My Grief Care

Misconceptions About Grief

12 Episodes

Episode 6 : Why Do Grieving People Get the Message They Shouldn’t Be Sad?


Episode Notes

Why Grievers Get the Message It's Not Okay to be Sad

We live in a society that is both afraid of death and afraid of unpleasant emotions. We welcome good feelings, but we often tell people to stop when the feelings are negative.

One of the misconceptions that grieving people can believe is that we aren’t supposed to feel sad.

How often did you hear “Don’t cry.” or “Don’t feel bad.” while growing up and even as an adult?

People are uncomfortable with sad feelings, so they try to talk us out of them. If I had a dollar for every time during my life someone told me with their words “don’t feel bad or don’t be sad, I’d be rich ….”  And if you have children, you have probably said it to them many times too.

After my husband died, I heard this many times.  People may not say the words “Don’t feel bad” but that’s what they meant when they said “ at least you had a good marriage,” “at least he went fast”, “or he’s in a better place”, or one of my favorites “God will never give you more than you handle.”

Really, like that was going to take away my sadness and pain? I don’t mean to be overly critical of people saying these things to us, as their intentions are usually good – and, quite frankly, these are the kind of things I said to people before I lost my husband.

The problem with these comments is they continue to feed us the idea that we shouldn’t be feeling bad —- that there is something wrong with us if we do feel this way.  

And the problem with this thinking, which most of us have learned since childhood, is that it can lead to stuffing our emotions or denying them since we think it’s wrong or weak to feel this way.

And that’s how we become stuck.

For emotional health, ALL feelings should be experienced and expressed.

Listen to me really carefully.

ALL feelings should be experienced and expressed.  

And that might be hard for you. We talk in another episode about how grievers are award-winning actors.  We act okay because that is what people want to see. Can you relate to that? How can you experience grief and heal if you deny the feelings? You can’t.

So the misbelief is that we aren’t supposed to feel bad but the TRUTH is  “It’s okay not to be okay.“ 

And if you have children who are experiencing a loss, it’s really important that you help them get in touch with and express all their feelings.  I know it’s hard to watch them hurt.  But we have to feel the hurt to heal. And we cover more about grief in children in another series


ALL feelings are welcome and should be fully experienced.  Stop pretending you’re fine. Acknowledge your pain and share the truth. Lean into all feelings. Here are your STEPPING STONE questions that I would like you to ponder:


  • Who do you need to stop pretending with? Try telling one person you trust the truth about what you are experiencing.
  • Next time the uncomfortable feelings come don’t stuff them, try to allow them, and embrace them.
  • Take a look at the ball of emotions image below and see what emotions you have experienced and name them or write them down.  We use this when working with our clients because it helps them get to their core by better describing their feelings. 

This graphic, developed by grief expert, H. Norman Wright, shows a picture of the wide range of emotions that people may feel when dealing with a loss.  If you can identify with any (or all!) of the feelings in this image, you are NORMAL!

“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it in full.”  Marcell Proust