This week is National Grief Awareness Week 2nd to 8th December. Of course, we have got used to the growing number of “days” and “weeks” designated by campaign groups or charities seeking to raise awareness of their particular issues. However, every single one of us, at some point in our lives, will lose someone close to us, so bereavement and grief affects us all.
Some experience grief instantly, others seem to cope but are then affected some years later. Some put on a brave face, others pour their heart out. But the first time anyone loses an immediate family member is often the hardest. There is never any shortage of well-intentioned advice about the need to 'move on' and 'get on with life' but that's not always helpful.
I remember an experienced volunteer at the Samaritans once telling me that losing someone close to you is a bit like losing a limb. You never really get over it but you do get used to it and can eventually learn to cope. Anniversaries of the date that a loved one was lost are often particularly difficult as can be family events like Christmas when the absence is felt more keenly.
In this current year, the measures that have had to be taken to control the Coronavirus have created new challenges. Many will have lost loved ones this year, but the myriad of restrictions and limitations have left some feeling unable to come to terms with the loss. It has been more difficult to visit loved ones in the hospital, funerals have been closed to all but the immediate family. Families have not been able to reach out to relatives and friends for a much-needed hug and human connection, making the process more difficult than it already is. Picking up the phone to those who have suffered a loss has never been more important and, when this pandemic is over, there will doubtless be many memorial services held in lieu of the funerals that could never fully be held so that we can properly remember those who were close to us.
The local charity, Penhaligons Friends, based in Redruth does fantastic work to support children and young people who have suffered a bereavement. Learning to cope is every bit harder for teenagers who have a lot of emotional changes in their life as it is, and younger children who often struggle to understand why such a tragedy has happened to them and can often feel it might even be their fault and need reassurance. Penhaligon’s Friends is there for these children and teenagers. It has built up over 80 volunteers across Cornwall and, at any one time, will be helping and supporting hundreds of Cornish children. The charity runs some excellent support groups where young people going through the same grieving process can share their feelings and receive support. The volunteers have seen a lot of tragedy but, over the years, they have helped thousands of young people come to terms with what life has dealt them.
There are many other support groups available. At Heartlands, for instance, there is regular a grief café available and volunteers will be available locally to support you if you should need it. You can find more details by going to the Good Grief Trust’s website. SEE HERE