Some time ago Caroline asked me to write a piece on bereavement and depression. Having suffered bereavement myself last year, I guess I seemed like an obvious choice.
Twenty three years ago my best friend had to move house. She was sad to go because they were leaving a beautiful part of the country and leaving good friends. The thing that haunts her still is that she had to separate their then four year old daughter Sophie from her best friend Beth.
Children recover quickly of course. Or do they? Sophie has never made another close friend like Beth and, thank goodness, visits and emails have meant that the two are still in touch. But my friend still regrets the amount of grief she had to inflict on Sophie and Beth.
When we think about bereavement and grief we automatically think about loss through death; but grief is a response to any loss. That might mean a loss of a loved one through death. But it might also mean many other things. We can grieve the loss of a friendship, losing our health or physical ability, our job, or a beloved pet. Loss could mean divorce, miscarriage, infertility, moving, or being deployed.
Surely the most painful loss must be that of a child. But loss cannot be tidily categorised into big or small. Another friend of mine has experienced more than a dozen miscarriages and has been unable to have children. I read that one man said that when he and his wife were trying to start a family and his wife was not conceiving that each time her monthly period arrived it felt for both of them like a death with no body.
The bitterest grief I have ever felt was for the loss of my first husband; not through death, but through divorce because he didn't want me anymore. The sense of loss caused by betrayal and rejection hurt far more than his physical absence. I would sit for hours with my (long-suffering) cat on my lap weeping into her fur. When that cat died, at the grand old age of twenty three, I grieved for her too, but in a more accepting way: she had a good life and it was time. She died peacefully purring on my lap and we laid her to rest under her favourite tree.
Experiencing loss is a part of life and grief is the appropriate response. Nobody should be expected to just shrug off a loss and carry on as normal. Whatever your loss is, you need to give yourself permission and time to grieve; however that grief looks and feels to you.
A Moodscope member.