Why We're Bad at Grieving
Everyone experiences the death of a loved one, but we are really bad at grieving. One of the things that stands out about humans versus other mammals is the fact that we are consciously aware that we will die. However, we spend our lives trying to ignore this fact. Anthropologist Ernest Becker proposed that all human behavior helps us to avoid the inevitability of death. According to this theory it makes sense that we as humans would be completely destroyed when faced with the death of someone close to us. If our goal is to deny death, then why would we spend time learning about how to cope with it?
No one is willingly consuming grief resources when they are not grieving. If there is an article on grief on the cover of a magazine, you’re probably not going to read it unless you’ve recently endured a death. Though you may only associate “grief” with death, you may have benefited from the article if you had recently had some other kind of loss.
From what I have experienced with my grieving clients in my private practice in Asheville, there are a few “grief tips” that seem to have leaked into their consciousness. I hear people say “I know I shouldn’t make any major changes for a year.” And now that I think about it, that seems to be the only helpful one! From others I’ve heard “I should be over this by now” and “I don’t want to have to ask for help.” People don’t want to feel like a burden to their friends and family. And a lot of times their friends and family don’t know how to help them because they too have been living in the denial of death and don’t necessarily want to or know how to be around someone who is grieving.
If you are still reading this article you are probably looking for grief resources yourself right now. You’re wandering into a new wilderness, uncharted territory you somehow always knew existed, but never had to venture into until now. Have compassion for yourself. You are biologically designed to avoid death and thinking about death. Just because death is a common experience doesn’t mean you should know how to grieve or know what to expect. This loss in your life means your consciousness allowed you a detour. To pull off the road of denying death and to veer off the path for a little while and find the resources that will help you get through it. That’s how you found this article. Grieving requires a person to slow down for a period of time, have patience with yourself. You will be back on track soon enough, but don’t be surprised if the scenery has changed a bit. What you learn during your grief journey will help you adapt to the changed life ahead of you.