This is an excerpt from The Five Most Harmful Myths About Grief by Elaine Voci, Ph.D. which is available on Amazon.com
In writing this booklet, my purpose is to contribute to the specific undoing of five common myths about grief that are untrue and create unnecessary pain, and impose psychological burdens on the bereaved. These myths are the foundation for much of the unsolicited bad advice that bereaved people receive.
In my career and in my personal life I have experienced my share of grief, loss, and healing and I have worked in hospice with grieving families, and patients who were dying. I have studied the subject of grief through conference workshops and classes, read books written by experts, and completed training as a Life-Cycle Celebrant® specializing in funerals. I want to pass on to you what I have learned.
I also want to show you what healthy grieving looks like, and to inspire you with stories from real-life experiences that can help ease your journey through grief. We can, and must, do better by one another. Death, loss and grief don’t have to overcome us; most of us are more resilient than we know. Grief doesn’t have to define us, but it often reveals us – to ourselves and to others. In that sense, we are tested by grief and come to fully know ourselves.
There are two kinds of courage I think we need for the journey of grief: the first is to face our own mortality, and that of our loved ones. Every human life story has a beginning and an end. In between those two points, we need courage to discover what has meaning for us, and what we will do with the time we have. The second kind of courage is even more important – the courage to act on what is real, true, and possible for us when grief cracks open our hearts and renders us deeply vulnerable and wounded. The arc of our life story is defined by events that have the power to change us forever; grief is one of them. Our former identity dissolves and in its place emerges a new version of ourselves with which we will live out our future life stories, including our own ending.
There is a certain grace within grief that I have seen firsthand. Grief is like a long hallway that we walk when our loved one dies. We may stumble at first, unsure of our footing and our destination. The distance can seem so great that it drains our energy and our life force. But most of us keep walking, and gathering resilience; we grieve, we cry, we mourn, we ride the oscillating waves of emotion from day to day. One day we are deeply sad, and the next we are a little more accepting of our loss. Then a day finally comes when we have a quiet feeling of resolution and the hallway seems shorter, and more manageable. We can see a doorway at the end and a threshold over which we can choose to step that will bring us to a new place of wholeness. My hope is that this booklet will add to your grace as you are opened, deepened, strengthened, and softened by your grief.