National Grief Awareness week is 2 – 8 December. It is an annual event organised by the Good Grief Trust, a UK charity run by the bereaved for the bereaved. Their aim is to encourage everyone to have an open, honest and straightforward dialogue about grief. The idea is to help ease the pain and make life a little bit more bearable for these experiencing the grieving process. As Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman Statesman) said, “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief”.
There are approximately 650,000 deaths in the UK each year. So, at some point we will all be faced with the death of someone close to us. And the recent pandemic has, for some of us, meant we have had to face this experience in less than ideal times. The awareness week has several key messages to hope those who are bereaved and those close to them.
Distance shouldn’t mean we can’t share our grief. The pandemic has meant that the bereaved have not been able to reach out to family and friends for a much needed human connection. But, by using technology, distance should not prevent us from being there for others and sharing our grief.
Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I am not grieving. The bereaved often feel they have to mask their grief from family, friends and colleagues, so as not to burden them. If you know someone has experienced a loss, look out for them, check they are OK. They may seem alright, they may seem back to normal, but deep inside they could be struggling and would appreciate a chat or your help and understanding.
Say their name, I’m thinking about them anyway. You may be afraid to mention the person’s name who has died. We worry that this may upset our friend or family member, but it is normally the opposite. By remembering them and talking about them you are helping to share your love and affection for that person. This is important and will let those grieving to know that you will help to keep their memory alive.
There is no one face of grief. Grief does not discriminate, it is very likely we will all be affected by a bereavement regardless of age, faith, culture and wealth. Specifically, we need to help all minority groups who are often stigmatised and help to support anyone, anywhere who needs it.
There is no set time to grieve. Some say that you get over grief or eventually move on. While the effects of grief will lessen over time you never really get over a loss. Once the practical parts of a bereavement, such as a funeral, are over, things get back to normal. But this is often the time when the bereaved most need support, when they can feel most alone and isolated.
I think Terri Irwin (Australian Naturalist) put it very well when she said, “Grief is never something you get over. You don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘I’ve conquered that; now I’m moving on.’ It’s something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honour the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity”.
So if you know someone who has been bereaved, lend an ear or a thoughtful message and be there for them. Hypnotherapy has several techniques that can help those struggling with a recent loss. If you or someone you know could benefit from hypnotherapy then contact me.