Monday 12 October 2015

Talking about grief

We all have our different ways of dealing with grief. Some of us want to talk  when we have experienced a loss, and some of us want to withdraw from family and friends. There is no right or wrong way to deal with this. You do what feels best for you at the time. I am often asked how long it will take to feel better after a significant loss. There is no timeline. I think your life is changed after a significant loss, but what may happen is that the intensity of the feelings may alter after some time.  What can be difficult is the pressure that some of us can feel from society, family and friends to move on. Sometimes people will mention Elizabeth Kubler Ross's stages of grief to me,  and raise concern that they are stuck in one stage, and have not moved to the next. This was a model, that she used to explain experiences, so if you do not experience these stages there is nothing wrong with you.

I read Kiran Aldrige's article at the weekend, on how grief is a dirty secret.  People say to me often, that it was only when they had a bereavement that friends and colleagues opened up about their own losses, whether it was a death of a partner, parent, sibling, a miscarriage or stillbirth, they did not avoid the subject. As Kiran mentions in her article, life goes on as normal for those who are not grieving.This can be difficult for you, if you are bereaved, as your world has come to a standstill. You may experience friends or colleagues, avoiding you, crossing the road when they see you coming. Some people don't know what to say or do, and find it uncomfortable to deal with. I have seen relationships change or end during these difficult times, because friends or family have gone missing in action.

I think it is important that you realise that what you are experiencing is normal, and that you do not have to pretend to feel okay after a significant loss. Sharing your feelings with friends or family that you feel comfortable with, can be helpful. It is sometimes difficult to express that you don't  want to talk to anyone, when you recognise friends and family want to help you. Or you may want to express yourself to family and friends, but are concerned about them worrying about you. This is where support groups can be useful, as you will be sharing your experiences with people in a similar situation. Seeing a bereavement counsellor if you feel ready, can also be helpful, as you will have your own space to talk about your loss, as and when you wish.


  1. Thank you for addressing this topic so candidly. I agree that having direct discussions regarding parental grief is so important. As a mama who lost a baby, I felt great shame. As a clinician, I understand the importance of addressing this struggle with my clients. As a supervisor, I've sometimes struggled with how to demonstrate the importance of addressing this topic. Thanks for making it so succinct.

  2. Thank you for stopping by Sara, and for your comments.Thank you for sharing your experience. I think there is such a pressure on us as women to have babies, that if your baby dies you can feel you have not done what you were supposed to do, Feeling different from your peers, who have not had pregnancy losses, and sometimes pressure from parents and in laws as well. Shame is something that I hear about all the time, as a clinician.