Coping with grief?

The title of my blog today many would say is a contradiction in terms, and, of course it is. The British way is to appear to cope when really the journey through bereavment is a struggle and supressing those feelings only adds to the pain.

For those who may have nursed a loved one through cancer, to a certain degree the bereavement process has already started as we see our loved ones slip away.

As I frequently write we keep our loved ones alive in our heart and our mind and the TV Dr Hilary on the Lorraine programme echoed that fact today. He also agreed how it is far better to let our grief out and share and talk about our feelings.

My own personal experiences have made me determined to talk to the bereaved rather than avoid them or talking about their loss. As always it is kinder to give them the opportunity to talk, cry and realise you probably won’t have the right words. However, listening and checking they are OK is a start…and not just the week of the funeral it is the weeks, months and even years that they need your friendship and continued support.

Nobody copes…we may feel anger, sad, guilt, depressed along with a whole host of feelings which are beyond our control hour by hour in those initial weeks..but coping probably isn’t one of them.

There are of course great support charities around and steering somebody towards them and/or a counsellor if appropriate would be the act of a true friend.


Being mindful and listening

During the course of both business and social meetings this week friends and colleagues have all mentioned the value of being listened to in both personal and business environments.

Whatever age we have arrived at in life, and, whatever journey we have travelled to get there we will have times when we need support..although we may fight against admitting it.

During my early morning dog walk (before being glued to the laptop) a colleague and I not only covered many steps but many topics. Both professionals in pastoral and practice mindfulness but ‘mindful’ that our maturity and qualifications enable us to do so whereas others are struggling particularly today’s teenagers/students.

We both discussed the rewards we get when we have a break-through with somebody we are trying to support and how the use of eye-contact, or rather its avoidance, plays such an important part. We have many senses and our hearing being our best gift for those that need to talk and not be judged. Sitting next to somebody, respecting their space and not intimidating them takes patience and consideration..but it’s easier than we think. That’s all part of mindfulness…slowing down and using our intellect rather than our emotions will always be fruitful.

Over the weekend find time to be ‘that friend’ who listens. Please give those you love the platform and opportunity to talk, but moreover the chance for someone to listen.

Preventing bullying

As the new term at schools commences there will be many children and parents concerned about the bullying that sadly exists within schools. Hardly a day goes by when we are not hearing about a tragic account of either face to face or cyber bullying and the drastic affect it has on the victims. Schools and parents should be reminding pupils to take responsibility for their actions and just how dangerous bullying can be when it gets out of hand…banter is only banter when everyone is laughing.

Only this week I was talking to a mother who expressed her frustration in the poor way her son’s school had reacted to her pleas for help. This was also the subject of a phone in today on This Morning TV.  Sadly, parents who are faced with a distraught child are often feeling so understandably emotional and helpless that they do not have the energy to fight their child’s corner. In addition they can be met with reluctance by some schools to actually deliver the ‘anti-bullying programme’ they are duty bound to impose.

I echo the advice given today; if your school are not proactive, talk to the chair of governors, local authority or when appropriate the Police.  Please read my piece on tackling cyber bullying on Innovate My School’s website:-

Bereavement support within schools

The best advice often offered when a child loses a family member or close friend is to give them as much support as possible, but also try to maintain some routine in their life. As with any emotional hurdle your child may need to overcome it is always a good idea to keep their school informed so they too can support your child.

Please read my article on Innovate My School’s website which gives advice on returning to school, seeking help from their school pastoral and counselling. Link follows:-

Bereavement…making a difference

Today is not the first time I have congratulated our amazing Princes William and Harry on my blog. I know like many I am behind them in their desire to help with awareness and consideration for anyone going through bereavement, especially children, and, of course, their excellent work in supporting mental health issues.

Listening to these younger members of the Royal family talk in recent interviews and documentaries it is apparrent they intend to continue to make their beloved mother proud by ‘doing something and making a difference‘.

My lovely regular followers will know that I often write about bereavement; the acceptance of death and the shock and bewilderment that bereavement brings to a child is both painful and something that often sticks with them forever.

I will end today’s blog in reminding those coping with recent bereavement that we really do keep our loved ones alive in our minds and heart and talking about them rather than denying their existence is the best way forward.  If you wish to support somebody in their personal journey give them the opportunity to talk, and, cry if they need to.



Support charities

In whichever area one has chosen as a career path we must continue to be mindful and recognise our limitations and when we need to refer a matter onto another professional or organisation. Never more so,  than in the area of counselling.

With the ever increasing cases of childhood abuse in the public eye those who have suffered a childhood trauma are finally finding a voice. Thankfully there are some amazing support charities around with helplines manned by great counsellors who can help them through the process as an adult rather than through the eyes of a frightened child.

Today, as part of my own research and development I contacted The Survivors Trust and was met with great advice from an experienced and positive counsellor.  For those in need or supporting a friend or family member please visit their website: Their helpline is: 0808 8010818

Nobody needs to suffer in silence and/or feel they are alone talking things through really does help..albeit one tiny step at a time.

International widow’s day

I heard that today is International Widow’s Day and regular followers will know that acknowledging grief and helping those who are bereft is dear to my heart. I just wish bereavement was met with more empathy, sensitivity and constructive recognition when my own mother was left widowed at 43 with five children.

I remember my own mother telling me how people would cross the road to avoid talking to her after my father had died suddenly. Of course this said more about their reluctance to talk about death and ‘not knowing what to say’. As I so often write there are no right or wrong words but just to let somebody who has been widowed know that you are thinking of them/or have them in your prayers if that’s appropriate for you helps.

Avoiding discussing or mentioning the person that has died helps nobody, especially the widow. Something else I always remind people to do is to go and visit after the funeral which is a time that the widow and/or her children will need you most.

Additionally continue to invite somebody who is ‘single’ to your events.. for whatever reason they are now uncoupled, and maybe being widowed being one of the sadder reasons. It is far harder to rebuild a life as a single person than those who are still part of a couple can imagine. Not all widows or divorcees are after your generous.

Don’t assume because somebody’s husband had been ill for a long time it is easer on them either because it isn’t. In many ways it is harder as they have maybe seen their partner’s deterioration and a different type of feeling of loss has already started making it difficult to grieve normally (whatever normal is!). As ever the biggest gift any of us can give is our time.

Communication is our best tool

Known as the Redbourn Rambler I can talk the hind legs of any ass …but let’s not get political this morning…  All joking aside I am always ready to have a healthy debate and allow friends and family to openly discuss anything that is troubling them. This has always been the case long before I gained my various counselling qualifications.

Whilst I am a great believer in injecting a bit of humour to lighten the mood I always take matters seriously working on the basis that what may well seem trivia to any of us may be the end of the world to a.n.other.

Which ever way we choose to support and be active in any relationship there is no doubt that communication is still our best tool.  For those working with students and teenagers I hope my latest article on Innovate My School‘s website is of interest:-

Most importantly we must be mindful that during the time of exams and indeed when awaiting their results students get very stressed. Let’s all be extra vigilant and keep them safe from harm. Remembering that the teenage brain is not fully developed in terms of reasoning and they have not yet gained all the life skills to cope with stress…that comes with age and maturity.

Tuesdays are scary..sharing our feelings

Yesterday afternoon I shared a wonderful moment with a neighbour’s dog bounding across the drive excitedly full of love and happiness. An old girl, rescued and sadly abused but as with all dogs offers unconditional love and has mindfulness down to a fine in the moment and be happy.

However, Tuesday is trauma day for our tom cat as the refuge men collect the various recycling and rubbish bins…noisily. My boy makes no secret of how this makes him feel he stays in doors and makes it clear he needs comforting from me.

If only human beings could be as honest as animals with their feelings eh? Too often people suffer in silence and don’t share how they feel with those that would rather know and truly want to help.

Sadly there are not always obvious signs when people are depressed and many cover well and have a PR face.

My message today is tell those you love them, show them that you love them and ask if they are OK, give them the opportunity to say ‘actually I’m not’  and be prepared to listen.

Helping students

Communication has always been the key to success whether in business, teaching or parenting. Innovate My School’s website has an amazing wealth of advice provided by experts within the education sector. I am always happy to be associated with this great procurement tool as one of their contributing writers.

Please read my latest article on combating student stress.