Grieving in Your Own Way: Debunking Myths

Dr. Suzanne Engelman

California Licensed Psychologist PSY7977
Board Certified in Biofeedback
Certified Thanatologist
Certified Animal Assisted Therapist

30100 Crown Valley Parkway
Suite # 17C
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Office Phone:  (949) 460-4908 
FAX:  (949) 248-0421
Confidential email:
Suzanne R. Engelman, PHD, BCB, FT
  1. Grieving is UNLIKE getting over an illness:  We do not heal from grief like we heal from a cold—we do not get over it completely in a few days or months.
  2. All bereaved persons DO NOT grieve in the same way: There is a lot of variation in styles of grieving. For example those who experience instrumental grief, may get busy doing activities; those who grief expressively, may cry or want to talk about their feelings.  Cultural variations, and variations in the length and intensity of grieving may all occur. There is no one right or wrong way to grieve.
  3. There is NO one length of time to grieve: You do not “get over” your loss in one year. One who has lost a child unexpectedly may never really “get over” the loss. One whose spouse died an ambiguous death from Alzheimer’s disease, may have a relatively shorter grief response, insofar as the loss of the “true” person has been dying for years. Generally, intense grieving may last from 3-12 months, but some people may continue to experience grief for two years or more.
  4. Avoiding the pain of grief prolongs the grief: Avoiding the pain associated with grief can have negative consequences including physical problems, anxiety, depression and more complicated grief. It is important have periods of time that you allow yourself to focus on your grief, honor the amount of time you need to grieve, and not judge yourself or allow others to judge you in how you grieve.
  5. The intensity and length of your grief DOES NOT reflect how much you loved the deceased: As indicated above, some grief through activities like exercise, working, or visiting the grave site or talking to the deceased.  It is ok to have periods of time to NOT think about the deceased, and this is not a reflection of the amount of caring you had for the deceased.
Suzanne R. Engelman PHD, BCB, FT ( is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Laguna Niguel.