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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1989 Jun;57(3):349-57.

The myths of coping with loss.


Drawing from theory and clinical lore, we consider how individuals are assumed to cope following irrevocable loss. Several assumptions are reviewed reflecting beliefs concerning the grieving process. Specifically, we examine the expectation that depression is inevitable following loss; that distress is necessary, and failure to experience it is indicative of pathology; that it is necessary to "work through" or process a loss; and that recovery and resolution are to be expected following loss. Although limited research has examined these assumptions systematically, available empirical work fails to support and in some cases contradicts them. Implications of our analysis for theoretical development and research are explored. Finally, we maintain that mistaken assumptions held about the process of coping with loss fail to acknowledge the variability that exists in response to loss, and may lead others to respond to those who have endured loss in ways that are unhelpful.

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