Grief Awareness Week
This week is Grief Awareness Week. The loss of someone close to us is difficult to bear at any time, and the way that we process our emotions when someone dies is called the process of grieving. It can be different for everyone, and it can change over time.
We asked our Chaplains for some advice on dealing with feelings of grief in ourselves, and in others.
My friend has just lost someone dear to them, what should I say or do?
James: The first thing I would advise is just say something. Ignoring someone’s death is very hard for the person, as they may feel unloved or as if nobody cares. You might feel uncomfortable or worried about upsetting them, and that’s ok to feel like that- it just shows that you care about them. Simply saying ‘I was so sorry to hear about Bob’ or ‘I’m here for you if you want a hug or chat’ is a good start.
My loved one died a few months ago, but I still feel so sad about it. Will I ever get over it?
Julie: It often takes a few months just to recognise the depth of our grief and the journey takes time. Be kind to yourself, allow longer than you imagine and don’t be afraid to rely on others. You might feel that you ‘should’ have ‘got over it’ by a certain point. We are complicated humans, and sadly we can’t turn our emotions on and off like a switch. Your emotions will grow around your loss and the sadness at losing your loved one will still be there, but you will feel more able to cope with it. Give yourself the space to grieve: remember good times you had together, visit your favourite places, look at photographs, say their name to others. It’s ok to feel sad.
My mum feels uncomfortable when I talk about my dad as she has ‘moved on’ since his death. What should I do?
James: Speak to her about it, at a time when you are both calm and open to chatting. Explain that it helps you to remember him often and speak about him. Accept that you and she may have different ways of dealing with your grief, so you may have to meet somewhere in the middle.
I got very upset recently when somebody famous I was fond of died- what’s the matter with me?
Julie: Nothing is the matter with you. Grief is something you can feel for people you loved, people you knew a little, people you didn’t know well, and alternative ‘members of the family’ such as pets. When people in the public eye die it can remind us of the grief we feel for people who are close to us, and that can feel a little shocking as we weren’t expecting it. Allow yourself to feel those feelings, and accept that grief comes and goes in waves. This year and last year particularly, during the global pandemic, have been periods of national grieving for those people who have died of COVID and it’s ok for us to recognise that we are all feeling sad for those people and their families.
We hope these answers have been useful for you to read this Grief Awareness Week, and if you’d like to join us online for our virtual service of remembrance, Light Up a Life, on Sunday 5th December at 4pm you can watch the readings, music and light a candle with us on our Facebook page or YouTube channel.