Getting grief and bereavement support

Written by Suraj Shah, inspired by greatness.

Upon losing someone, do you feel there’s no-one you can talk to?

Even with loads of people around who try hard to make sure you’re not left on your own, it’s still so easy to feel alone. But there is a way through it.

A new reader of Live with loss had been struggling with her father’s death for over two years.

She recently wrote to me:

“I feel alone and stranded in that no one around me wants to talk about it. Many times I’ve restrained myself because people around me would either be uncomfortable or not ready to talk about loss or grieving.”

I think many of us have felt this at one time or another — whether someone close to us has died, or we’ve lost them in some other way.

Even with many caring people around, we feel completely stranded because it feels we can’t depend on them to give us what we need.

The people around us

These people — our family, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbours — may think they know what we need. But mostly, they don’t. They may want the best for us, but they tend to arrive ill equipped.

Some don’t really know what to do, so they send a small note and leave us alone. Some don’t bother to contact at all.

Some are so caught up in their own lives that they don’t notice we need their support.

Some get so distracted retelling their own tragic stories or updating us about other people who have died, that they completely forget about us!

Some even have their own agendas in making sure we’re “fit to work” again, so they do what they can to rush us back into a normal happy state.

Mostly, the people around us are not comfortable talking about death or loss — they may say it’s too morbid, but perhaps they are a little scared of facing up to the topic themselves.  Go easy on them.

Be aware of all these types of people and let them carry on (because we can’t ever really change someone else), while you facilitate your own ‘getting back to normal’.

It takes time, care and compassion.  Most of all, it takes love. Expectation-free love.

All we need when we’ve lost

The simple truth is that following a loss, all we need is:

  • Someone to sit with us, face to face.
  • Someone to spend time with us, when we’re ready.
  • Someone to ask the right questions.
  • Someone to listen, to truly listen.
  • Someone to not tell us about their own tragic stories!

When we lose someone that we are close to, it is often hard to make sense of it.  The one thing we want above anything else is to have someone to talk to.

Someone to openly talk with, someone who will just listen, who can prepare a welcoming space in which we can breathe and think more clearly.

Reaching out for bereavement support

We may not realise that near our homes and within our neighbourhoods are people trained to support us during times when we feel stranded.

Some are specifically trained to offer bereavement support — to sit and listen to us and help us regain our strength.

These people can be found in:

  • local community centres
  • places of worship
  • hospitals and hospices
  • the local phone directory
  • web searches

Some services are offered by volunteers completely free of charge. Others charge a fee (although many of those are means-tested, which allow you to ‘pay based on your earnings’).

However, if you live in a remote part of the world where a face-to-face visit is not possible, there may be other options:

  • telephone based bereavement support
  • email based bereavement support
  • web video based bereavement support

If you are feeling alone and stranded following the loss of a loved one, I do hope you find the comfort you are looking for through the above.

Your own bereavement support resources

Have you come across other resources that have helped you or others you know?

On Google+, share your grief and bereavement support resources as well as your own thoughts on the above.

Sweet elderly lady

Poem by Suraj Shah.

Sweet elderly lady, that lives just three doors down,
Used to smile broadly, now carries a slight frown.
Lived with her husband for sixty magnificent years,
With his recent passing, she is overcome with tears.

She struggles to cook, craves help from her man,
Can’t manage alone, can’t even lift a saucepan.
It’s been only four months, but feels more like eleven,
Places demands on God, to also whisk her to heaven.

Sons live far far away, with their own pretty wives,
Busy working away to maintain their expensive lives.
They encourage her to move, to somewhere nearby,
Yet such rushed upheavel, would make anyone cry.

She reminisces about their love, missing him so much,
The long country drives, and his soft and gentle touch.
To get where she wanted, he would take her in the car,
Now she depends on others, to reach places near and far.

A beautiful garden, he had worked hard to maintain,
Now looks more like a picture with a horrible stain.
He grew all types of vegetables on the green patch,
Now remains a reminder of her man unfairly snatched.

On warm summer days, in the garden they had sat,
Sharing a glass of wine, discussing this and that.
Now she’s alone, with no-one home to enjoy a drink,
Instead stays indoors, with plenty of time to think.

She thinks and she thinks, thinking more and more,
Pondering on days to come, wondering what’s in store.
Acknowledging she will be alone, and that’s actually ok,
Happy in her own company, she’s decided to stay.

Never forgetting the kind man, who once shared her life,
With conviction she will overcome, any kind of strife.
The sweet elderly lady, that lives three doors away,
Affirms she will lead a full life, starting from today.