influence of one’s cultural location and the impact of religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. All of that will shape and can change how one grieves. 
  1. Grieving is a process that can be expedited – No way. Working through what I’d like to call the tangled ball of emotions takes the time that’s needed. You can’t set a clock on it. The journey cannot be rushed. There are so many factors that influence grief. It’s layered, it’s too complex. Factors such as one’s cultural location, their spirituality, the role of the person in the family, if we’re thinking about the loss of a person. The intensity of that relationship, that attachment, that bond. The circumstance of the death, all of these things impact how one grieves. The age of the griever, one’s gender, one’s mental health, and many, many other factors. 
  1. Time alone will heal or transform you – No way. Seeking comfort and social support, sharing and processing one’s emotions related to the loss is so key. It’s a must.
  1. Ignoring it will make it go away – Ignoring or suppressing it, it will show up. It will find you. Whether it’s a diminished tolerance for life in general, it can show up as anger, depression, substance use, suicidal ideation, physical or cognitive reactions of all sorts. 
  2. Men don’t grieve – I want to spend a little more time here. Grief is universal. Men grieve in ways that are typically different from women. Men are more likely to seek comfort through keeping busy and focusing on an activity. More likely to take refuge in their work. More likely to withdraw and deal with their grief in private, if at all. Men are more likely to feel a sense of powerlessness, a loss of control. More likely to engage in the misuse of substance, risk-taking behaviors. Men are more likely to become angry or even act out aggressively. 

These are the myths that came to me, and I imagine that even as we begin to have this conversation, we may uncover more. 

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