Grief is a complex experience that affects us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. When we lose someone or something important to us, we go through a process of mourning, where we come to terms with our emotions and find a new way of living. It's something that we will all experience at some point in our lives, but we often don't learn about it until we're faced with it ourselves. It's a private experience that we tend to keep hidden, so we don't often have access to other people's experiences or guidance on handling it.


Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths surrounding grief that can make it even harder to navigate. For example, many people believe that grief follows a predictable timeline or that it's something you need to "get over." But the truth is that grief is different for everyone, and there's no right or wrong way to grieve. We all have our own unique experiences, and it's okay to take the time you need to process your emotions and find your own way forward. Grief is a heavy burden we all carry differently, but with time and support, we can learn to manage it and find a new normal.


Myth #1: Grief follows a predictable timeline.


In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a renowned research scientist, identified five predictable stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It was thought that everyone manages grief similarly, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Forcing expectations upon a griever can be harmful. Kubler-Ross did identify similar experiences that all humans have, but she never intended for the stages of grief to predict an order or structure to grief. Most people experiencing loss will experience these phases, but they can be in any order, combined, or skipped altogether.  We now know that everyone grieves in their own unique way, and there's no right or wrong way to do it. 


Many factors can affect how someone grieves, such as their relationship with the person, how they died, and when they died. Other influences can include what secondary losses occurred, their experience with death, their current situation in life, and many other factors. It's important to remember that everyone's way of grieving is normal, no matter how different it may be from what we expect. Also, many interpretations from the initial study have introduced additional stages, such as finding meaning and reconstruction. So, it's okay to take the time you need to process your emotions and find your own way forward.


Myth #2: Grief is something to "get over."


Grief is a natural process that we all experience differently, and it's important to remember that there's no "normal" timeline for it. It's a journey that requires mourning, which means feeling all of the emotions that come with losing someone or something important and incorporating the memory of that person or thing into your day-to-day life. This process can last for days, weeks, or even years, and there are no hard-and-fast rules for how to do it. Some people find comfort in religious or cultural rituals like funerals or memorials, while others find their own ways to honor their loved ones.


I like to think about grief as a big boulder that we're handed when we experience a loss. At first, it feels impossible to carry, but over time we learn to become stronger and more capable of carrying its weight. The boulder never shrinks or becomes lighter, but we become more able to take it with us as we move forward.


Myth #3: Grief is a solo journey.


When we experience a loss, society often expects us to grieve alone or seek only professional support. But the truth is, we all grieve differently and need many options for help. Not everyone in our lives before the loss is willing or able to support us on this journey, so we need to be careful when asking for help and determine who is safe to share our experience with. Fortunately, many resources are available to help us through the grieving process, including therapists, psychologists, and grief coaches. Funeral homes can also provide surprising support, offering tips for mourning, connections to professionals, and daily options through emails and social media. Check out this site for some helpful resources. 


Additionally, most hospices offer bereavement support to their communities and patients' family members for several months, including individual and group support. And for those who prefer online options, social media has many groups, such as Widows Empowering Widows and Fit Widow, to connect with. If you're a podcast fan, you can find several resources through your favorite source, such as Widow Cast.




Grief is a complex and personal experience that affects us in numerous ways. Losing someone or something important to us can be a difficult process to navigate, and it's okay to take the time you need to come to terms with your emotions and find your own way forward. Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding grief that can make it even harder to cope with. The truth is that we all grieve in our own unique way, and there's no "right" or "wrong" way to do it. 


It's important to remember that grief is a journey, and there's no set timeline for how long it should take. Some days will be harder than others, but with time and support, we can learn to carry the weight of our loss and find a new way of living. Remember that you're not alone, and many resources are available to help you through the grieving process.

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by Mary H. Murphy

Life & Grief Coach
I am passionate about helping people find their purpose and build a meaningful life after facing adversity. I understand the power of resilience, having personally experienced grief and loss. I specialize in helping individuals navigate different phases of life with grace: from career transitions to retirement; significant life changes such as widowhood or bereavement; navigating the challenges that come with getting remarried; or simply feeling stuck and wanting to create positive change. As a retired Human Resources and Benefits professional, I bring 20 years of leadership experience to my work. I have managed Employee Teams, $100M+ budgets, Employee Benefits, FMLA, and Healthcare for Fortune 500 companies. My approach is grounded in my knowledge of human behavior and HR/benefits management experience. My commitment to each individual is to provide support that focuses on their values, vision, strengths, and purpose. From this place, we can design bold new lives.
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