The phrases “you will not get over the loss of a loved one” and “you will grieve forever” come from the world-renowned book “On Grief & Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. and David Kessler. I am thankful these powerful souls studied death, grief, and healing.
I believe these phrases are often taken out of context and thought to mean you can never have a wonderful life again. I see the phrases posted and chanted as a never-ending mantra that can hold people back from their best life after loss. I misunderstood the phrases until I read the book, and I highly recommend it to everybody. I wish I would have read it sooner on my own journey from loss back to joy.
I recently spoke at a national loss support conference. I asked if anybody had ever heard the phrase “You will never get over it.” Almost everybody nodded their head yes. Then I held up a copy of the book “On Grief & Grieving” and asked for a show of hands from those who had read the book. Not one person even moved. As I told them about what I will explain to you, everybody’s eyes lit up with hope.
Please read the book or refer to my book excerpts below.
Page 7 – “The stages have evolved since their introduction, and they have been very misunderstood. The five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost.”
Page 10 – “Think about the idea that you can’t get over someone. It is more that you learn to live with the loss and not forget the person.”
Page 65 – “Today in our “shut up, get over it, and move on” mentality, our society misses so much, it’s no wonder we are a generation that longs to tell our stories.”
Page 203 – “Our society places enormous pressure on us to get over loss.”
Page 206 – “If you do not take the time to grieve, you cannot find a future in which loss is remembered and honored without pain.”
Page 225 – “I believe that grief and its unique healing powers take us from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. We do not get over our loss, we don’t find recovery; we may find renewed meaning and enrichment for having known our loved one.”
Page 230 – “The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to.”
Page 231 – “With the power of grief comes much of the fruits of our grief. We are allowing the power of grief and grieving to help us heal and live with the one we lost. That is the miracle of grief.”
I feel the authors want the bereaved to ignore anybody telling them to get over your pain and grief. I think they give us assurance we can move on to a meaningful enriched life on our own terms and time.
I was never in denial and I didn’t bargain. Although anger and depression once took over my life, they don’t any more. I have fully accepted my loss. I will never stop missing my child or cherishing him. I focus on the best memories. I have compassion for others. I nurture peace, goodness, love, and fun in my life. My passion is telling my story to help others. I am open to learning forever.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. died in 2004. I recently heard David Kessler on his http://www.grief.com website say in a video “happiness and healing is possible.”