Marking the National Day of Reflection on 23rd March, Beth Hopkins, Bereavement Counsellor at the Hospice talks about the importance of marking anniversaries and letting people who are grieving know they are not alone.
Anniversaries can be really difficult times for people who are grieving. These could be dates such as their loved one’s birthday, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or indeed, the day that they sadly died. ‘Firsts’ can be particularly hard. Making sense that they were here this time last year and now they’re not is incredibly difficult to process and manage.
At Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, we hold Time to Remember events to give people the time and space to reflect and remember their loved ones. Families can come together to share this moment and find ways to support each other. It can be a time of sadness and pain that our loved one isn’t here anymore but also be a time to laugh at memories. Our Time to Remember events also help people reflect on how they’ve been coping with their loss. This can lead people to realise they need to talk about their difficulties with somebody like one of our counsellors in the bereavement team.
People who attend our Time to Remember events feel heard and understood. They feel supported by their loved ones but also by us as a Hospice. This is so important as grieving can be an isolating, lonely time.
We are holding our Time to Remember event virtually this year on Tuesday 23rd March to coincide with the National Day of Reflection. This will be held on our social media channels on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2cwosCvk4U at 6pm. You can join us as it happens or you can catch up with family and friends at a time that suits you.
Bereaved individuals may find it incredibly hard to talk to people about their loss for many reasons. They may fear the judgement of others, of expectations that they should have ‘moved on by now’. They may want to protect others from their thoughts and feelings, believing that if they talk about their loved one, they are making other people feel upset or uncomfortable. This past year has been such a difficult and terrible time but hopefully one positive we can take from it is that people feel more able and encouraged to talk about loss and grief.
I hope the National Day of Reflection on the 23rd March gives people permission to feel the way they are feeling right now – whether that’s sad, lonely, angry, guilty or relieved. I hope it also tackles feelings of isolation and loneliness. It may help people to see they are part of a bigger group that they didn’t know about or hadn’t connected with before. It humanises the statistics that we have seen so often in the news and allows us to remember the people we have lost for who they were.
I hope it gets people talking and tackles the stigma around talking about death.
If you’d like help coping with your grief, no matter how long ago your bereavement was, or whether or not your loved one was supported by the Hospice, you can contact one of our bereavement counsellors. Find out more details here.