I often think as the leaves start falling off the trees and the skies get darker and more grey, it makes the process of grieving for the bereaved more difficult.
When the sun shines or the sky is blue, it can be a comfort to feel warmth on your skin and feel alive even when painful events have taken over. It’s more difficult when everything else is dark around you and can seem as if the world carries on regardless, especially when Christmas – a time normally associated with celebration – is just around the corner.
I’ve worked with the bereaved since I started my therapeutic career over 10 years ago and you may think it strange that my work now focuses on helping people to “sparkle”. How can you “sparkle” when someone dies? It may even feel as if your sparkle dies with the person you loved. I reassure my clients that you don’t lose your sparkle, it just hides for a while. It will resurface when you are ready.
The outside world struggles with grief. When someone dies your neighbours, colleagues and sometimes even friends will duck for cover mainly because they don’t know what to say. I’ve actually known people cross the street to avoid a grieving person. The reality of death itself also acts as an unwelcome reminder that we are human and we will share the same fate. Death is inevitable which means that grieving comes to all of us.
Loss is not always a physical death but experienced as redundancy, relationship breakdowns, illness, injury and much more. We grieve in different ways. Some of what I’ve written below may apply to all, some not. Take what you need and leave the rest.
1) Talk about it.
I often hear people say when someone dies you should “get over it” and even avoid talking about it, especially after a period of time. Talking about it is one of the most effective ways of finding your way through grief, even if you simply identify with someone else helpful actions you can take to safeguard your well-being during this crisis, especially if sleep has become an issue.
Another myth around grief is that it’s not natural to keep a person “alive” through memories and time spent. In their book “Continuing Bonds” Klass, Silverman and Nickman state that rather than cut ties with the person who has died, healthy resolution of grief can include maintaining “a presence and connection with the deceased”. They acknowledge that the bereavement process isn’t so much about “letting go” of their loved one but renegotiating the meaning of their loss. Finding new ways to reconnect with someone who has died can be a healthy and positive experience, whilst acknowledging their passing. Have a think about creating a memory box or dedicating time each year to honour those you’ve loved and lost. If its a relationship breakdown, think about how you can take something positive from the relationship even if its only that you’ve learnt something of yourself.
3) Look after yourself.
Feeling low is a natural part of the grieving process as is, in some cases, associated relief. If a person has been unwell for some time you may feel guilty for feeling “glad” they have died if only to ease their suffering. Be compassionate towards yourself and spend time taking care of your needs as well as others who are grieving alongside you. If you feel “stuck” or uncomfortable with the way you are grieving you may find it helpful to share your experience. Cruse Bereavement Care have a national helpline you can call for more help. In the meantime, develop a toolkit for coping which facilitates eating and sleeping well until your sparkle returns.
Until next time,
p.s. I offer a range of free resources including similar Soul Survival Kit articles. You can find out more here. You can also receive weekly top tips designed to help you rediscover and reclaim your “inner sparkle” when you sign up to my free mailing list. As a mailing list member you’ll also gain exclusive access to the Members Area and a range of inspiring downloads.
information provided on this page is open to individual interpretation and may not be suitable for everyone. It is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team. Please speak to your doctor before deciding upon any form of action which may affect your health or if you have any concerns about your health and wellbeing.
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