Grief is a word that is so often used but is hard to describe. What do we mean by grief? What does grief look like? Jo Burton, Therapeutic and Bereavement Lead, explores grief and how Demelza families are supported.

The pain that can be felt following the death of someone we love is real, with a physical, social and emotional impact; from a knotted feeling in the stomach, the tightening of the chest that seems to take your breath away, the tears that fall, the hurt and anger that consumes and the sleep that is stolen, every ounce of us responds to the loss. When the death is of your child the pain is intensified beyond measure, the experience of loss becomes like no other and an indescribable and sometimes overwhelming period of grief follows.

Grief is a word that is so often used but is hard to describe. What do we mean by grief? What does grief look like? Grief is simply the period of time that comes after a death, the life that is lived without your loved one being physically with you. At Demelza we recognise that grief is not something you work through, as if there is an end from which you can move on, but rather grief is something we learn to live with, something that becomes a part of our lives, and it is painful. Grief can cause chaos within lives, pulling you back to the rawness of when the loss began, before pushing you forward, back into the reality of returning to work, or shopping, or meeting friends only to return again, often without warning, to the pain of your loved one's death, or memories of your time with them.

This back-and-forth grief movement continues, but it changes over time. You will experience, perhaps, less frequent movement, more time with memories that make you smile, feeling less guilty for laughing and having happy times, in the present.

We know that grief can feel lonely, with each of us connecting with the loss in a different way, moving back and forth through grief at different times, often resulting in losing touch with those around us, perhaps alienated by a clash of timing or experience. And yet we know that remaining connected with others can be helpful. Talking helps. Sometimes talking with those who are not directly connected to the loss can support you in having the space and opportunity to say how you are truly feeling, without the blanket of protection we so often have within families or friendship groups, as we worry about making others or ourselves feel worse.

National awareness events, such as Grief Awareness Day, give people permission to speak openly about a subject that often renders people speechless. Connected by this difficult subject it is possible to take the opportunity to start a conversation with others, sharing your experience or seeking support with questions you may have. Demelza families are supported in coming together, either online or in person at events, but also throughout the year, at cafés and groups, and with individual support so that conversations can keep going.

Families often share that the benefit of doing this is that they do not need to explain the challenges or the reality of their grief, as those around them understand and share a similar experience. This shared understanding, coupled with time and an ability to listen is supportive and something that may be beneficial to you. It is okay, to not feel okay, or to not know where to start in getting support, either for you or for someone you care about. But there is always someone to talk with, and during Grief Awareness Day, there are many organisations offering support, who are available to you, when you are ready. If you feel that you would like to talk, reach out this week and connect with someone.

Jo Burton, Therapeutic and Bereavement Lead