Back in 1993, Russell Friedman, one of the past co-directors of the Grief Recovery Institute, wrote a blog abut the “Cliche’s” that exist around grief. Now, more than 15 years later, those “cliches” haven’t changed…at least they haven’t changed for the people who haven’t completed Grief Recovery Training!
Okay, okay..as the Executive Director of Grief Recovery Institute Australia & New Zealand, I’m just a bit biased around the concepts of grief and loss and how vitally important it is for every single person in society to understand the concepts of grief and loss and learn how to support one another in the most meaningful way around loss. Here is what Russell wrote, and I’ve added to it a bit as well.
We have all been educated on how to acquire things. We have been taught how to get an education, get a job, buy a house, etc… You can take courses in virtually anything that might interest you – especially now with online training. But just stop and think…What education do we receive about dealing with loss? Do schools teach information about loss or how to deal with the conflicting feelings caused by significant emotional loss? Grief and Loss are so much more predictable and inevitable than gain, and yet we are woefully ill-prepared to deal with loss. To make matters worse, society helps promote these killer cliches about loss. Let’s explore some of these clichés…
#1 – Time Heals All Wounds
One of the most damaging killer clichés about loss is time heals all wounds. When we present open lectures on The Grief Recovery Method, we often ask if anyone is still feeling pain, isolation, or loneliness as the result of the death of someone important to them 20 or more years ago. There are always several hands raised in response to that question. Then we gently ask, “If time is going to heal, then 20 years still isn’t enough?”
Recovery from loss is the result of actions taken within time, but it need not take as much time as you have been led to believe. Recovery is totally individual and there is no absolute time frame. Sometimes in an attempt to conform to other people’s time frames, we do ourselves great harm.
#2 – Why aren’t you over it yet?
This idea leads us to another of the killer clichés, “You should be over it by now.” It is bad enough that well-meaning, well-intentioned friends attack us with killer clichés, but then we start picking on ourselves with grieving quotes like this. We start believing that we are defective or somehow deficient because we haven’t recovered yet.
If we take just these two killer clichés, we can see that they have something in common. They both imply that a non-action will have some therapeutic or recovery value. That by waiting and letting some time pass, we will heal. Let’s add a third cliché to the batch.
#3 – Keep Busy
“You have to keep busy.” Many grievers follow this incorrect advice and work two or three jobs. They fill their time with endless tasks and chores. At the end of any given day, asked how they feel, invariably they report that their heart still feels broken; that all they accomplished by staying busy was to get exhausted.
With only three basic killer clichés we can severely limit and restrict our ability to participate in effective recovery. It is not only that people around us tell us these bereavement quotes or clichés in an attempt to help, but we ourselves learned and practiced these false beliefs for most of our lives. It is time for us to learn some new and helpful beliefs to assist us in grieving and completing relationships that have ended or changed.
I have heard that it takes two years to get over the death of a loved one; five years to get over the death of a parent; and you never get over the death of a child. Is this true?
Part of the problem is the phrase get over. It is more accurate to say that you would never forget a child who had died, anymore than you would ever forget a parent or a loved one. Another part of the problem is that time, of itself, is a recovery action. Although recovery from loss does take some time, it is the actions within time that lead to successful recovery.
The primary goal of The Grief Recovery Method is to help you grieve and complete relationships that have ended or changed. Using The Grief Recovery Method allows you to have fond memories not turn painful and helps you retake a happy and productive place in your own life. In addition, you regain the ability to begin new relationships, rather than attempting to replace or avoid past relationships.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. We are a short email or a quick phone call away!
Until next time, from my heart to yours, Amanda