Chloe Horne, Bereavement Therapist, answers your most common questions about grief
Question: What advice would you give someone who lost a loved one 2-3 years ago, but can still find the grief overwhelming?
Try not to think of grief as a linear and set process. Sometimes it’s easy to think I should be over this now! But in reality, grief just isn’t like that. It takes everyone a different amount of time to process and adjust to life – whether that’s 2 months or 2 years – it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us. It’s natural.
If you have moments where the grief feels almost like day one again, allow yourself to feel it without giving yourself a hard time.
As we continue to live, we grow around the grief, rather than that grief shrinking by itself. I say let yourself feel it and express your emotions – avoiding this will only make those emotions build up and it may become more overwhelming.
However, if you do feel you need some help, do ask for it. And that’s something Gaddum can help with.
Question: How can we support children that have lost a family member?
Be open and honest with them. Use age-appropriate language, of course, but don’t be scared to use the word death. Show them it’s okay to feel emotional, there is no set time limit on grief, and it’s different for everyone.
Also make it clear that it’s okay to talk about the person we lost, and you can take the lead with this by often mentioning them in conversation. Other things you can do include making a memory box and using rituals like anniversaries to celebrate the person too.
Finally, make sure you listen to them and do what you can to support them.
Gaddum provide specific child bereavement therapy to children and young people in Manchester who have experienced loss.
Question: What support would you like to see for students to deal better with grief?
So much! I would love for all teachers to have training around bereavement, specifically for children, so they can be more aware of behaviours and emotions that may be coming from their experience of bereavement. With this training, they may feel more confidence in offering support.
I think a good idea could be allowing for groups of students who share the experience of bereavement to be able to meet and support each other. One of the things I hear a lot from bereaved young people is that they feel weird or unusual for their experience – often as they aren’t aware of other young people in their school experiencing bereavement.
When they find out they aren’t the only ones, they tend to feel more ‘normal’. It’s not just me, this happens, and often they get lots of support from peers with shared experiences. So that is what I would like to see.