How to deal with grief during the Christmas period


If you look around at Christmas time, mostly what you will see is smiling faces, laughter, happiness, perhaps a little over indulgence and someone flustered behind the scenes from trying to get everything done and perfect.

What you don’t tend to see or perhaps a better way to put it is don’t want to see is sadness and grief. Christmas can be a painful time whether it’s your first year without someone who has died, or you were bereaved long ago. Losing a loved one is always hard, but the festive season can make it even tougher to be missing someone.

The traditions that used to bring joy now act as a painful reminder of the person who is no longer here to share it with us. Different people will choose to cope with grief at Christmas in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to do things, the important thing is that it is the right way to do things for you. Take some time, early on, to think about how you want to do Christmas and how this will or won’t affect those around you whether or not they are bereaved as well.

Some bereaved people find that they do not wish to celebrate Christmas at all, whilst some find that simply maintaining their routine and celebrating as normal is the best tribute they can pay their loved one.

Make time within the hustle and bustle of Christmas to express your feelings of grief. It’s so important that you feel able to talk about and cry for your lost loved one with people who will really listen without trying to ‘fix’ you.

Trying to keep to regular patterns of sleeping and eating are small things that can make a difference. We can all drink more on festive occasions, but it’s important to remember that using alcohol to escape the pain of loss provides only very temporary relief.

Don’t deprive yourself, but be careful not to let the rich Christmas foods become your comfort at this hard time. Make sure you are eating healthy, nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water.

Finally, find ways to celebrate and honour the life of the person you have lost. Sing some Christmas carols they loved or dance madly to some of their favourite festive tunes. If there was a cause that was particularly meaningful to them, consider volunteering there or helping out in the community.

Of course if you need to talk, we’re always here. 01202 303722 or info@john-sackett.co.uk

How To Help Those That Are Grieving


One of the worst experiences we are faced with in life is loss and bereavement. Some people will be fortunate to have never experienced any kind of grief and unfortunately others are all too familiar with the feelings of loss and bereavement.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines grief as “intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” This is as good a description as any, though I’m unsure any words can truly describe the feelings of grief.

We all deal with it in our own ways whether it be to talk about it or to hide away from the world until we’re forced back into society. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief though there are perhaps methods that are better in some respects. The trouble comes when you are not the person experiencing the grief but the one trying to support the bereaved through their loss.

What should you say? What should you do? Will anything you say or do actually be what they need? All one can do is try.

Here are a few ideas on how to help:

  • Never avoid someone who has been bereaved. It’s confusing and hurtful. Texts, emails and letters are all acceptable – it’s the contact that matters. Grief can make you feel scared and alone. Saying “I’m sorry” is enough if you can’t think of anything else.
  • Never tell someone how they’re feeling, because grief is incredibly individual. Just be there to support them.
  • Don’t stop someone crying. Even saying “don’t cry”, meant helpfully, can seem as if you are shutting them down. It’s OK to be silent while someone sobs, just give them a reassuring, gentle touch to let them know you are there.
  • Save the flowers for three months after the bereavement, when everyone else has fallen away and it seems everyone has forgotten. The bereaved person will still be grieving. It’s getting back to ordinary life that can hurt the most.
  • Don’t be afraid to mention the person who has died. Often people will avoid mentioning them or their name because they don’t know what to say or feel awkward, however this can often be more painful than a stroll down memory lane to remember the good and happy times.

Let the grieving person guide you. If you are there to be a support, allow their grief to guide you along the correct path of comfort.

If you need any help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What Is Palliative Care And Why Is It Needed?


No-one wants to think about becoming ill or being faced with the harsh reality of mortality. However, if you have been told that you may not get better then you might hear the term Palliative Care mentioned. But what is it?

Palliative care is generally for people living with a terminal illness where a cure is no longer possible. It is also for people with a complex illness who need their symptoms carefully controlled – these people often have an advanced progressive condition, but this isn’t always the case. In a way, Palliative care is also for the family members of the person who is suffering with the illness, and it can be a much-needed support.

Palliative care aims to treat/manage pain as well as other symptoms but will also help incredibly with any psychological, social and of course spiritual needs. Treatment can involve many different things from medicines to therapies depending what the specialists believe will help their patients. This can also include caring for someone near the end of their life – this is called end of life care.

The main purpose of Palliative care is to help the patient and everyone effected by their diagnosis to achieve the best possible quality of life and might be received alongside other therapies or treatments such as chemotherapy.

Palliative Care can;

Improve a person’s quality of life during complex or terminal illness
Provide relief from pain and other symptoms that cause distress or upset
Support life and aid in keeping people as healthy as possible
Regard dying as a normal part of life and help people to prepare
Does neither quicken or postpone death
Provide spiritual aspects of care
Offer a support system to help people live as happily as possible until death
Offer support to loved ones and help them to cope during treatment and potential bereavement.
Palliative Care doesn’t need to start towards the end of someone’s illness or treatment but can in fact begin in the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life.

It can take place in hospitals, hospices or in people’s own homes and can be given via General care from people such as your GP and community nurses etc as well as via Specialist Care from experts in Palliative Care and it’s likely that both types will be needed as a person’s needs change.

If you think that you or someone you care about may need Palliative Care, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk to you about yours or their needs.

Grief and its Power


There’s no escaping it. When grief arrives in our lives in its various forms there is no hiding from it, though some may try. At its worst it can be all consuming and feel as if we will never escape from it and for others, it can make them feel empty and a shell of their former selves.

There are many definitions of grief as the word can encompass so many things. Whatever the situation, grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. It can also be the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change of something familiar.

Obviously, the most common cause of grief is the loss of a loved one. The primary emotion caused during this time is tremendous sadness as well as sometimes relief that perhaps a long-suffering family member is no longer in pain or perhaps anger that someone was taken too soon.

Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Some will welcome help and comfort and some will shy away from it. But, how do you begin to even cope with grief?

Acceptance

One of the first and most difficult things that must happen is the acknowledgement and acceptance of the feelings that you have. Many people will try and avoid them because they don’t feel comfortable with them, but this can lead to further psychological problems later on. You need to find a safe place be that alone or with someone, find what works for you, sit down and acknowledge how you are feeling.

Talking

It may sound like a cliché but talking does help. It will either provide an outlet for the feelings that you have or remind you that just because someone has passed it doesn’t mean they cannot live on through their memories. Find someone you trust or perhaps an outsider you feel comfortable with like a counsellor or support group and push yourself to go. Struggling to cope alone is never the best option but find what works for you, the best tools to help you deal with the emotions that come hand in hand with grief. Don’t push people away – take some space for yourself but don’t sit alone forever.

Time

Give yourself time. There is no set time for grieving. It is different for each person. You will perhaps try and fill the space or void that you are feeling but unless you have accepted the feelings of grief, it will be impossible to fill as it once was. Techniques such as practising mindfulness may help as they teach you how to focus on the positive thoughts you have and pop the negative ones like bubbles floating on a breeze. The most important thing to do is move forward but at a pace you’re happy with and before too long, you’ll start to feel the sunshine on your face once more.

If you’re suffering through grief and loss and would like someone to talk to, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk and help you through the difficult time you are having.