The death and funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has created a sense of national loss and grief. For many, who have lost loved ones during the past few years, their own pain has returned. Living with grief is a new burden that so many leared cruely and suddenly during the recent pandemic.
The outpouring of emotion and love for our Queen has brought together many who did not know how much they had in common. It has also made those who are in grief experience a broad range of emotions that, once again, they were not prepared for or expecting.
Living with grief is like living with a medical condition. You certainly know you have it, but some days are better than others. On occasion, there are even days where, briefly, you forget you have it. Perhaps time with friends or a family member took you to a place of joy, happiness even contentment. Sadly, we often then replace these with a sense of shame or guilt when we notice that we’ve spent a few hours with our grief out of focus.
Ideas to help when you’re living with grief
We each cope with grief in different ways and often, those around us, don’t know how to support us. The first step is to understand you are not responsible for how they feel. You are not required to make other people feel better about your loss. If you are able, let those close to you know what you need from them; it might be as simple as saying ‘I’m not sure how I feel day to day at the moment, but knowing I can call on you for a chat is really helpful.’ You may feel more like telling them ‘Please understand, my grief is not something you need to fix. I’m working through it. Knowing you’re here is enough.’
Make time, every day, to write about the person you’ve lost. When you’re living with grief, some days you might feel like writing about the wonderful memories you have of them. On other days, you might want to express your anger with them for leaving you here, without them. Writing these feelings down, getting them out of your head and onto a page, can be very theraputic.
No more comparing yourself to others.
How you grieve and for how long, has nothing to do with anyone else or their experience. We tend to look at how other people grieve and then tell ourselves we ‘should’ be coping as well as they are. In truth, you are not seeing their reality. You have no idea how they are coping in private. Stop looking at the way other people behave and allow yourself to experience your grief, your way.
Avoid staying under the covers if you can. There will be days where you feel no reason to get up or go out. That’s okay. You are allowed to feel these days for what they are. However, it’s important to notice if these days take over your week. There is no long-term comfort to be found in this type of isolation, so pushing through this after a day or two is important for your mental health. If you’re noticing it is feeling harder to push through, reach out to one of the organisations there to support you. Most are free and all are helpful and caring.
Organisations helping those living with grief
There are many organisations around the UK who are here to support people through grief and loss. Many of these were started by people who had not found the support they needed. Several are charities who depend on donations to continue their work. I’ve listed a few below and will come back to this post and add more as I become aware of them.
Child Berevement UK – helping families when a child dies. https://www.childbereavementuk.org/
The Good Grief Trust – help & hope in one place. https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/find-support/
Dying Matters – a campaign from Hospice UK to help everyone have a dignified end of life https://www.hospiceuk.org/our-campaigns/dying-matters
Macmillan Cancer Support offer a huge range of support services to support you https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/supporting-someone/coping-with-bereavement