National Grief Week seeks to break taboo of talking about it

NORMALISING conversations about grief and loss, as well as helping those in need, are the aims of National Grief Week, which begins today.

Town Church rector the Rev. Matthew Barrett, volunteer counsellor Sharon Harvey and Guernsey Bereavement Service manager Liz Pirouet-Douglas want to 'normalise conversations about grief and loss'. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30255928)
Town Church rector the Rev. Matthew Barrett, volunteer counsellor Sharon Harvey and Guernsey Bereavement Service manager Liz Pirouet-Douglas want to 'normalise conversations about grief and loss'. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30255928)

‘The idea is to break the taboo of talking about grief – people cross the road to avoid talking about it,’ said Guernsey Bereavement Service manager Liz Pirouet-Douglas.

‘We want to get grief openly talked about, as we do the weather.’

At 5pm this evening, a remembrance garden will be blessed at Candie Cemetery and a lantern procession led by the Hope Choir will end at Town Church, where there will be a quiet reflection evening and the opportunity to speak to those in similar situations and experienced counsellors.

The Rev. Matthew Barrett said live piano music and refreshments would be available.

‘We’re not very good at talking about grief and knowing what to say to people who are grieving – we give them too much space or none at all,’ he said.

‘Although we may be able to emphathise, we never know how they feel.’

Candles can be lit in the Lady Chapel in memory of a loved one and tags can be added to the GBS Christmas Tree.

Volunteer counsellor Sharon Harvey emphasised grief lasted for years, but hoped to help those struggling and people who didn’t know what to say.

‘People are frightened to speak about it if they are grieving because they are in shock and pain,’ she said.

‘They are learning to live without this person – have other people around them for the first few weeks or months but then people have gone on with their own lives. Grief doesn’t just go on around the funeral area, it goes on for years.’

Christmas was a particularly difficult time for those grieving, so people should have support, she added.

‘Everyone else around them is enjoying themselves but they are at a loss because they don’t have their loved one there with them.’

Ms Pirouet-Douglas said the GBS had around 150 individual clients and also worked with corporate clients.

‘The only thing they have in common is they have a bereavement – everyone is individual and this is why we walk their journey with them,’ Ms Harvey added.

The organises urged people not to shy away from saying the person’s name or using words like ‘death’, and advised them to avoid the phrase ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do’ – instead do something active such as going out for a meal, walk, or just listening.

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