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Grief: The Myth of Moving On

March 15, 2024

Grief, no doubt, is a universal struggle that happens to everyone. We can’t escape it. When we experience loss and are in the throes of grief, it’s common for well-meaning friends, coworkers, or family members to offer familiar platitudes like:

Everything happens for a reason.

They’re in a better place.

I know how you feel.

It was meant to be.

Time heals all wounds.

Yet these platitudes are simply learned expressions that are convenient to say in grieving situations, shares The State Journal-Register. Like platitudes, society has taught us to view grief as a linear process where you gradually heal and leave your pain behind.

It’s time we rethink our view of grief, coping with loss, and moving on.

But what if this isn’t always true? What if grief doesn’t actually follow a set timeline or simply disappear one day? It’s time we rethink our view of grief, coping with loss, and moving on. Instead of seeing this as an experience we eventually bounce back from, we need to approach the grieving process as something we learn to coexist with, so we can navigate it in a healthy way moving forward.

Grief: It’s More Complex Than You Think

There’s no right or wrong way to approach coping with loss and processing grief. Consequently, it can look different depending on the person, so the things you do at point A won’t necessarily mean you’ll reach point B right away — or even next — in the healing process. When dealing with the death of a loved one especially, you may struggle with the following during the grieving process, says Mental Health America:

  • Denial
  • Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Shock
  • Sadness
  • Yearning
  • Anger
  • Humiliation
  • Despair
  • Guilt

In addition to your emotions, grief impacts your brain and body in different ways as well. In fact, when you experience grief, your brain interprets this as emotional trauma or PTSD, says American Brain Foundation Neurologist Lisa M. Shulman:  “Grief can cause changes in memory, behavior, sleep and body function, affecting the immune system as well as the heart.” Shulman explains that the brain’s goal when processing grief is “survival.”

Why the Healing Process Takes Time

friend offering support to grieving friend by holding hands

Because of grief’s complexity, there’s not necessarily an average timetable for overcoming it. In fact, grief can even resurface unexpectedly, sometimes in new forms. “Grief is that emotional state that just knocks you off your feet and comes over you like a wave,” shares The Grieving Brain author Mary-Frances O’Connor with NPR. “We suddenly have to learn a totally new set of rules to operate in the world.”

Resilience researcher Dr. Lucy Hone explains grief similarly to The Guardian: “It challenges all that you’ve assumed about the world, everything that you think you know the way that life should unfold. And so what you have to do is slowly start to remake sense of the world again.”

The National Institutes of Health describes grief as the process of learning to accept and live with the loss you’ve experienced. As with many things in life, it can take different lengths of time to learn this new way of being.

Some people may experience anticipatory grief, feeling the loss of a loved one before their death. Others can struggle through what’s called prolonged grief disorder, an intense form of grief that can impact your thinking and daily functioning. You may even encounter delayed grief, which means your grieving process doesn’t begin until sometime after the magnitude of the loss finally settles in, reports

Finding Emotional Recovery When Coping With Loss

Moving on from grief may mean you never fully return to that “back to normal” feeling. There might be times when grief feels overwhelming, like there’s no end in sight. But you can learn to maintain a healthy coexistence with grief. And in time, the pain you feel can become less debilitating.

It’s OK not to have all the answers. There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to emotional recovery.

So how can you achieve emotional recovery in this season? Here are a few practical ways:

  • Seek out others who will support and listen to you.
  • Process your feelings with trusted friends or family.
  • Prioritize self-care, including your health, nutrition, and sleep.
  • Celebrate and honor your loved one who passed away.

As you’re navigating grief and loss, your world may be full of questions and uncertainty. It’s OK not to have all the answers. There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to emotional recovery. That’s why it’s also OK to seek out professional help along the way.

Getting the Help You Need at Rio Retreat Center

If you’re coping with loss, sometimes working with a mental health treatment center can be just what you need to restore your hope and find healing. At Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows, we provide life-changing workshops specifically designed to address the trauma of grief and loss, including:

Mending Heartwounds – This workshop will help you find resolution from the wounds of unseen or hidden grief associated with a painful loss.

Survivors – Here you will learn to understand and let go of past trauma or hurtful experiences so you can embrace true freedom from feeling “stuck” in your grief.

Grief isn’t something that has to keep you on the sidelines while you wait to feel better. With the right support, you can not only cultivate a healthier relationship with your grief; you can also restore your life. To get started, contact us today.