National Grief Awareness Week – December 2nd – 8th
This year, National Grief Awareness Week aims to create a safe space for individuals to openly discuss their experiences with grief and loss, raising awareness about grief, and breaking down the barriers surrounding grief.
At the Beth Johnson Foundation, we know that everyone is different, and no two people will experience grief in the same way – there is no guidebook for grief. From numbness to anger, from disbelief to guilt, there’s no set pattern to the grieving process. But talking openly to others who have experienced bereavement can help you re-connect with people, reduce feelings of isolation, and provide support to build a life around your loss.
At our Bereavement Friendship groups, members often discuss how import it is to be able to talk about their loss, and how coming together to share their experiences has helped them to heal.
“It isn’t always easy to talk, I was raised with the idea that men aren’t allowed to cry and I felt like I was weak. So, I didn’t know who to talk to. At first, I thought that I would probably feel more comfortable talking to a woman, they are more understanding. But I know now that we all feel our emotions and that men do have their softer side, we need to learn how to show it; to become more comfortable expressing our feelings. Knowing that there are others out there who feel like me, who understand what I’m going through, makes me feel less alone. After our meetings I feel like I’ve been emptied – in a good way. My sadness feels lighter somehow.” Steve.
“When I am here, I know its ok to share the things that go around my head. No one looks at me like I’m not normal or get embarrassed if I cry. I feel safe in this group, I can let my grief out and that helps me to keep moving forward every day. I don’t know what I would do without you all!” Jane.
We asked our members what they wish more people understood about living with grief, and they replied:
“Grief is exhausting! There’s no escape. I feel lost, like I’m on a roundabout with no exits.” Steve
“No one knows what we go through, you can’t understand the enormity of the loneliness you feel unless you go through it yourself. But how can you explain that? Asking for help is hard. So, check in with people – don’t just say ‘call if you need me’. Chances are we won’t call.” Sam.
“Talk to me. Don’t be embarrassed in trying to find the right words, your kindness will show itself. Don’t try and fix it, don’t try and change it – just sit with it, witness it, give me permission to feel my feelings and let them out.” Jack
“Memories of my husband? Yes of course I still have then but they are not the same when you can’t share them. Help me by saying his name, share your memories of him. Sharing tears and laughter is so healing, and I love to know he isn’t forgotten.” Sue.
We will all be bereaved at some point during our lifetime, and hopefully, we will find the help we need navigating life after loss. National Grief Awareness Week is an opportunity to remind everyone that there are almost certainly people we know who need support, care and compassion.
If you are grieving, and would like to learn more about our Bereavement Friendship Project full details can be found on our webpage
NB All names are pseudonyms
Amanda Carter – Bereavement Friendship Project Co-ordinator