Sometime in our lives we are all faced with bereavement. If we think about it we either think bereavement will never happen to us or we’ll cope when or if it happens. When we lose a loved one the bereavement throws us into a world of grief. It’s a place that is confusing and painful bringing us unhappiness. Many of my clients do not understand the grief they are experiencing Continue reading
Bereavement or loss is something that we all face at some time in our lives. This can be through the death of someone we are close to or our loss of health or job or a miscarriage. As it is a subject that is not often openly talked about, we have little opportunity to learn about death or loss. We only begin to understand how people are affected by grief, when we are faced with it. Often when people are grieving they will feel isolated. The can feel like they are the only one that feels the way they do and it can seem difficult to know what is ‘normal’. In addition families and friends do not know how to respond or deal with the bereaved. Continue reading
Serious loss is something we will all experience at some point of time in our lives. This may be because of the death of a loved one or it may be circumstances such as miscarriage or loss of a job. Sometimes we do not experience loss or bereavement until later in life and have had some opportunity to learn about death and how people are affected by grief. However, whenever we experience loss or bereavement, we often do not know ‘how to grieve’ or how we should respond to our loss. Continue reading
Losing your Mum through death is a difficult grieving journey whether you are young or old. The death of your Mum ended her life but it does not stop your relationship or love with her. For some the mourning of their mum never ends. Continue reading
Spring is here! Trees are beginning to turn green, gardens are full of blue and yellow flower and lambs are being born. New beginnings in nature are beginning to happen. It’s therefore an ideal opportunity to reflect on your own life and begin to think about your new beginnings. But before you do this, think about your life transitions. Have you let go of the past?
Miscarriage can be devastating
Miscarriage is often an uncomfortable word and one that people do not like to hear or talk about. Yet it happens to every 1 in 4 women. Almost no-one sees a miscarriage coming and it can come as a terrible blow to women, especially as there is often an unexplained reason for it. Women not only have to deal with the physical symptoms of a miscarriage but also the emotional loss of their baby. Coping with miscarriage is a difficult process and it takes time for women to deal with it and come to terms with it.
One day you are looking forward to your pregnancy and then suddenly that is all taken away from you and you are left with an empty body. Often the miscarriage is not detected until the woman’s first scan. She is expecting to see a foetus on the scan and just hears the words ‘we can find no heart beat’. Faced with a silent miscarriage is shocking and totally unexpected. Having the strength to walk out and seeing other Mum’s to be is just the beginning of your heart breaking journey. However, dealing with your emotional impact of pregnancy loss is important for both you and your partner. Continue reading
When we speak of bereavement and grieving in our Western Culture people often feel uncomfortable and tend to avoid the subject. Clients often report to me that they find they cannot talk of the dead person to friends or colleagues. It is almost as though they are not allowed to carry on thinking of the deceased person to the point that if they do, other people find it embarrassing. In Western Society there is social pressure for the bereaved to grieve quickly and quietly. These pressures, as Harris (2010) says, constricts the experience of grief rather than support it. These restrictive ways of dealing with grief can create further stress to clients as they are worried to how they are perceived by family and friends.
Grieving at the beginning
I feel we could learn a lot from other societies who place family and community at the forefront of their values. When I worked in Cameroon, a member of the village where I was staying died. Immediately the women started wailing. They were allowed and encouraged to openly express they sadness at their loss. This continued for 3 days. People from nearby villages and relatives from afar visited the village to see the deceased body. The funeral was held with over 500 people attending. The family were never left alone during this period or for a long time after. Our workers openly spoke of the dead person and told us how we could as ‘Westerners’ (who were visitors to the village) could support the family through their grief. What a different experience compared to our country. In UK you are allowed up to 3 days bereavement leave from work. It feels as though people prefer you not express your grief in public and society prefers you step back to ‘normality’ after the funeral.
And a year on….
Whilst in Cameroon I also experienced the one year after death party. The villagers held a massive party and toasted the dead person. They poured alcohol at the dead person’s door to let the dead person’s spirit drink it. They then spent all evening talking fondly of the dead person and supporting the grieving family. It was a touching experience. What a different experience towards grief compared to our society. On anniversary death days in Western Society, people outside of the family do not want to know. Some outsiders cannot even understand why it is a difficult day to get through. ‘It’s just another day’ I have heard in the past.
Talking therapy helps
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. It is a personal experience. From experience with clients, I would say the first year is worse. Yet for some the first year is just the beginning of their grief journey and it can get worse for them. It is common after losing a loved one is that you need to find sense of what you are feeling and need to talk and talk about the same thing. Few people are willing to hear. You can experience numbness, low self-esteem, anger, sadness. If you are suffering from grief, counselling may help you to come to terms with your grief. Sometimes talking to someone who is not involved in the bereavement can be beneficial.
What can we learn?
We could learn a lot from other cultures on how to deal with grief. Let’s start by allowing people to express their grief. Accept their sadness not criticize it. Let’s learn how to carry and support our family and friends rather than asking them to conform to our way of grieving or society’s way.Let’s listen to them and not be irritated that we have heard that story before. Let’s be compassionate friends to each other and help our friends and family through their grieving process. It’s only a start but an encouraging one.
If you would like to learn more how to support a grieving person through a bereavement, have a look at this blog post. It includes things not to say!
Hazel Hill can provide support through online counselling or counselling 1:1 in Sheffield. She has a specific expertise for those who need support for bereavement.
Harris, D (2010), Oppression of the Bereaved: A Critical Analysis of Grief in Western Society, MEGA Journal of Death and Dying, Issue: Volume 60, Number 3 pgs: 241 – 253