My last summer on Channel Four will be emotionally poignant to watch, but I will certainly tune in. I know it will be a challenging experience, as, like many others, I’ve witnessed a loved one succumb to a terminal illness. Nevertheless, I am determined to watch it, as I believe it’s crucial to openly discuss the topics of dying and bereavement. My pack of tissues will be by my side on the sofa.
From both personal experience and my interactions with clients, I’ve discovered that one of the most difficult aspects of navigating grief is the limited space to converse about the departed individual. Many people find it discomforting. iI’s almost considered a taboo subject, and this can lead to a sense of isolation in one’s grief. It can feel as though the deceased person is erased from existence. There’s an expectation to simply move on with life. However, this is far from the truth. When someone passes away, the relationship with them doesn’t cease to exist. Bereavement is a deeply personal and painful journey.
Part of accepting the loss of a loved one involves having the freedom to talk about that person and finding a way to come to terms with the grief.
Own experience of grief
In my early twenties, I encountered a sudden bereavement just before embarking on my journey as an aid worker. Within five months of the loss, I found myself in Cameroon, surrounded by colleagues who couldn’t comprehend my moments of sadness and were often uneasy when I discussed my recent loss.
One particular day remains vivid in my memory, a day when I was feeling exceptionally low. A local resident approached me and inquired about my sorrow. I shared my feelings with him, and he listened attentively. It was the first time someone had allowed me to openly discuss my bereavement. He went on to talk about the Cameroonian tradition of mourning and how they supported one another through the process of death. He then invited me to his dwelling and suggested we communicate with the spirits. I was initially skeptical, but a strong urge to connect with the departed person compelled me. He poured alcohol on the ground, and we said a prayer.
The sense of relief at being permitted to grieve was overwhelming. From that day onwards, I started writing to my dyloved one. Since it was a sudden loss, there was so much left unsaid, and writing became my therapeutic way of coping during that time.
It’s perplexing that other cultures openly discuss and even celebrate death, while we often shy away from it. The truth is, dealing with the aftermath of losing someone is often the most challenging part, but we cannot escape the fact that death is a universal reality.
I am deeply grateful to the five individuals who are about to provide us with insights into the process of dying, and I hope their work encourages more people to engage in conversations about death. Dying with dignity is a matter of great importance. ‘Dying Matters‘ is a significant charity as it raises awareness about the topics of dying, death, and bereavement. They are aiding our society in fostering open discussions about death, so we don’t leave it until it’s too late to address our own mortality and ensure that we all pass away with dignity. Their efforts include incorporating discussions about death into the national school curriculum, an initiative I wholeheartedly support.
I believe this program will challenge most people’s perspectives on the subject of dying. Let’s talk about dying and bereavemnet.
What are your thoughts? Will you be tuning in? Please don’t hesitate to share your opinions about the program below.
Hazel provides counselling in Sheffield and online. She specialises in bereavement and loss counselling.