How to cope with grief as Kate Garraway confirms death of Derek Draper

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Kate Garraway, with her husband Derek Draper and her parents Gordon and Marilyn Garraway, after being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to broadcasting, journalism and charity by the Prince of Wales during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, on June 28, 2023 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Andrew Matthews - Pool/Getty Images)
Kate Garraway has confirmed that her husband Derek Draper has died after a years-long struggle with Covid. (Getty Images)

Grief is a devastating yet necessary emotion, something that almost all of us will go through at some point in life, as difficult as it is to face.

Right now, heartfelt tributes are pouring in for Kate Garraway and her family, after she announced the death of her husband Derek Draper on Friday 5 January.

Draper, a former political adviser, suffered from major health issues after he contracted COVID-19 in March 2020. Since then, Garraway has shared updates about his condition with fans as she provided him with round-the-clock care.

In an Instagram post, she confirmed his death and wrote: “I’m sad to have to tell you all that my darling husband Derek has passed away.

“As some of you may know he has been critically ill following a cardiac arrest in early December which, because of damage inflicted by Covid in March 2020, led to further complications.

“Derek was surrounded by his family in his final days and I was by his side holding his hand throughout the last long hours and when he passed.”

The couple were married in 2005. They share two children together, Darcey, 17, and William, 15. As the family grieves, fans of Garraway and Draper who have been following their story closely will undoubtedly be feeling the loss as well.

Symptoms of grief

People dealing with the deaths of loved ones will likely experience all the symptoms of grief, which can manifest in both physical and emotional ways.

According to the NHS, symptoms of grief generally include shock and numbness – "this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about 'being in a daze'", overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying, tiredness or exhaustion, and also anger – towards the person you've lost or the reason for your loss".

There's also guilt – about things you feel you should have done, or your inability to prevent their death.

Physical symptoms may include insomnia, lack of focus, pain - from headache to stomach upset to muscle aches - loss of appetite and shortness of breath.

Grief is an agonising but necessary process, to help the bereaved come to terms with the loss, and begin, eventually, to heal.

Watch: Kate Garraway reveals Derek Draper's sepsis battle

The five stages of grief

Michelle Bassam, psychological therapist at London’s Harley Therapy, says that while there are five known stages of grief, it is important to recognise that they are non-linear - everybody experiences them at different times and in no set order.

The five stages of grief include:

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Bargaining

  • Depression

  • Acceptance

"It’s important to recognise you are not alone [in grief]," Bassam tells Yahoo UK. "Everyone goes through this process differently, so it’s important to embrace the many different options you have.

"Family and friends are always a good starting point as they know you well. You need to try and be around warm, kind and uplifting people, who will help you through your emotions in a positive way."

Make space for your feelings

Hands, love and care touching in support, trust or unity for community, compassion or understanding. People holding hands in respect for loss, affection or passion for listening, talk or time
Hands, love and care touching in support, trust or unity for community, compassion or understanding. People holding hands in respect for loss, affection or passion for listening, talk or time

In the period after a loved one dies, you may find yourself suddenly inheriting their things - whether it’s furniture, objects, paperwork, and more. While these belongings usually hold great sentimental value, they can sometimes leave us feeling "trapped or overwhelmed".

Bassam says: "Decluttering the space around us is important to give our mind a rest and room to breathe, but at this time, you may not feel ready to sort through everything or make big decisions on what we might want to keep."

Consider an off-site storage solution to store the belongings until your mind is ready to cope with the process of decluttering. This can help create "a clear space to think, relax, create a routine, and start to look after your own wellbeing".

"Having the option to store belongings, have a clear canvas, so not to feel heavy and overwhelmed is something that needs to be considered. Our mind finds it easier to focus and adjust in a de-cluttered space."

At the same time, it’s important to create a ‘memorable space’ in your home. This is a special place where you can feel close to your loved one, even though they aren’t here anymore.

"We all have our memories but to be able to enjoy and treasure those memories we need to create space for something personal, beautiful and relaxing," Bassam says.

"So why feel guilty about putting things in storage, when it can give us more freedom to feel and start to move forward? Storage isn't for life, it's a positive option until emotionally the time is right."

Grief and parenting

Rearview shot of a young woman and her daughter having a conversation on the porch
Navigating grief while being a parent can add another layer of complicated emotions to an already difficult time. (Getty Images)

Stacey MacDonald, founder of The Modern Storyteller, recalls how her own grief had to be navigated around parenting.

She told Yahoo UK: "I lost my husband of only 62 days to a sudden heart attack on 19th Dec 2013," she explains. "The bottom dropped out of my world.

"The only way I was able to get through was by thinking one baby step at a time - it was a very real case of making the choice in each moment.

"The first few weeks were so hard, as I had to be Mum to a 12 year old who had just lost her dad."

She goes on, "It was as if someone had pulled a rug out from underneath me. I was suddenly falling into a deep black hole. I went on autopilot for a number of weeks because the reality was too hard to open my eyes to."

"I burnt some bridges, I upset some people, and I moved through a period of huge grief for the first six months after losing Chris. It was challenging, cathartic, painful, even joyous… the number of emotions I could list are endless.

Every single day, I also had that moment when I came to and remembered what had happened, and the life I had been dealt. I had to make the conscious decision, every day, to put one foot in front of the other – the decision I still make every morning."

Stacey found solace in the power of talking. "if you can talk about the person that you’ve lost, if you can name them and remember them, if you can regale people with the stories, then there is some part of the process that becomes easier."

There’s honesty, vulnerability, and cathartic healing that happens when you tell that story."

One of the biggest problems reported by those who know or love the bereaved person is simply not knowing what to do or say. Some may find it easier to avoid the person altogether for fear of hurting them further, or say the 'wrong' things due to nerves. But, says Stacey, the best thing you can do is listen.

"Talk, talk and talk a bit more! Talk about the loss, name the person often, talk about how you feel, talk about what you miss, talk about the memories, talk about the fun times, talk about the low points too.

"As the person who has lost someone you have to talk. As the friend or family member, ask questions. Silence can be worse than deafening."

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