Why Grief Literacy Will Improve Your Life


How grief literate are you?  

If you’re not sure of your grief literacy, try answering the three questions below:   

  1. What does grief feel like?
  2. Do you get over your grief?
  3. Is grief an emotion?

Let’s see how you did- the answers are below: 

  1. Feelings of grief vary widely from person to person.  
  2. There is no linear timeline for grief.  In fact, you don’t get over grief.  You move forward from grief.  
  3. Grief is not an emotion.  Rather, it is a container that holds all different types of emotions from feelings of loss.

If you were able to answer any of the above questions correctly, congratulations!  You are more grief literate than the average American… 


If you weren’t able to answer the questions correctly, know that you are not alone!

We live in a society that doesn’t know much about how to “do” grief. We lack grief literacy.

As a matter of fact, the whole concept of grief goes against our national narrative. 

You are familiar with our national narrative if you’ve ever watched a Disney movie.


The plotline goes like this:  The underdog works hard, pulls herself up by the bootstraps, and- against all odds- wins at the game of life. 


This narrative that our nation has adopted stands in stark contrast to some of the harsh realities of life.  


Logically, you know those stark realities- illness, personal loss, broken relationships, defeat, and death are all a part of life… but emotionally, it seems like life should be more smooth than it is.

When you lose a special relationship, a pet, a person, or our health- there is no victory in sight.

You look into an abyss of grief- feeling overwhelmed, confused, shame, and embarrassed. 


Embarrassed and shamed? 


Yes, you read that right.  I’d like to emphasize those two emotions.  At the end of a relationship or a terrible health diagnosis, embarrassment and shame are among the ‘normal’ emotions of grief.

If you’ve ever felt embarrassment or shame regarding a loss, know you aren’t alone...

From a cultural perspective, it makes ALL THE SENSE IN THE WORLD!

Whenever life causes you to be disconnected from society’s idealized norms, you may feel uneasy. 

This means when your life doesn’t match the Disney narrative- due to a health crisis, a difficult breakup, or an embarrassing family secret being exposed- it isn’t surprising if you feel some level of discomfort.   

It has been show that in Western society, illness and flaws are often seen as personal shortcomings or arising from personal inadequacies.

Therefore, in addition to feeling grief, it is common to also fear losing social acceptance.   When this occurs, grief is compounded by fear… which then leads to greater suffering.  

There are two types of suffering.

  1. Necessary suffering–  The first of the 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism is that LIFE IS SUFFERING.  Buddhism teaches that:

Suffering cannot be escaped. 


Suffering is part of life. 


Suffering is not a punishment. 


Suffering is part of being human.


In fact, suffering is a linking force between all humans that have come before us, are with us, and will come after us.  


2. Unnecessary SufferingWhen you try to grant yourself or another the power to not suffer life’s realities, you are chasing a rainbow, playing God, looking for a leprechaun… and asking for unnecessary suffering. 


Unnecessary Suffering is the desire for something to be different than it is.

Our society says that you shouldn’t suffer or if you do suffer, it should only be for a VERY short time while you are on the path to win against suffering.


That’s a fine story…


It’s not reality.

You are 100% guaranteed to experience loss in your life.  

In life- relationships, health, and appearances- don’t last forever. 

Grieving what is no longer is a natural response to the realities of life… 

However, trying to defeat the realities of life creates unnecessary suffering.  

To sum it all up: A lack of grief literacy creates greater misery.

Stay tune for the next blog post! I’m going to break down the components of grief and examine how you can heal your grief.

 In the meantime, are you ready to give therapy a go?  

I'm here to help!

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


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