6 Myths About Loss That Keep You From Healing

The Lies of a Powerful Villain

Great movies have great tension. Nothing delivers that tension like a great villain.

Darth Vader, The Joker, and Biff Tannen (Back to the Future anyone?), it doesn’t get any better than them. Okay, you can get a lot more menacing than Biff. I laughed out loud when I came across him on a top villain list.

Imagine there was a villain who was able to blind all of society to their true nature. This villain was able to ingrain their lies throughout all our culture, all our books, and all our movies. Their lies were so pervasive and persuasive that parents modeled and taught them to their children.

The children grew up fully convinced of the lies, and once they became parents, they modeled and taught them to their kids. The lies were passed down from generation to generation. This enabled the villain to run amuck, undetected, and unsuspected.

Such a villain exists. That villain is loss.

Our society has bought into the myths regarding loss so much that we never question their accuracy. Instead of helping us heal from our losses, these myths keep us trapped in our pain. Knowing what these myths are is a step towards the healing you yearn for.


The Top 6 Myths Surrounding Loss


1. Don’t feel bad.

As children we are constantly told not to feel the way we feel. We hate to see people hurting or upset, especially children. When my 1-year-old son is crying, I instinctively pick him up and try to soothe him saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay.”

And I should know better! Maybe it’s not okay, dad!

If you step back and think about it, we are constantly told, “don’t feel bad.” I would argue that much of marketing sends us that message. Don’t feel bad, buy our product to feel better.

Feeling sad after a loss is normal and natural. Yet we are constantly told not to feel that way.


2. Replace the loss.

“We will get you another dog.”

“You will find someone better. There are more fish in the sea.”

“You are young. You can have another child.”

This myth teaches us that relationships are replaceable. But they are not.

Yes, you can get another dog. You can find another partner. And you might be able to have another child.

If your heart is broken after a loss, the wound you carry won’t be healed by replacing that loss. Because every relationship is unique and irreplaceable.

Since every relationship is unique, so is every loss. To wholly give ourselves to another relationship, we need to first heal from the one we lost.


3. Time heals all wounds.

This damaging myth implies that we just need to wait for time to pass to heal our emotional pain.

Imagine someone getting a flat tire. Instead of fixing it or calling a tow truck, they decide to sit down and wait for the tire to re-inflate. They’ll be waiting for quite some time.

Or imagine someone breaking their arm and someone telling them, “Just give it time and it will be as good as new.”

Sounds ridiculous, right? Yet we buy into the lie that time alone can heal a wounded heart. As a father who has experienced the death of a child, I can assure you firsthand that isn’t true.

You might learn to hide your wound better, even if it’s a deep one. But it won’t heal. It just looks different.

Time itself does not heal. It is the correct actions that you take within time that heals.


4. Grieve alone.

“Give him some space.”

“She needs to be alone.”

This myth teaches us to isolate ourselves and bottle up our emotions.

Even if you never remember someone telling you to “grieve alone,” you likely withdraw from others after experiencing a loss.

The result of grieving alone is isolation. It results in feeling like we must face our pain alone.

Our wounds come from the loss of relationships, or losses that occur within relationships. True healing comes in the context of relationships, too.


5. Be strong (for others).

This myth teaches us that to be sad is a sign of weakness. That we need to pretend we are okay, even when we are not.

I’ve got to be strong for my spouse, for my kids, for my fellow first responders, etc.

By acting strong, we teach others to lie when they are hurting. To deceive themselves and others about their emotions.

True strength is being emotionally honest. That gives you a chance to truly heal. It gives others permission to be honest about their feelings, too.


6. Keep busy.

This myth implies that distracting yourself from your painful feelings will help you heal. Keep busy until time brings healing to you.

You can drive yourself to exhaustion, but your loss and your wounds will still be with you. Busyness and distraction won’t heal you either.


Reject the Myths and Take This Step Instead

Have you bought into some or all of these myths? It can be disheartening to realize that our approach to handling loss for all our lives has been damaging rather than helpful.

If you want to find healing from a loss in your life, a great place to start is by reading The Grief Recovery Handbook. It will explain more about the myths, help you understand loss better, and teach you how to heal from losses that you’ve experienced.

Loss will always be a villain. But you can heal from it by taking small, correct actions over time. Check out the book today. 

Are you struggling with loss & grief, anxiety, or burnout and live in Ohio? I can help. Reach out to me at Oak Harbor Counseling Services. My office is conveniently located in northern Columbus. You can learn more about my counseling practice here or email me at [email protected].

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Brent Flory

Brent is a licensed professional counselor in Columbus, Ohio. He works with adults and adolescents, and specializes in helping people who are struggling with anxiety, loss & grief, and burnout.
In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his family, playing basketball, and eating too much ice cream.

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