Don't Be Fooled Into Believing These Four GRIEF MYTHS
Then Job replied: “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?—Job 19:1-2
Say nothing. Our friends may feel like they are intruding on our grief and simply avoid the topic. How does the griever deal with their friend’s silence? Honesty is usually the best approach. I’ve found it helpful with my friends to initiate a discussion on my grief struggles by simply saying, “This has been a hard week for me. Can I tell you about it?” or “I’m missing my mom a lot today. Can I tell you a bit about her?” It’s generally good to talk about death and its impact on you with your friends. I always appreciate someone asking me to tell them about my parents.
“You were lucky to have had them all these years.” I suppose this has some truth to it. I am fortunate to have my mom for 50 years— she was loving, kind, and a wonderful mom. But saying this is somehow supposed to makes the loss hurt less? What is the magic number of years where grief will not be present when we lose someone? Twenty years? Thirty? Forty? Fifty? This comment does not help. It’s as if there is a set number of years, after which we need to not feel the pain of a loss. I knew my mom for 50 years, but the pain of losing her was huge and has at times been overwhelming. Trying to mitigate one’s loss does not help.
“You should be over this” or “It’s time to move on.” Well, that’s easy for someone else to say, especially since they aren’t the one grieving. These kinds of statements indicate that there is a set way and timeline in which to deal with grief—which we know is not true. We all grieve in different ways, at different times, and for different lengths of time. Grief is sometimes be a complex phenomenon that can be relentless in its ability to hurt and distract.
Trying to push a time agenda on others is not only insensitive but also not helpful. If you are concerned about the length of time one has been in grief, try to learn more about their journey. What else is going on in their life? Are there other struggles present? Are there relationship challenges among friends and family? Work to be present with your grieving friend. Ask questions about their experience, their loved one, and how you might be able to help.
“Don’t feel bad” or “Your loved one wouldn’t want you to cry.” This reaction adds to the guilt someone may already be feeling. It implies that somehow someone’s emotional display is wrong. This statement usually reflects the discomfort of friends as they try to comfort the griever. Again, honesty is usually the proper response. The griever should courageously allow his or her feelings to simply be what they are.
I know that this can be quite uncomfortable and scary for the griever and denying one’s emotions may serve a shorter-term purpose. But God gives emotions to us for a purpose and we shouldn’t stuff them but rather fully engage them.
The church setting is the PERFECT place for the griever. Learn how to set up a Grief Journey weekend visit with Tim. It includes a public Grief Journey workshop (great visitor bringer) and training time for group leaders. CLICK HERE
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Dr. Timothy Sumerlin
Disciples In Motion