Reprinted from Threads newsletter Summer 2012
Myth 1: Grief and mourning are the same thing.
Myth 2: There is a predictable and orderly progression to the experience of grief.
Myth 3: It is best to move away from grief and mourning than toward it.
Myth 4: Tears expressing grief are only a sign of weakness.
Myth 5: The goal is to “get over” your grief.
The Volunteer Family Guides (VFGs) are an integral part of Threads of Life’s family support program. Our unique program of one-on-one peer support was the first of its kind in the world. Volunteers partake in an intense training over several days to develop the knowledge and skills to be able to offer support to other families. Ongoing training is held for the VFGs through monthly teleconferences. [In the spring of 2012], Karen Simmonds, Grief Educator and Counsellor, offered the topic of the social aspects of grief. The subject resonated with the VFGs as they understood only too well the myths of grief and mourning. All remembered very clearly, those well-meaning family and friends who offered placating words that were meant to be comforting. However, phrases such as “He’s in a better place now” and “Tears won’t bring her back” do not provide comfort and certainly not an understanding of what a family impacted by tragedy has experienced.
The training teleconference once again reaffirmed to the VFGs what they already know because they have “been there,” “get it” and are now willing and able to provide that listening ear to a family in need. As one VFG said, sometimes the only response to the innocent question of “How are you?” is a simple and honest “I am.”
All we can offer to others is our honesty and the willingness to do our best to walk alongside them as they journey from victim to survivor.
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