Taking place 9th-15th October every year, Baby Loss Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. Stigma and silence often mean families feel isolated in their grief. COVID-19 has made this worse. 
 
Today, guest blogger and Grief Recovery Specialist Detola Amure shares her story. 
Detola Amure Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist
This is a time for compassion and empathy. As we go back into local lockdowns and the rate of infection increases, anxiety is also rising. Getting through the day can be hard enough for some. 
 
We are calling on you to take notice, listen, and comfort others without trying to fix, analyse or explain, or change the topic back to yourself. 
How to actively listen
To mark World Alzheimer’s Month, we’d like to acknowledge everyone who is living or has lived through their loved one’s decline from this disease. Our hearts go out to you. 
 
From the early signs, when you barely notice anything is wrong, to witnessing confusion, to the point where your loved one barely recognises you - all come with a layer of heartbreak and feelings of loss. Each appointment that brings another reminder of gradual decline can hit you like a tonne of bricks. 
Grieving the Living: Alzheimer's
“If only I could tell them I love them one more time.” 
“If only I could touch them again.” 
“If only we could have one more day together.” 
 
Wishes like these are incredibly common for grievers and are not only heard after a death, but also after a breakup, divorce, or a loved one moving far away. They may seem like factual statements, but they’re actually emotional statements that reflect the pain of longing. Two partners in a long-distance relationship, for example, may experience longing even though they can routinely talk on the phone. A mother may yearn for her child after she leaves for university. We may even have dreams where we reach out for our loved one and are never quite able to grasp them. 
Yearning for partner
“Emotional baggage” is a popular term implying that someone has done a poor job of moving on from past painful relationships. Unfortunately, it is often blamed for many breakups. 
 
As much as we like to accuse others of having too much emotional baggage, the truth is that all of us have it. 
Emotional baggage ruined relationship
How many times have you heard one of the following? 
 
“It’s really time you should move on, get on with your life.” 
“You should really go out and meet people.” 
“Don’t worry, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.” 
“What’s in the past is in the past. Stop dwelling on it.” 
 
Even though this is well-intentioned advice, it’s rarely very helpful – if we could move on, most of us would have done it long ago! 
How to get over your ex
Lockdown has brought about a sudden and unexpected loss of income for thousands. Even those who have been put on the furlough scheme are still not in receipt of their full monthly income. Then there are those who have been excluded from government schemes, such as the newly self-employed, company directors, and freelance workers. Some have taken pay cuts, and others have lost their jobs altogether. 
 
This level of loss can be devastating. It’s the loss of your financial security, loss of perhaps being able to buy food, and could mean the loss of your home. There are no ceremonies around the loss of finances and the dreams that went with them. We are left feeling unfinished and lost. 
Loss of financial security in Lockdown
As employees start to return to work, now is a good time to start planning how your business is going to support those who have been bereaved during Lockdown. 
 
Identifying employees who have been bereaved can be ascertained by line managers during catch-up calls, or via a simple email survey. This is important, as you may not have a clear indication of those who have lost friends and family members outside of immediate family. For immediate family losses, we have guidelines for writing sympathy letters here
Grief in the Workplace
If you've been following our 5-point plan for living through lockdown, you know that today's tip is all about learning how to say goodbye. 
 
5. Say Goodbye 
 
When you speak to someone on the phone, it’s normal to end the conversation with ‘see you soon’ or ’see you later.' We’d urge you to make sure you say ‘goodbye,’ and ‘I love you’ and ‘I miss you’ (if they’re true and honest statements for you to make) to those you care about as frequently as you can at the end of your conversations. In our 5-point plan, we told you that COVID-19 does not discriminate. Saying goodbye at the end of every conversation means that in the event something awful happens, your last word was goodbye. 
 
In our work with grieving people we regularly hear that one of the painful ideas that keeps them stuck in their grief is that they didn’t get to say goodbye. Firefighters and those in the armed forces are trained never to part on a bad word with loved ones for this very reason. 
Say goodbye
Let's review our 5-point-plan for leaving lockdown thusfar: 
 
4. Have an open heart 
 
Now that you’re well-placed to say everything that you want to say, listen with an open heart to what the people you care about have to say to you. 
Have an open heart
The Grief Recovery Method teaches us how to listen and comfort others without trying to fix, analyse or explain (or change the topic back to ourselves!). Instead, we use the image of being a “heart with ears” – offering our full presence and listening with care and patience. If, and when we do respond, we do so without offering judgement, analysis or criticism. Rather than telling someone we know “exactly how they feel,” we can instead acknowledge their feelings, such as “It sounds like you’ve really been through it.” 
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