Giving loss a name.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

One of the issues that people frequently talk about in counselling is bereavement: it’s a heavy subject, laden with difficult emotions.  And I often hear how those who have been bereaved find it hard to manage other peoples' responses.  As the bereaved, sometimes we find ourselves in the position of trying to reassure others.  People can feel anxious about “making it worse”, or may feel uncomfortable with displays of emotion, so may avoid mentioning the deceased person’s name, or may try and change the subject.  It can also be hard to think about those who have been bereaved; it’s a reminder that we, too, could lose someone we love.  We try to avoid things which are painful or upsetting and talking about grief can certainly be that.  Similarly, we may have been bereaved ourselves, and to speak of loss is a reminder of our own pain.

When people offered condolences it was hard, but then I’d ask them what the goofiest thing was they remember Kev getting up to...I wanted everyone to remember that side of him alive.
— Dawn

Whilst no longer with us physically, those who have died are still with us in thought and memory and deserve to be remembered.  Having been such significant parts of our day to day lives, to ignore them or no longer speak their name, can be incredibly upsetting.

Losing my grandad I felt like I lost a huge part of my life. I feel it’s so important to keep talking about him for the sake of my son so he doesn’t forget him. We have a garden memorial where we can go speak to him whenever we want to. We will never ever forget him.
— Steph

I believe it is important to talk about the people who are no longer with us.  It can be hard to know what to say to those who are grieving but try to be honest; tell them it is unbelievable, or incredibly painful.  Tell them you don’t have the words to reflect their grief.  Give them time to talk; you don’t need to fill the silence, just sit with them and listen.  And keep the communication going; a text or message, a phone call or letter.  Little, but often.  They may not respond, they may not commit to plans, but knowing you are there can be a huge comfort.  Most importantly, talk about the person they have lost.  Mention their name, share your memories and anecdotes.    

A phrase often heard is: "I'm sorry for your loss".  Give that loss a name.

George, Kevin, Michelle.

I take comfort that talking about my mum shows she was here, she mattered, she made a difference and I will continue to keep that alive for my children so they know what a wonderful woman she was and still is to me.  … In some respects it feels like yesterday and in others it feels like a lifetime ago. People now often refer to my children as not having a nanny and I find myself regularly correcting them. They do have a Nanny, just not one they know personally, but she is very much still their Nanny … I try my hardest to keep her still here in the present with little conversations, photos and memories.
— Julie

Thank you to those I spoke to, for sharing your stories.  I hope, in some small way, this helps.

For more information on counselling or bereavement, please do get in touch.