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Bereavement

A HAND THROUGH THE DARKNESS - HELP AT A TIME OF BEREAVEMENT

Please get in touch if you need help or counselling over the loss of a loved one.
Call our Vicar, Chris Lawrence at the Church Office on 01825 891090.

If you know of someone who is suffering through bereavement the following may help you:

  • please provide a safe environment where people can grieve. Accept what they say.
  • keep in touch with the person involved even if they appear to be coping better.
  • please offer practical help. Make an invitation to a meal at a specific time on a specific day. Don't say "let me know if I can help".
  • invite them to a social occasion but understand if they say they can't face it.
  • please don't try to give answers - often there aren't any !
  • don't say "I know how you feel" if truthfully you do not !

1."Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved" wrote author Iris Murdoch.

Through that darkness, people have to feel their way and it often takes a very long time before any light can be seen.

Many find that they desperately need help from those who have experienced that darkness themselves - or who have experience in helping others.

Your local church will be able to provide that help and support not just in terms of organising a funeral but through offering the time beyond the day of the funeral.

Even when death is expected, the shock is immense. Take for instance, the example of John, whose wife died after a long struggle with cancer. He said "I was completely numb and in total shock".

That numbness and a sense of unreality, can carry mourners through the first few days until the funeral and often for a few weeks afterwards.

Because there's so much to do in the early days following a bereavement, being busy can keep serious grieving at bay. After the death of his teenage son, Terry said "I seem to have so much energy - organising the funeral, writing letters, raising funds for a memorial".

2. Nick, who also lost a son, says "in the first few weeks of being on 'auto pilot' following James' death I was amazed at just how well I was doing. Complete control - all the necessary legal and memorial arrangements had been made and I had gone back to work." But the next stage of grief hit him hard. "A few days later I crashed. I cried almost every day for months. My heart felt like it had been ripped out. At times I thought I was going mad. "It was only when it eventually dawned on me that this was the way it was going to be that the world had moved remorselessly on that I finally realised how angry I was". It was not until much later that Nick realised such anger was a natural part of and release from grief.

Some people are able to express that anger - others keep their grief inside. Grieving differently makes for difficulties in relationships as Clare and Peter found after the death of their son Tom. Clare shared this. "We were able to talk about Tom and share our feelings with each other. For Peter, mostly, that was enough, however, I needed to share my grief with a wider circle - family and friends, Tom's friends, a counsellor and other bereaved parents".

Other couples have found the same - a wife cannot understand how her husband is able to go back to work - a husband finds it difficult to see why his wife is unable to visit her daughter's grave.

For those bereaved of their partner, such relationship difficulties do not occur - but there are times when people would welcome back their disagreements if that meant that their partner were there !

After her husband died, Gill remembers "I felt I had had half of me amputated without anaesthetic and I was in agony".

One man wrote, after the death of his wife "we, the bereaved, suffer loss. Not just the physical presence of the person but what they have become to us. Their expressions of love to us, their support, friendship, wisdom, loyalty and their big contribution to our life together - all gone".

The feelings of guilt - the sense of "if only" can linger on. The mother of 7 year old Bethany says "we spent so much time going round and round - how did we let our little girl slip through our fingers ? Questions still come back to haunt us but less often now. I suppose you learn to live with them in your own way".

"Time's a healer" is a big lie. Time passes but it doesn't take away the loss. However it can change the intensity of the grief. That sweeping over you feeling can diminish. The powerlessness and emptiness can slowly be replaced by growing acceptance and then healing can begin.

3. Often this can be helped by the local church and those who have walked the same path themselves.

Contact our Church Office - on 01825 891090 - to find out how we can help. You don't have to be a regular church goer - this is one way in which we try to help and serve in our community.

All the names used in this article have been changed to preserve the identity of those involved.