Hello, grief friends, new friends, old friends, friends of friends, you know…all the friend categories. Today we have a quick post aimed at dispelling one of the most exasperating myths in grief.
There are a handful of reasons why people expect closure in grief. For much of our history, grief theory models have given people the impression that grief follows a set of stages or tasks. So, many people think grief is a finite process with a beginning and an end.
For example, if you were to poll random people on the street and ask them what they know about grief, I bet things like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance would be at the top of the list. This is because most of our society has heard of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ ‘Five Stages of Grief’ and believed it to be a literal description.
People think that completing a set of stages or tasks, or just letting time pass in general, will lead to closure in grief. However, this is a misconception, and I’m sorry to say, this isn’t how grief works at all.
Another reason why some seek closure in grief is that they believe grief is synonymous only with things that are distressing, painful, and bad. Experiencing the death of a loved one is a nightmare. So when I say “grief never ends,” many people hear that as “the nightmare never ends,” which seems unfathomable.
Like most living organisms, we are pain averse. The idea of living with ongoing pain without eventually finding relief goes against our instincts. But, grief is far more nuanced and complex than people understand until they’ve experienced it for themselves.
Most grieving people will tell you that the ache never goes away; the love you have for that person never goes away. Grief means learning to love someone despite their physical absence. To quote Dr. Thomas Attig, who has written extensively on grief,
“When we learn to love in separation, we fulfill our deep desire to continue loving and to feel our loved ones’ love for us. And we fulfill their deep desires to be remembered and cherished for what they have given and continue to give even after they’ve died.”
Grief is inherent in loving someone you can’t be close to or reunited with. So, even years later, we are likely to feel things like longing, aching, and yearning at times. We talk a little more in-depth about closure in grief in the brief video below. Please take a few minutes to check it out.
We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.