Typical Myths about Grief and Mourning

Even though grief is a universal reaction to any kind of loss, it can be surrounded by numerous misconceptions and myths. Here are some of the most common myths about grief, and explanations that will help you understand the variations and ranges of grief.

You Just Need to Get Better

At many companies, the standard bereavement leave policy is three days. Does that mean that in three days after a death, you are expected to be back to business as usual? Certainly not. Three days gives you time to deal with the immediate aftermath of someone’s death, but recovery from grief can take weeks, months and even years. Each person’s grief journey is different.

We All Grieve in Pretty Much the Same Way

Not true. There is tremendous variation in styles of grieving, including cultural variations related to grief and traditions, and variations in how long and how intensely people grieve. Some people can work through grief relatively easily, while others may struggle for years.

It Takes About a Year to "Get Over" a Significant Loss

Not true, because each person’s experience is different. A survivor whose loved one died after a long history of Alzheimer’s disease, for example, may experience a relatively short grief response after the death. He or she may have grieved the loss of the loved one’s personality during long years of progressive decline that lead up to the death. A parent whose child died suddenly years ago, however, may never fully recover from the loss. Generally, it is thought that intense grieving lasts from three months to a year and that some people continue experiencing grief for two years or more. For many, grief simply changes and evolves over time, and it manifests itself in different ways as time passes.

It’s Better Not to Think or Talk About the Pain

On the contrary, it has been proven that avoiding the pain associated with grief can have negative consequences, including physical problems, anxiety and depression. Those who are grieving need to honor the amount of time they need to grieve, and not try to live up to their own internal expectations or outside pressure.

The Intensity and Length of Your Grief Reflects How Much You Loved the Deceased

Simply not true. There is no grieving contest and no winner. You must feel what you feel and begin to live life when you are ready, on your own timetable. Your grief has no bearing on another’s grief, nor on the depth of your feelings for the person who has died.

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