March 23 is National Day of Reflection. A minute’s silence at noon is just one way in which it aims to bring millions of people together to support those who have lost a loved one.
Losing someone close to you can be a devastating experience, but even more so during the pandemic, when it has at times been difficult to visit people to say goodbye.
Don’t Feel You Have To Be Strong
Our health writer, Jackie Mitchell, talked to Margaret Nimmo-Smith, a trained bereavement volunteer with the charity Cruse Bereavement Care.
“After a death you may feel shocked, numb, guilty, angry, afraid and full of pain,” Margaret says. “They are all ‘normal’ reactions to what may be the most difficult experience of your life. Over time these feelings should lessen.”
If you’ve been unable to say goodbye to a loved one, Margaret suggests writing a letter to the person explaining what you would have liked to say to them.
It’s also important to look after yourself after a bereavement by eating properly and getting enough rest.
“Reach out to other people if you can and don’t feel you have to be strong and not show emotions. Take each day as it comes and be kind to yourself. Talking to other people about the person who died can help. If there is no-one to talk to, ring our helpline.”
Supporting Grieving People
In addition to the helpline, Cruse offers one-to-one bereavement support through counselling which can take place over the phone or via Zoom, and in normal times, groups.
Other ways you can remember a person include buying their favourite plant; creating a memory garden; setting up a memorial website; buying a name for a star; planting a tree.
“Over time, grief gets smaller. It doesn’t disappear but we learn to live with it. Life grows around it.”
Visit www.cruse.org.uk or call the National Helpline on 0808 808 1677.
The National Day of Reflection is a way of supporting grieving people who have lost a loved one over the last two years of the pandemic. Find out more here.
More advice on coping with grief can be found here.