It’s the emotion no one ever wants to feel – or talk about. But right now, in particular, it’s one many will be experiencing in sharp relief.
Grief is what happens in response to a loss and all the series of emotions that can follow it, such as sadness, anger, shock, denial and even relief. During the coronavirus pandemic, many will be grieving loved ones, while we exist in a state of collective grief for elements of the lives we used to lead. During the festive season, with its emphasis on togetherness (virtually or not), as well as the time for reflection, this very specific pain can hit especially hard.
From panel talks to supper clubs, podcasts to social media communities, grief is cropping up more and more on our screens and in our ears, and for a topic so painful and often uncomfortable, it’s found a captive and welcoming audience.
In a recent survey commissioned by palliative and bereavement support charity Sue Ryder, 32% of bereaved respondents said they felt unable to open up about their grief to anyone, despite listing ‘being able to talk freely’ as the action most likely to help in particularly dark times.
There’s a reason why communicating experiences of grief is so helpful, notes psychotherapist and author Julia Samuel. ‘The purpose of mourning is to face the reality of a death. To engage with the psychological pain is an agent of change that forces you to accept the reality,’ she explains. ‘Do that and, over time, you’ll come to terms with the loss before learning to live with it.’
Being a part of a network, even just listening to someone’s experiences via a podcast, brings additional benefits. As Samuel explains, ‘One of the worst feelings is the thought that you’re somehow “grieving wrong”. Once you hear other peoples’ stories, you begin to realise that whatever you’re feeling is normal, which can bring hope for the future.’
Helping to open up the conversation is a new wave of networks on Instagram and beyond, where followers can share their own experiences and listen to those that might bring them comfort. And however long you’ve been in ‘The Club’, there really is something for everyone.
9 grief networks to join now:
The Grief Network
Find at: @griefnetwork
Why: The Grief Network is a community dedicated to helping bereaved young people navigate their loss. With everything from Spotify playlists to a recent collaboration with Sister magazine, the group provides a place for discussing grief in an entertaining (no, really) way.
The Grief Gang
Find at: @thegriefgang
Why: Download this podcast for a smorgasbord of heart-hitting interviews, advice for grief supporters and host Amber Jeffrey’s hard-relate experiences. Over on Instagram, tune in every Wednesday at 3pm for Lives with other members of the online grief community.
Find at: @thegriefcase
Why: Illustrator Poppy Chancellor encourages followers to use creativity to express their feelings towards grief. While IRL interaction is not currently an option, The Griefcase is hosting monthly online meet ups and a regular ‘Dos and Don’ts’ Instagram Live series – giving gentle suggestions to those dealing with their own, or a loved one’s, grief.
Life. Death. Whatever.
Find at: @lifedeathwhat
Why: Founded by an end-of-life doula and a funeral director, Life. Death. Whatever. is a community exploring how engaging with death can help us live better. Hit follow for the ‘Five Things’ series, where grievers of all kinds share stories of what they’ve learned from love and loss.
Find at: @bereavementroom
Why: Founded late last year by Callsuma Ali, Bereavement Room is a podcast exploring grief from a non-white perspective – dissecting the effects of grief across various cultures, by bereaved people of colour.
The Dinner Party
Find at: @thedinnerparty
Why: In normal times, followers can sign up to be matched with a supper club table near them and join a like-minded group expressing how they feel about death, over dinner. During coronavirus, the group continues to provide support through ‘virtual care spaces’ such as group journaling sessions and yoga.
Let’s Talk About Loss
Find at: @talkaboutloss
Why: With 20 active groups across the country, Let’s Talk About Loss hosts monthly get togethers for bereaved 18 to 35-year-olds – from pub trips to ten-pin bowling. Right now, you can find these meet ups online, as well as their monthly ‘Bereavement Book Club’.
Find at: @alica.forneret
Why: Follow writer and ‘Grief Guide’ Alica Forneret for relatable content and practical advice for those living with loss, such as how to forge your own ‘grief routine’. More recently, Forneret has started PAUSE – a newsletter with grief and mental health resources by and for people of colour.
Find at: @thegriefcast
Why: Hosted by comedian Cariad Lloyd, The Griefcast is an award-winning podcast in which Lloyd quizzes a different celebrity each episode on their personal experience of grief. Download to hear from Aisling Bea, Poorna Bell, Gemma Whelan and many more.
If you're struggling right now, contact Cruse Bereavement Care’s free national helpline at 0808 808 1677 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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