Bereavement - Dealing With The Death Of A Loved One

Posted at 00:43am on 8th October 2008


‘Life is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.’ The quotation is attributed to a friend of the writer, E.M Forster, and is taken from a new book titled, Advanced Banter. It struck me, as I read it in the Daily Telegraph, that this is never more true than when we are dealing with a death in the family.


Coping with the loss of a loved one is probably the most public performance we shall ever put on, for which we have had no prior preparation. Whether it’s the death of a spouse or the loss of a child, we come to it without rehearsal or training, all eyes upon us. We become the central figure on the stage of life, playing the lead role in a drama for which we have no aptitude and no liking. We have been thrust into this role; forced to play this part. And even while our grief, loss and bereavement wrap themselves, heavy, about us, others look to us to see if they can learn from our experience.

They can’t, of course! And in a sense, no amount of tuition could ever teach us the nature of our response to the death of a loved one. For each one of us, it will be a unique performance, never to be repeated. Coping with the loss of a child will be quite different to dealing with the loss of a wife. Though we may each be called upon to experience both, the grief, the depth of loss and bereavement, will be different, one to the other. And your pain will not be my pain. Nor my grief yours.


What can be taught, to some extent, is how those of us who play a supporting role may be better equipped to sustain and nourish, comfort and console those dealing with the loss of a loved one. It is now more than two months since I posted the bereavement poem I wrote for my novel A Painful Post Mortem. The book, itself, was inspired by the life and death of my daughter – and my experience in copying with the loss of a child. But what has become clear to me in those two months, is the lostness of those trying to come to terms with loss. In hunting out my poem through various internet search engines, each of those visitors to my site has revealed a vulnerability and need with which I can empathise and to which I may respond.


And so, over the course of the next six weeks, I’m going to be posting periodical articles, poems and excerpts on what I have learned.

  1. The initial shock, and emotions; looking after yourself
  2. Dealing with denial, grief and anger
  3. Planning a funeral, burial, cremation
  4. Coping with letters of sympathy and support
  5. The delusion of believing you can share the event with the deceased
  6. After the funeral – the silence of friends
  7. Discovering unpalatable truths about your loved one
  8. Disposing of possessions and hording of treasures
  9. Handling custody of a child; the claims of a partner
  10. Surviving the first year
  11. The guilt of forgetting
  12. The hurt of being urged to move on

Each of these titles will become an article in its own right. They will not be daily, because they will not answer the needs of every visitor to this site. My aim is to post twice a week over a six week period. Interleaved with the sadness of this topic will be other posts, on other lives, other laughs. But my hope – my ardent prayer – is that those who are hurting will find help in these pages. And that if you feel able to share – your tears, your wounds, your small triumphs – you will do so, in the knowledge and security that your experience will console others. Because it is in sharing that we each find solace – and an end to our isolation. God bless, till next time.

Other Posts in Bereavement: Bereavement Poetry - Death Is But A Door

Your Comments:

4th July 2012
at 6:27pm
I have once lost someone very special to me. It wasn't easy as it feels like my heart is about to explode. What helped the most is having the support of friends and family.
Mel Menzies
6th July 2012
at 4:38pm
Being alone - or feeling that you're alone - when you're going through tough times makes it doubly hard. Glad to hear that you've been helped by family and friends, Andi.

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