New Ways to Think About Grief
February 17, 2011
The so-called "five stages" of grief are deeply embedded in current culture -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But recently, researchers using sophisticated methods of data collection have begun to overturn this and other preconceptions about grief. Time Magazine lists some of the perceived wisdom that has turned out to be incorrect:
Myth No. 1: We Grieve in Stages
Most people actually accept the death of a loved one from the very beginning, and many people report feeling more yearning for their loved one than either anger or depression.
Myth No. 2: Express It; Don't Repress It
Expressing negative emotions can actually prolong your distress.
Myth No. 3: Grief is Harder on Women
In fact, relatively speaking, men suffer more from being bereaved.
Myth No. 4: Grief Never Ends
Researchers have now identified specific patterns to grief's intensity and duration; the worst of grief is usually over within about six months.
Myth No. 5: Counseling Helps
The only time this kind of counseling shows a benefit is when it is targeted at people having difficulty adapting to loss.
According to Time Magazine:
"One unfortunate result of all this mythmaking is that we've become more inflexible in our expectations of other people's grief -- quite a paradox, considering that awareness and tolerance were among the primary goals of the death-and-dying movement.
Instead of rushing to prescribe ways to grieve, it would be more helpful to spread a different, more liberating message based on what the science is beginning to tell us: that most people are resilient enough to get through loss on their own without stages or phases or tasks."