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Coping with Bereavement

Bereavement is a very difficult subject to conquer right now, especially with the experiences of Covid-19.

Many of us have lost loved ones, friends, close relatives and neighbours and its heart-wrenching. Covid hit us all like a thunderbolt and turned our lives upside down. It’s been hard enough to carry on with all the restrictions placed upon us and the uncertainty of not knowing what Government changes would be implemented week by week. Our usual activities, social or otherwise were stopped in their tracks with restaurants, pubs, clubs, social gatherings all shut until further notice.

Even though some of the restrictions have been lifted and we are beginning slowly to regain some normality in our lives, the aftermath of losing someone we held dear has been enormous. Bereavement under any circumstance is hard at any time but not being able to say goodbye to our relative/loved one or see them at their hour of need has made it even harder.

I personally experienced bereavement of three close relatives way before Covid ever reared its ugly head. My late brother died in October 2014, then my late mum in March 2015, followed by my dear dad and beloved pops as I called him in March 2016. This may have been just over four years ago now but it is still hard to come to terms with. Losing three relatives so close together made it especially hard. I personally had to undergo counselling to cope. I experienced terrible panic attacks and had no idea at the time what was happening to me. My counsellor gave me very good strategies to overcome these at the time they hit me. I can still remember that terrible panicky feeling that would envelope me and the only way I could overcome it was to have a happy photo of my pops on my mobile that I could immediately look at when the panic set in.

Everyone’s experience of bereavement is different. At these difficult times though that we are all facing, many more of us are having to not only deal with bereavement but deal with the fact that we could not be with our loved one to help them through their suffering or say a proper goodbye or even attend their funeral in the same way we would have wanted to. I personally was not there to say goodbye to my dad at the end of his life and only managed to see him four hours after he had passed. This was a hard enough pill to swallow so I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for relatives who have lost their loved ones to Covid.

I believe we go through different stages of bereavement. I certainly did. It overwhelms us initially until we reach a point where we have an acceptance of it, and we can look back on the happy memories and life begins to have real meaning again. When it happened to me, I remember awaking one morning and the sun seemed to shine brighter, the birds tweet louder and I jumped out of bed with more of a spring in my step. I then realized that I was at a stage in my bereavement where I could look back at the loved ones I had lost and laugh, smile, rejoice at all those happy memories. I planted my pops favourite bedding plants in my own garden, I went on picnics to favourite destinations my late dad loved, and I cooked fluffy scrambled eggs the way pops taught me. I may not have made the scrambled eggs quite as well and no one could do a picnic quite like dad. He was a master at remembering everything, even down to the picnic chairs, table and all the little extras that made it so perfect, but I certainly did find comfort in doing all of those things.

I remember when it was still quite raw going way out of my comfort zone, forcing myself to do things when I really would rather stay under the duvet. And slowly but surely every day I got that little bit closer to overcoming bereavement. There is now an acceptance and a calmness that comes over me when I think about pops. I have a beautiful photo of mum and dad that I talk to regularly and I kiss the photo frame and say love you ma, love you pops, it’s my personal journey that I have been on and it sure does take courage to share it all with you, and I so hope it helps in some small way…

Your journey is personal to you and I hope every single one of you that has experienced bereavement in the past or is still going through it now … that you find your own inner peace as I did. Re-living the memories that were so precious gave me enormous comfort and brought me closer to that special someone I had lost …. so I wish all of you to find that inner peace, calmness, and eventually, happiness at remembering that special someone in your lives who has passed on …

NB:    I sought out my bereavement Counselling initially from my local Hospice, who kindly gave me a number of free sessions, I then gave a small donation, which was entirely optional.  I chose to continue with my Counselling for some time after this with another Therapist.  If you feel Counselling is something that will benefit you then you could get a referral from your General Practitioner.  Counselling isn’t for everyone but in my case it helped enormously.

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