Francis Ngale is Carers Network’s End of Life Carers Project Manager. Read his thoughts on how we need to bring bereavement alive and talk about death and dying.
“In the past, death was an integral part of family and community life. People died at home, surrounded by family, friends and neighbours. Adults and children experienced death together, mourned together, and comforted each other. Today, death is lonelier. Most people die in hospitals and nursing homes. Those dying have less opportunity to be with their family and friends, who may often miss sharing their last moments of life. The living and the bereaved have become isolated from dying. The experience is highly personal, unique; it is a confusing time involving a lot of very powerful emotions as each of us will go through a range of recognisable reactions and emotions.
These emotions can grow as well as fade and shift. For many carers, the time of bereavement signifies the loss not just for their loved one, but also the loss of an occupation, finances, housing and even the sense of purpose. So it is important that we find ways to mourn our losses and express our grief. Often, the full reality of the bereavement may not hit you until after the funeral is over, the cards and flowers have stopped, friends and family have moved away and you are left alone to deal with the practical issues that comes after the death of the person you cared for. The length of the grieving process will vary from person to person, but generally would last much longer than most people expect.
Supporting Bereaved Carers
Many grieving people will find it difficult to ask for help. Bereaved carers might feel guilty about receiving so much attention, they may fear being a burden, or might be too depressed to reach out. While we should never try to force someone to open up, it’s important to let the bereaved person know he or she has permission to talk about the loss.
Through our End of Life Carers Project, Carers Network is working to understand and improve how it responds to and supports carers who are bereaved because of the death of the person they cared for. So whether you require a listening ear or practical support, we are here to help and support.
The death of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences, so feeling depressed, confused, disconnected from others are common reactions when you are grieving. But if these feeling don’t gradually start to fade, or you feel that you need more in-depth help in dealing with your grief, please speak to your GP. If you are concerned for someone who you know is grieving, then do consider encouraging them to seek professional help