When someone you love dies…

Grief is awful.  Everyone says nice things about the deceased, they offer you words like “he had a good innings”, “a merciful release, really”, or “let us know if we can do anything”.  The funeral happens.

And everyone goes away and carries on living their lives.

And yours stays stopped.

Yes, the well-known ‘grief curve’ does describe a lot of what we feel when we are bereaved…but, in the immortal words of Mr Eric Morecambe, not necessarily in the right order….

mixed-stages-of-grief

And your life stays stopped…sometimes for years.  Every birthday, Christmas, anniversary, the wounds reopen.  Every time you pass that restaurant you both loved, every time you hear a certain piece of music, and so very many people cannot understand why, after all these weeks, months, years, you haven’t ‘got over it’.

This callous ignorance is bad enough when the deceased was a member of your family.  It’s even worse when it’s someone you loved who happened to be a dog, cat, rabbit, or other furry, scaled, or feathered friend.

It can be even worse when the deceased person, the someone you love dies…but their body exists without them: dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia is affecting more and more people, and their carers are becoming less and less supported either practically or in society’s estimation.  They are taken for granted.

Hypnotherapy can help both sufferers and carers.  Please ask around to find a practitioner near you (but not me, because I’m not trained yet!).

The gentle approach to this dreadful disease is within your grasp.  There is hope.

Why we grieve for people we’ve never met

This last week, there were lots of touching tributes to Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear (among many other childhood favourites).  As well as the beautiful bronze statue of Paddington in Paddington Station which became an impromptu shrine, Twitter and other social media sites were filled with affection and sadness.  There was a little flurry of photos of people’s own Paddington Bears being comforted by their other bears, with the poignant caption “We’re sorry for your loss, Paddington.  We will look after you.”…a reference to the label around Paddington’s neck.

The same sort of outpouring happened when Sir Terry Pratchett died.  Some clever fan set up a petition to Death to bring the author back (sans his Alzheimer’s).  It wasn’t intended to be successful, of course.  It was intended to allow his fans a way of expressing their grief in a way that we all knew he would have appreciated (and found funny).

If a public figure has captured the public’s imagination in any sphere, it is natural for us to feel sadness and grief at their loss, even if we never knew them personally.  And this phenomenon isn’t new.  Think of the mass grief that met the deaths of Rudolph Valentino, or Horatio Nelson, or Princess Diana.

If a celebrity and/or their work has struck a chord with us, the reality is that we do know a part of them.  They have connected with us.  When they die it is natural to grieve the loss of that connection…and the possibility of more connections that might have been.

RIP Mr Bond.  We will look after your bear.