At BFO-MR, a significant aspect of our work is centred around grief literacy. For us that means educating our community about grief to encourage empathy and understanding.
We talk about the importance of language and advocate that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, only your way. There are no five stages or a finish line to cross. Grief isn’t something that needs fixing – it’s a natural response to loss.
The inclusion of Prolonged Grief Disorder in the DSM-V feels like a step backwards in grief literacy and we have major concerns for what it means for folks who are grieving. It risks pathologizing what is a universal human experience. It has the potential to make people feel like they’re “doing it wrong” or that there’s something wrong with them if they continue to grieve 12 months after a death.
We acknowledge that there are people for whom the grief journey is complicated, and we fully support the need for greater understanding where that is the experience. But it’s also important to note that this is the experience of approximately 10-15% of the population.
That leaves at least 85% who are now seeing in national media that if they’re still grieving their person after a year, they could possibly have a disorder. Continuing bonds tell us that it is typical and healthy for a person to grieve for the rest of their lives. There is NO TIMELINE for grief.
We need to talk more about grief and what it can look and feel like. We need to acknowledge there is no right or wrong way to do it. There are also no quick fixes that the promise of a diagnosis might imply. When we have the ability to recognize and understand grief, we can do more to support ourselves and each other.
We can create support networks built on the transformational knowledge that we’re not alone in our experience.
Grief needs to be normalized, not pathologized.
There is no timeline for grief.