"Everyone Grieves In Their Own Way And At Their Own Pace."

That's great poetry—but what does it mean?

Google the phrase and get 319,000 hits. Read the entries until your eyes weary and you won't know a whole lot more about what it's supposed to mean than you did before you started.

More importantly, relative to grief-producing events, what, if anything does it have to do with recovery or completion of what is left emotionally unfinished in our relationships with people who have died or from whom we are divorced or estranged?

Simple answer - nothing!

Intellectually Accurate But Confusing And Meaningless

Yes, everyone grieves in their own unique way and at their own pace. But that statement, while logical,  says nothing helpful for a grieving person. It acts to further confuse an area that is already fraught with misinformation and meaningless clichés.

The fact that people grieve in their own way is based on how we each have interpreted and incorporated the information and misinformation about grief we've been subjected to since we could first make sense of language. The issue of pace is based on a dangerous falsehood, that "time heals all wounds." In reality, time can't heal an emotional wound anymore than time can fix a flat tire. Both require actions.

Even so, those explanations bring us no closer to understanding what relevance or value the phrase about individual grief and timing contains for a grieving person. The only possible solace in hearing that your grief is your own and done in your own time, is that it may help you not feel quite so crazy as you thrash around in the painful waters caused by major losses. Small comfort at best, but it makes no movement towards the hope or possibility of recovery or completion.

Down with Clichés - Up with Actions

We've never heard of a cliché that helped a grieving person discover and complete what was left emotionally unfinished for them in a relationship with anyone living or dead.

At the Grief Recovery Institute® we teach that completion of unresolved grief is the result of a series of small and correct actions choices made by the griever. And then we teach the principles and actions of recovery we've developed to help people discover and complete what's emotionally unfinished for them in relationship to people who've died or from whom they're estranged.

Use the principles and actions of Grief Recovery to help yourself or recommend to others; or find other methods, but never substitute clichés or conversations for actions that lead to recovery.

About the Author

Russell Friedman

Russell Friedman is Executive Director of The Grief Recovery Institute, and co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, When Children Grieve, and Moving On.

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