Grief: Not spoken about often enough
Updated: Feb 3, 2019
So I'm here at Medway Hospital sitting next to my granddad's bed as he had a heart attack and experiencing further signs of dementia and Alzheimers (double whammy). Watching my Nan lose her husband before her eyes and my granddad think he is on a cruise ship while sitting in a hospital (we went with it to entertain him).
I sit there and think about grief, looking at the families standing around their loved ones and wishing they had more time. Their father, husband and/or brother. The mother, wife, sister or aunt, putting on a brave face.
There's no handbook on the way to handle grief and depending on what the situation is, will ultimately define the process that will allow you to heal from your loss.
I don't have the answers and these thoughts below may help or you may throw the phone in a fit of rage and scream "what the (bleep) is she talking about". But I hope maybe one snippet of info or thought-provoking suggestion might ease the pain you are feeling.
Grief is hard no matter if it's with dementia you grieve over the person that they once were. Or if unfortunately someone passes and you miss them physically being there and just them completely.
TALK ABOUT IT
I don't know if you can speak to someone, a friend or relative. Or maybe you need professional help. But externalising your thoughts and feelings, honest to god, can help. the worst thing with grief and sadness is having it all swimming around in your head. You can only cope with so much. Plus when you say the words they sound different to you talking to yourself in your head. Nuts I know.
Some people though, I understand aren't like me and other people, they aren't Chatty Cathy's. Buy a nice journal and lovely pen and write down your feelings. even if it's the words not sentences, maybe memories you don't want to forget. Maybe sketching or scrap-booking with the photos you have. Anything creative that's an output for your feelings.
SLOW PROGRESS IS STILL PROGRESS
OK, so when your depressed the last thing you can think of is getting out of those PJs, washing your greasy hair and having massive bags under your eyes where you feel like you've cried so much you make yourself tired. The thought of seeing another soul just makes you want to never leave the house....but maybe a friend can help you, or go for a twilight walk with a friend so if it's dark no one will really see the bags, and you might avoid eye contact or just seeing anyone. If you have kids play a game with them. make some new memories. When I say get physical I don't mean going in for a marathon or at the gym for hours. start slow and build it up for 20 min walks. Fresh air, endorphins are all good for you.
Why not look at volunteering some time to a charity. Or arranging a raffle or fun run, something for a charity close to your heart and the person you lost. Keeping busy also helps to keep your mind occupied. If you're really not in the mood, then try and stick to your routine.
Depending on how you are with your grief you may have to take time off work or school. But getting up first thing and having a shower, regularly eating and keeping your energy levels up is important. the mixture of this idea is to help while you grieve, spending days in bed and so low won't do you any good and the person you lost wouldn't want that for you.
FIGURE OUT YOUR GRIEVING PROCESS
As I said, in the beginning, there are many factors that affect what process we take and also who you are as a person. Maybe you are not chatty and you want to be alone with your thoughts, maybe you want to celebrate that person's life with a big gesture or charity event and maybe you want to watch home movies and photos and remember those memories, and not their last days. You will know what works for you, and you will go through stages. But being self-aware will help family and friends be there for you.
As that's all they want for you, is to come through this and help you. Make sure you communicate with your nearest and dearest so they can judge how to support you.
WHAT COULD BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN A LITTLE SOMETHING TO EAT
When your grieving and going through tough times our basic standards of living drop. Sometimes to an all-time low. My Nan, for instance, wasn't sleeping a deep sleep always listening to out for my granddad to randomly make a cheese and pickle sandwich at 2 am. Or not eating a hearty meal so you feel full and sleepy. If you are losing someone before your eyes and having to be there for them. Don't forget to look after yourself as they say you can drink from an empty cup.
FINALLY AND BY NO MEANS LEAST
Grief is a beast of an emotion. It will be a rollercoaster one day you will make it out of bed, in the shower and dressed and other times you won't. You could be talking to a friend, about their kids and what they have been up to and all of a sudden burst into tears. You have to feel and go with those emotions.
You start questioning everything, why am I here, what am I doing with my life, I should be doing more....(fill in the blank). STOP. You may want to change your life or make smaller changes but do it when you are over this initial hump, wait until you are back to your routine. Use the journal idea above and capture those moments of 'ah ha'.
Don't shoot the messenger and yes this is the most cliche thing to say, but, "time heals". You may not heal, you will have a scar of loss, but you will learn to live with losing that someone, your day to day life will go on. There might be a song that plays on the radio, someone will look like a doppelganger (lookalike) but over time these things will remind you of them and put a smile on your face and reminisce rather than break down in tears.
I hope some of this has helped and that you maybe do 1 or 2 things and you feel better.
Just remember that memories are your friends, take photos, record videos and see your, grandparents, parents as often as you can. Call them up and tell them you love them. In this world, life changes constantly and things happen when you least expect it. So enjoy today, don't worry about work or the silly things like that pile of ironing piling up. Make your life happy.
I've included a long list if support groups and networks you can contact for more help dependant on your situation, just in case you feel you do need to talk to someone that understands.
My final words, is a quote/meme I found, that for me summed up grief. If you are going through this, I feel for you and hope your wall will come down and you survive the process.
Anxiety UK Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition. Phone: 03444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm) Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk Bipolar UK A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder. Website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk CALM CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35. Website: www.thecalmzone.net Depression Alliance Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups. Website: www.depressionalliance.org Men's Health Forum 24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email. Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk Mental Health Foundation Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk Mind Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems. Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm) Website: www.mind.org.uk No Panic Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline. Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm) Website: www.nopanic.org.uk OCD Action Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Includes information on treatment and online resources. Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm) Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk OCD UK A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments. Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) Website: www.ocduk.org PAPYRUS Young suicide prevention society. Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm) Website: www.papyrus-uk.org Rethink Mental Illness Support and advice for people living with mental illness. Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm) Website: www.rethink.org Samaritans Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline) Website: www.samaritans.org.uk SANE Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers. SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30-10.30pm) Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: http://www.sane.org.uk/textcare Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum Website: www.sane.org.uk/support YoungMinds Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals. Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm) Website: www.youngminds.org.uk Other sources of support Abuse (child, sexual, domestic violence) Addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling) Alzheimer's Bereavement Crime victims Eating disorders Learning disabilities Parenting Relationships Abuse (child, sexual, domestic violence) NSPCC Children's charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty. Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline) 0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline) Website: www.nspcc.org.uk Refuge Advice on dealing with domestic violence. Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline) Website: www.refuge.org.uk Addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling) Alcoholics Anonymous Phone: 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline) Website: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk Gamblers Anonymous Website: www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk Narcotics Anonymous Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily until midnight) Website: www.ukna.org Alzheimer's Alzheimer's Society Provides information on dementia, including factsheets and helplines. Phone: 0300 222 1122 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. Weekends, 10am-4pm) Website: www.alzheimers.org.uk Bereavement Cruse Bereavement Care Phone: 0844 477 9400 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) Website: www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk Crime victims Rape Crisis To find your local services phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12-2.30pm, 7-9.30pm) Website: www.rapecrisis.org.uk Victim Support Phone: 0808 168 9111 (Mon-Fri, 8pm-8am. Weekends, Sat 5pm-Mon 8am) Website: www.victimsupport.org Eating disorders Beat Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s) Website: www.b-eat.co.uk Learning disabilities Mencap Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers. Phone: 0808 808 1111 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) Website: www.mencap.org.uk Parenting Family Lives Advice on all aspects of parenting including dealing with bullying. Phone: 0808 800 2222 (Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm. Sat-Sun, 10am-3pm) Website: www.familylives.org.uk Relationships Relate The UK's largest provider of relationship support. Website: www.relate.org.uk