You are currently viewing Episode 37 – Grief Myths

Episode 37 – Grief Myths

Today we are examining some babyloss myths in honor of Grant Imahara, one of the hosts of Mythbusters and an amazing scientist who recently passed away. You will learn how to use the scientific method to really question things you have been told about grief. 

If you don’t like the results you are getting when you believe these myths, I’m going to show you how to let some of them go.

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Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash


Hey guys, what is up? How are we doing out there? We are halfway through September. It’s crazy. The pumpkins are coming out everywhere and I kind of love it.

I am a cold weather person. Maybe it’s ’cause I grew up in Canada, but I love it when the apple cider and the pumpkins and. And the sweaters start coming out for sure. Today we have a really great topic for you and really excited to talk about myths. Did any of you guys watch MythBusters? It was a show on Discovery Channel where they would test all kinds of myths and they would blow things up, and it was just, A really, really interesting show.

And on that show there was a host named Grant I Mahara and he was an amazing scientist and he made all these robots and he was really cool and so fun to watch. And recently he passed away at just 49 years old. And you know, we’ve had a lot of things happen in 2020 and when someone like a celebrity passes away, it’s kind of an interesting thing, but.

I just was thinking about him and thinking about MythBusters and I kind of started thinking about grief myths and things that we believe about grief and I. I wanted to test them a little bit. So this episode’s a little bit in honor of Grant and all the good things and the fun times we had watching him and learning from him.

So I wanted to start by talking about the scientific method, and if you don’t already know, I am. I’m pretty much a huge nerd and I’m totally okay with that. Um, I loved, I actually thought I would be a chemical engineer at one point. Um, I really love chemistry, love science, and my kids love science too.

And so let’s talk about the scientific method for just a minute. Some of the steps in the scientific method are we observe, right? So we see what’s going on and we see something happening, and then we question it. Then we’re gonna have to research, which means we’re gonna have to figure out what’s going on.

And then hypothesize, which we know, if you all remember from. I don’t know. Middle school science is an educated guess, right? So we’re trying to figure out what’s gonna happen next based on what we’ve already learned. And then we need to experiment and test that hypothesis and come to a conclusion and then do a report on it.

And sometimes we have to test more than one time to make sure that the results we are getting are repeatable and consistent. And, That’s what I want you to learn how to do. So when we talk about grief myths, a lot of times we just accept these myths as facts. But if you’ve been following me at all, we know that all our thoughts are optional.

So our brain is going through a similar process to this scientific process all the time, but we’re not really even aware of it, right? We’re always taking in information and then testing it and coming to conclusions. Except our tests in our brain are. Pretty biased. So they are not really very scientific.

So right now, in fall 2020, there are so many people who believe things about the government, the environment, the coronavirus, the conspiracy theories. I don’t know you guys, I don’t, I try to stay away from too much of that stuff, but some of it is just, it’s almost hilarious and terrifying, like at the same time.

It just depends on, How you’re feeling that day. But the thing we can learn so much during this time, if you are able to take a step back, is how people always find evidence for what they think is true. I. And then they just jumped to that last step of the scientific method and share their observations, right?

Like, you know the people I’m talking about, they see a headline and they just jump to a conclusion and it can be so distressing. I. So if that’s you, if you’ve been struggling with a lot of this stuff going on, my heart goes out to you, it’s gonna be okay. But let’s use this process for things like that.

And then let’s look at some of these myths about grief and specifically about. Baby loss, grief, and let’s study them a bit. When we are in scientist mode or in coaching mode or self-coaching, we want to have a little bit of space. We want to have the space to question things and to really examine them without a whole lot of drama around it.

And this is a really amazing skill to do, to be able to examine what’s going on in your brain. Without judgment and just see what’s going on. Of course, what I share on here is always my own thoughts, and you are free to disagree, but I really encourage you to look inside your own experience and see if some of these myths might be holding you back.

Because as a coach, what I want to do is push you outside of what’s comfortable, and sometimes we get really comfortable with our own misery. We don’t wanna let it go, and we don’t wanna question it. I also really want you to think for yourself instead of just going with what you’ve been told or what you, you have observed in other people.

This is where you can gain freedom and confidence by questioning everything and only keeping the thoughts that serve you best on purpose. So let’s start with myth number one. Grief has a timeline and stages, so this is something that has been taught and accepted for many years, these five stages of grief, and people talk about them all the time.

They throw them out all the time. But the truth is, the five stages of grief were never meant for the loss of a child or even actually the death of anyone. It was for the diagnosis of a terminal illness. So all these stages, like anger, bargaining, denial, acceptance, all of those were not even applicable to losing a loved one.

So we just need to let go of those stages as anything that’s. Really gonna help us in our situation intellectually. You might already know this, like you might have already heard that those really don’t apply to grief and, and it’s, it’s not something that’s helpful, but underneath a lot of times we still believe it and then we want to rush through these stages or we think that we’re doing something wrong if we’re not moving through certain stages.

So I want you to try doing a brain dump on all your beliefs. So I want you to try doing a brain dump on all your beliefs about grief and timelines and just see if they’re serving you. This is one of the most powerful things I do with my clients, usually in the second session of my program because there is just so much in there that you can’t even see until we pull it out.

But once you can look at it, you can let some of those beliefs go. You’ve probably all seen the little cartoon that shows a nice organized line passing through the stages of grief. And underneath it says how I thought grief would be. And on the other side is a huge messy tangled scribble. And it says how grief really is.

And we can all relate to that. But I want you to take it one step further and just question if you have a belief that the messy tangled side is worse than the organized side. Because that’s where we create more pain for ourselves. If we can stop resisting the reality, that grief is all over the place, we can learn to allow it to just be what it is.

So I’m gonna say that one more time. Do you think that that messy scribble of grief is worse than a nice straight line of grief? What that looks like in practice is noticing what emotions you’re experiencing, checking in on your thoughts, and really, really questioning them. All right, mid number two, losing a child is the worst pain in the world.

How can we really know this? I am sure there have been studies and perhaps you could find some way to categorize emotional pain and suffering, but why? Why do we want to believe that our suffering is the biggest and the worst? Is there a prize for the most pain? You could argue that the love between a mother and her child is unique and very, very strong, and that is why the loss hurts so badly because the amount of grief is equal to the amount of love.

But that doesn’t mean that having to say goodbye is the worst. Some mothers don’t know where their children are. Some mothers take care of sick children. Some mothers watch their children make terrible choices, and they feel powerless to fix it. And we all probably have our own beliefs about what would be the most difficult, just as the mothers facing these different challenges would have their own beliefs.

Because the thing about grief is it is inherently self-centered and suffering is really self-centered. So your average teenager who got dumped thinks that the world has stopped and life will never be bright again. Like never, ever, ever. And she’s gonna wanna stay home from school and wear pajamas all day and cry a lot and let all her friends know how bad this really is.

So it’s totally understandable that bereaved parents do the same thing. Now, of course, I’m not equating a teenage breakup with burying your child, but what is the upside to believing you are suffering the worst pain on earth? The only one I can see is if you allow yourself to believe in how strong you are and how well you are handling something so difficult that you’ve been through a fire and you’re coming out the other side.

But comparison of pain never really comes from a place of love. This is not a competition. The best way to bust this myth is to just have compassion for all the humans, including yourself. We all walk steep lonely hills at times. Love says that we help each other along the way. Drop the judgment in the comparison, and just know that each person’s trial is unique to them.

And we are not them, so we’ll never really understand what their pain feels like, and that’s okay. All right. Our next myth, number three, grief is gonna teach you lessons. Grief doesn’t do anything to us. It doesn’t control us, and it definitely doesn’t just put knowledge into our minds. The Smith is especially painful to those in early grief because they’re hearing everyone around them telling them that they’re gonna grow from this and they don’t want to.

They want their baby back and believing that they should be learning something makes ’em feel even worse. It’s just not a helpful thought for many people. I am reminded of the summer right after I got married. I took a calculus class at B Y u thinking that. Getting it over with in six weeks would be great, except for two hours a day for those entire six weeks.

I sat in a room and listened to a student teacher talk about calculus, and I learned next to nothing. I could totally blame it on the teacher. He was not the best. But the thing about learning is that it’s on the student. No one could just upload information into your brain yet, unfortunately. So if I was not studying enough and I couldn’t do my homework, and I wasn’t prepared for the tests because I couldn’t figure any of this out, that was all on me.

And that’s just like grief. Your baby died. That is a circumstance that is out of your control. The way you feel in your experience of grief will come from what you are thinking about it, and then you will show up according to that feeling. If the result you want is to find the lessons, you totally can, but you can also live for years in your grief and still be angry.

You can still be inconsolable. You can still want to blame someone, and that person could be you. You might have learned nothing that you would deem as positive. If this strikes a chord with you, then know that it’s up to you. It’s in your control whether you learn anything from this experience and you don’t have to, but if you want to, then you have to do the work.

Grief alone can’t teach us anything. Our next myth, you’ll lose people close to you after loss. This one is really common and I hear it all the time, and it’s stated as a fact, like people just aren’t gonna show up for you. They are going to disappear. They don’t know how to support you. They will say hurtful things and you’ll have to cut them out of your life, or they won’t be able to handle you and they’ll just bail.

But none of that is true. The thing about relationships is we think it takes two to tango. But really relationships are all in our head. Our relationship is just our thoughts about another person. Our thoughts alone create our experience. And since grief is so self-centered, it has a lot of ideas about how people should show up.

While we are grieving, I call this a manual, it’s a set of rules we’ve made up, but the other person rarely follows that manual add in a very tender and sensitive grieving heart. And this myth is born. But how do you know you’ve lost someone? Did they stop texting? Did you stop going out together? What change that you have decided means the end of the relationship?

What did they do or not do? And how many times did they do it before it was over? That’s something you got to choose. Now, I know it doesn’t seem like it, and I’m sure you could tell me all about what happened and maybe the people you are still close to would totally believe your story of pain. But if that story is hurting you, I want to challenge you to reconsider it.

I don’t think I lost any friends in my grief. Were there people who I wished had shown up differently? Yes, absolutely. But here’s the thing. I like to believe the humans are all doing the best they can. And sometimes their best is not that great, but the more you can let them do and say what they do, the less pain for you.

And what an opportunity we have to learn to give people some grace. I remember walking through life in a fog of grief and not being able to show up the way I used to. New neighbors moved in and I was not there to welcome them or bring them cookies. People needed help and I couldn’t give it. I also forgot a lot of stuff like birthdays, and I feel like I still do, and I recognized that other people who didn’t know what I was going through may look at me and think I was not a great friend.

At that time, I was not showing up at my best, and so I gained perspective and I also saw that people often did not know what to say or what to do, and that was okay. It wasn’t always awesome, but I could see that it was about them and not me. The more compassion we can have for our friends and family, the more love we get to feel.

You probably had lots of people who didn’t do certain things when your baby died or on her birthday, but the ones you are upset about are the ones you thought should do something. That’s the manual I was talking about earlier. So what people say or do can’t break up a relationship. It’s what we think about them.

And if we decide we can’t have them in our lives anymore because they chose the same name as our angel for their living baby, and we are furious about it, that’s on us. And that is a true story I’ve heard multiple times. It doesn’t mean you have to keep people in your life who you don’t want to, but just question the Smith that you just lose relationships after loss like it’s a fact.

It’s not. I think I have gained more deeper and better relationships in my life since I lost two babies than I ever had before they died. Now there are so many other myths I want to talk about. But some are gonna get their own episodes. So watch for those in the future. And if you have a topic you want me to talk about here on the podcast, head over to Instagram and send me a dmm.

I’m at Amy dot Smooth Stones Coaching, and I’d love to help you with anything you’re struggling with. So our last myth is there is no cure for grief. A lot of my clients find themselves feeling very stuck. They can’t see anything getting better. And if you have gotten to a point where things are pretty good, most of the time still, we feel like at any time, grief would just knock us over with a wave, and that’s what most people believe that you’ll grieve your entire life.

Well, the first thing we need to study is the definition of grief. What does it mean to you? Does grief mean sadness? Does it mean missing your baby? Does it mean crying or shoving down your emotions with a whole bunch of chocolate? Does it mean wanting to stay in bed all day? You can’t really know if you are cured if you don’t diagnose a problem.

That’s the first part. The second part is what if grief is not a problem? In our society, we definitely think people should be happy most of the time, and that they should get over grief and get back to normal. But if grief is not an illness or an injury to be fixed, then does it need to be cured at all?

I would offer to you that feeling sad when your baby dies seems pretty natural to me. It seems like an appropriate response, and I think that with time and work, the grief will not go away, but it will evolve. At the beginning, grief is the enemy. We do want to cut it out of our hearts, but if we recognize the grief as love and learn to integrate it into our lives and our hearts, then grief just becomes our companion.

I named my business Smooth Stones after hearing a talk about grief being like a sharp, pointy rock that gets stuck in our shoe. It hurts so badly at first, but then it starts to break off the sharp edges, but it still hurts us often. Later, the stone becomes smooth and the foot becomes strong. The stone, instead of being painful, is now a beloved reminder of the one we miss.

Grief becomes a friend, not a disease. Mamas, you get to decide what you believe is true. All of this seems so emotional. But you can still follow that scientific method and use the self-coaching model to see what is happening in your own life. Question it, test it. Repeat the test hypothesize. Analyze if you have believed any of these things about grief.

I want you to think about them this week. Get really curious. Don’t judge yourself or your thoughts or your other friends who still believe these things. It’s all okay. I never want you to beat yourself up because of the things that you think. I just want you to know that you always have options and you always have power, but I do wanna challenge you to open up and see what you can find in your own self coaching.

I. Find any beliefs that are holding you back and let’s look at them. The progress you can make with a coach asking the right questions to figure this all out is 10 times faster than doing it on your own because we are often just too close to it. I’d love to see if you are a good fit for my program, where we dive into these beliefs and manuals and show you how to get unstuck, heal your relationships.

And get the confidence you need to be the mom you want to be to your living kids and your babies in heaven. There’s a link in the show notes that’ll take you right to my calendar. I only have a couple of spots left for new clients, so don’t wait. Thanks so much for being here. I appreciate you so much, and my heart goes out to you.

I think about you every day, and I love you, and I love your babies, and I will see you next time.

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