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Grief Awareness Week: Grief Is A Bubble

*Please note this blog is a personal reflection of grief after losing someone to cancer so may contain upsetting details or be triggering for some readers*

During grief counselling I was told that grief is a bubble which consumes your life at first. Then your life gets bigger and bigger around the grief bubble. In other words, the enormity of the grief doesn’t change, but your life gets bigger.

I can take a bit of comfort from this, as grief reminds me of the loss and how much my mum means to me. As much as I sometimes want that bubble to remain large to keep her close, I am aware that I am not my grief, and my life is more than this one journey.

To those who may be going through grief themselves or just want to be prepared I can only offer my experience and a few tips (see below). While I understand they may not help you, and I don’t offer them up as a cure for grief, I hope sharing them will bring some comfort or let you know you’re not alone.

1) You do you

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However you are feeling is exactly where you should be right now. Do not feel you need to be ‘over it’ because people stop asking you how you are or have forgotten about your loss. You do you, be patient and kind to yourself and do not overthink where you are and what you should be doing with your grief.

2) Don’t be afraid to let go

Bottling up and stopping the thoughts is a recipe for burnout and consequences down the road. Although you may feel ok by pushing the emotions away and you are able to put everything in the back of your mind, it needs to come out at some point. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge some of the thoughts and feelings, but please, don’t ignore it or bottle it all up deliberately. Little by little is a much more effective approach than ignoring it altogether.

3) You can’t plan the journey but you can help your growth along the way.

You never know what will come up during grief but there is beauty in seeing how you and others are able to grow from it. There is a strength that comes from loss and it is one that is inspiring and powerful. Nurture this growth and look after yourself. It won’t stop the pain, but it will allow you to see and feel things very differently. Write a journal, express yourself, seek help, get into routine, celebrate the little wins (even if that’s just getting out of bed!) or do whatever you need to help you grow during this difficult time.

4) Grief Counselling

The space and time to talk to a professional can really help. Friends and family may struggle to ask you the questions that an independent but empathetic person can. Also, you may feel more comfortable talking to someone who understands grief and your situation objectively. They are used to the crying and the runny noses, so please don’t hold back if you think it could help you.

I have no idea what the next year will bring on my grief journey. I hope there will be less breath holding, more reflection and more growth. In the meantime, I look at how far I have come over the year and feel an immense amount of gratitude for the friends who have been there for me every step of the way, the small family I love and cuddle when I want, my health (even though I make strange noises when I bend over), and the fact that my grief is with me still as a reminder of how much I loved my mum.

If you would like further reading on how to find the right words, particularly with friends and loved ones who are grieving, I highly recommend Listen: How To Find the Words for Tender Conversations by Kathryn Mannix.

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