Tag Archives: loss

Dear Grief…….

Dear Grief,

Bang, you came knocking on the door one day. You swept in pushing me over, changing my life forever. The one thing certain in life is that we are going to die. We know this. Nothing can prepare us for the loss of a loved one to death when you enter into our lives grief. You are hard to describe grief especially as everyone experiences you differently.

I can’t remember what I ate yesterday yet I can remember word by word that phone call when I first met you 26 years ago. ‘Dead? No.’ I cried, slumping to the floor. At that moment my world stopped. A wall of fog came up in front of me. I felt lost, frightened, confused and lonely. I could not imagine my life going on.  On the journey home, we stopped at the services and I just starred in the mirror looking at myself. I had to tell my reflection what was happening. I just froze and numbness hit me. Once home, the practical side of things took over and it was easy to focus on that. I even remember us laughing as a family. Laughter as such a sad time. How irrational you can be grief!

The funeral. I think I was there. I can’t remember the day. I only remember how you felt grief. You hurt. I could not breath. The pain was unbearable. It was even worse that having cerebral malaria. And that hurt!

As I prepared to go back to University to sit my exams, denial hit me. I could not accept that the loss had occurred. You’re good at that grief. Letting us deny what has happened. I remember a friend asking me how I was. ‘Numb’ I said. ‘I cannot believe it has happened’. ‘You’ve said it enough times’ he replied. ‘You should know by now’. At that moment, I realised I was alone with you grief. I was surrounded by people my age who had not experienced loss. They did not understand. Their live’s went on.

I became a robot. I got up every day. Sat my exams. I functioned. Friends slipped away and I withdrew into myself. Days I could keep you at bay grief. Some days you hit me when I least expected you.  Throughout that time, I felt useless. Reflecting back it is amazing to how I managed to carry on. I got that Master’s and before I know it, I was on my way for my first overseas assignment. I threw myself into my work. I kept that denial up. I was ok. I was superwoman.

Until one day a monster took over me. I still remember that day. I cringe at the friend who the anger was directed at. An overwhelming rage overtook me. And that anger stayed. I did not realise at the time but that anger stayed with me for over a year. Nothing was right. I blamed everyone apart from myself. Everyone else was the problem. At one stage, I was even angry at the person who left me. How dare they? If only they stayed at home that day. You know the drill grief. And then came the anger at myself. If only I went home the weekend before the death. If only I was a better person. If only……

If only someone sat me down and explained you grief, to me. If only someone took the time to listen to me. I am sure the grief journey would have less bumpy if I shared my grief and worked my way through it. Rather than keep stabbing in the dark and resisting you grief.

Two years later, I sank into a deep pit of depression. I was swarmed. I crumbled. I slowly lost my friends. Sadly most friendships have not recovered. Luckily someone picked me up and gave me that hug, and put me in right direction of help. Six months of help helped me crawl through that depression and start believing in life again. I accepted the grief. I was ready to move on. I could see my future. I knew I could start living my life.

Grief, what a journey we’ve had together. I would give up everything to have stopped that journey. But I have to admit, grief, that I have grown from our journey together. I would not be the person I am today without that journey. Some of the opportunities that came knocking on my door would’ve not happened if I wasn’t on your journey. You and I have our distance now grief. But you come knocking on my door sometimes. The birth of my son – a happy moment which you pushed your way into. What’s different now grief, is I allow that moment of unhappiness. I then look at where I am and those who are around me. I can then sit with you and let the happy memories flood in.

In the next blog post, this will look at things that I have learnt from grief and useful tips to help anyone experiencing grief through a loss.

Coping with loss and bereavement

Coping with loss and bereavement

Every time there is a significant change in our lives, such as loss and bereavement, we experience a range of feelings. It can be a confusing and frightening time. Understanding loss and bereavement can help with the grieving, and to understand what is happening. Coping with loss and bereavement is an important step forward.

The terms loss, bereavement, grief and mourning are explained below: Continue reading

Painful place called Bereavement

painful place called bereavementAll faced with bereavement

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

Six Steps to dealing with bereavement

six steps to coping with bereavementBereavement is often closed subject

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

What is empty nest syndrome?

what is empty nest syndromeEmpty nest syndrome
My friend’s (who I will call her Pippa) daughter (Chantal) is leaving home next week for university. In the last year Pippa has been counting down the days with dread. On one hand she is excited for Chantal as she steps out into her new adventure but on the other hand Pippa does want her to go as she knows she will miss Chantal. She recognises that she will have feelings of loneliness and grief and therefore will be suffering from empty nest syndrome. Continue reading

Dealing with loss or bereavment

grief quoteSerious 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

Grieving within Western Society

grievingConforming to Western Society

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.

Reference

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