Get Over It! (and other bits of unhelpful advice)

Many of us have been told what not to say to someone who is sad and grieving. The problem with a list of “don'ts” is that it is easy to forget them and say what we have learned from others throughout life. The reality is that things sometimes pop out of our mouths before we think of how those comments might be perceived and/or received.

There is an enormous difference between “intention” and “perception”. Most people never intend to upset someone who is sad or grieving by offering advice. They are desperately want to provide help and support. The problem arises in how the griever perceives the comment. Grievers may have a reduced sense of concentration and may be highly sensitive to what they hear. Things that they might normally ignore can cut like a knife to the heart. These well-intentioned remarks need to be avoided.  One such remark is -

“Get Over It!”

After an arbitrary amount of time, many people think that the passage of that time should somehow make a difference in how someone who is grieving responds to their loss. This is frequently when people tell them that they need to “Get over it!” The reality is that when something major happens in our lives, we will “get through” it but we never “get over” it.  The memories of that event will be with us forever.

Telling someone to get over it often perceived as telling that person that the loss they experienced is not significant enough to continue to impact their life. If that loss was significant enough to cause grief, it will continue to impact their life to some degree. The degree of the impact is not controlled by time. Time only passes by and sets that emotional pain into place as part of their “new normal”. When that happens, not only does the griever not get over it, but rather continues to live that pain silently. They start stuffing their feelings to avoid hearing this painful suggestion again and again.

It is what a griever does with time that will help them to move towards recovery.

A far better thing to do is to let them know that it is possible to take grief recovery action to lessen that emotional pain. By taking such action, they will be able, once again, to enjoy the many positive memories of that relationship.

The Grief Recovery Method is Evidenced Based

July 14, 2019 by Laurie One of the most frequent questions asked at The Grief Recovery Institute, by those who are professionally involved in therapeutic practice, is whether there are any studies that show that The Grief Recovery Method is effective. In the past, we could talk about the anecdotal stories shared with us by those grievers who have been positively impacted by this program. After almost 40 years of working with the grieving community, we certainly have heard thousands of stories from those we help. Now there is actually a university study that supports the value of this program as well. Dr. Rachael D. Nolan and Dr. Jeffery R. Hallam, from Kent State University, recently published the initial findings of their ongoing studies in The American Journal of Health Education. Their findings show that The Grief Recovery Method is an evidence-based process for effectively assisting grievers in dealing with personal emotional loss, no matter the cause. This finding is significant, since there is no other internationally available support group format that has been the subject of such a study and found to be evidence-based. Better still, this format is designed to be effective in just eight working sessions with grievers. Whether the pain of grief is a result of a death or any other significant emotional loss, this approach is still effective. There have been many people in the therapeutic community who have employed The Grief Recovery Method as an effective tool in their work. These therapists chose to consider Certification Training in this approach to working with grievers either after a personal loss that they individually experienced, or after looking into this program on their own. Up until the study by Drs. Nolan and Hallam, there had been no independent university study of the value of any such grief assistance community-based programs. The Kent State research is the first such published study on this subject. This study is based on the eight-meeting support group format for Grief Recovery created by The Grief Recovery Institute. For those who prefer to work with clients in a one-on-one setting, these same materials have also been developed into a seven-meeting format for that purpose.

Three Reasons Why Grief Is So Challenging

July 14, 2019 by Laurie

Most people have no concept of the overpowering nature of grief until they face it on a personal level. They most likely encountered family or friends who were grieving and wondered why they were so upset, because they had no concept of the emotional pain these people were experiencing.

Grief is a very individual and personal emotion. Much of this pain is a factor of the things we might have wished had been different, better, or more in that relationship. It is also impacted by the dreams and expectations of a future that is now going to be very different than we had expected.

Here are 3 reasons why grief is so challenging and some suggestions on how to deal with it.

1. We were never taught how to deal with the emotional pain of loss.

Most of us have spent a lifetime learning how to get things, but we were never taught anything on an emotional value when it comes to losing them.

Parents do not generally sit their children at a table and explain to them how to deal with loss. They are so concerned with protecting us from painful events, it never occurs to them that this is information that we need to know. In all likelihood, their parents never thought of this either. Our parents can only pass on to us what they know. When it comes to dealing with loss, more often than not, the information that they do pass on to us is actually “misinformation.”

We call these things misinformation because they really do nothing to deal with that emotional pain. It is advice that speaks to our logic and intellect, but grief is emotional, rather than intellectual. More than anything, the things we learn at an early age are designed to make us “socially appropriate” and easier for others to accept.

They become part of our belief system because they are so often repeated. They include such things as:

• Don’t Feel Bad (Hearing this rarely makes you feel better!)

• Replace The Loss (Often, with the loss of a pet or toy, this is the “solution” for dealing with our tears.)

• Grieve Alone (“If you are going to cry, go to your room.”)

• Grief Just takes Time (”The comment often made when we ask how long this will hurt. In truth, time just goes by and you become accustomed to feeling this emotional pain.)

• Be Strong (Big boys and girls don’t cry! We are often told we need to be strong for others.)

• Keep Busy (If you are busy, you won’t have time to feel sorry for yourself!)

None of these are helpful in helping us deal with the emotional pain that is grief.

2. Our friends and family tend to provide less support than we expect.

It is possible that those friends and family members are grieving this loss as well, or that this loss reminds them of another loss that they experienced. Every relationship is different, even within the same family, which means that everyone’s grief is also different. When someone is dealing with their own feelings of grief, they are less able to offer meaningful support to others. It is not uncommon for people in the same family to feel that others are not hurting as much, simply because they are not displaying their grief in the same way.

3. Grief is cumulative!

When we experience a new loss, this tends to stir up all of the other grief issues that are still lingering from past losses. If you have not taken action to effectively move through and beyond previous grief experiences, they will stay with you no matter how hard you try to suppress those feelings. As a result, you end up not just dealing with the current loss, but past ones as well.

This does not mean that your situation is hopeless and that all of this cumulative grief will be with you forever. You can take effective action to move beyond the pain of loss. This will put you in the position to enjoy past memories, without being overwhelmed with regrets and other sad feelings.

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to any change you experience in life. You don’t need to be “fixed” to feel better. You simply need direction and education on how to “recover.” This is the focus of the Grief Recovery Method.

Recovery from loss is a choice, and that choice is yours!