It’s that time of year again; this week we’re asked to think about grief and how it may be impacting the people and our community around us. Grief Awareness Week is 2nd – 8th December and feels even more pertinent when we consider that Christmas, the time we’re supposed to be with family and other people we care about, is just around the corner.
Why Grief Awareness Week is important
As undertakers we know well that grief doesn’t end when the funeral is over. We know that someone can still need support months and even years after the person they cared about has died. Grief Awareness Week is important because it helps us to:
- understand that grief can be lengthy
- see that grief can be as individual as we are in the way that it takes hold of us
- remember the people around us that have experienced loss
- talk about and understand what we can do to help someone who is grieving
What would you like someone to do if you were grieving?
This weekend I was kindly invited by Rev Cassius Francis, to join the Sunday service at the Wesleyan Holiness Church Moseley. My presence at the service was to give our perspective on the importance of Greif Awareness Week. During the service Cassius discussed how difficult it is for people to talk about loss and grief and about how important it is to do so. He then asked us to talk to each other and say what we would like people to do if we ourselves were grieving. Having that moment to reflect reminded me of when my mother died and I smiled, remembering all the lovely stories that people shared about her. A great fear I had was that I would forget her, but hearing the stories was helping to keep her very much alive – if only in my head. In fact, it would be nice even 6 years later to hear the occasional story. And I wasn’t the only person in the room to feel this way.
Grief is a natural part of our life, we have to experience it, but if not approached well can result in long term mental health issues. Healthy grief is something that we can all help someone to achieve – we can’t cure it or stop it from happening, but we can all help; whether it’s by joining the person in some basic human rituals such as a ceremony when someone dies, or by recounting memories and stories, by offering a cup of tea instead of solutions, or a simple hug or touch of the hand. Often, helping is simply about being patient and just listening.
How you can can help
If you would like to know more about how you could help someone who is grieving, or would like some support yourself, here are are a few resources we have come across:
The Good Grief Trust is the organisation behind Grief Awareness Week – they have a great website which contains lots of information and ways to support people who are grieving – you can find them by clicking this link: The Good Grief Trust
A bereavement signposting website : ataloss.org.uk
thebereavementjourney.org – group sessions online or in person helping people explore their loss
Book: The Grieving Brain – The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss by Mary-Frances O’Connor Click here to read more about the book
Megan Devine – a psychotherapist specialising in grief who has written a book and produced podcasts, you can find Megan Devine’s information here.