Posts from April 2020

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.” 
Today we’re starting the journey of taking you through our Leaving Lockdown 5-Point Plan, starting with Acknowledge Everything. Has your standard response to ‘how are you feeling’ become ‘I’m fine’ when people ask, but underneath you’re thinking, ‘I’m anything but fine’? The likelihood is that you’re going through a whole raft of emotions right now, which change throughout the course of the day. There will be good days and bad days. 
Living Through Lockdown: Acknowledge everything
The third step on our 5-point plan for leaving lockdown is being emotionally honest. (Take a look at Step 1: Acknowledge everything and Step 2: Be present if you missed them.) 
 
A quote used in the Grief Recovery Training is “Love is the product of truthful communication,” and whether we’re talking romantic love or any relationship, when we’re emotionally honest everything works better. For example, “I have a lot to do, I would really appreciate you taking the rubbish out,” is less likely to cause an argument than “Why do you never take the rubbish out?” 
 
The first is what you’re feeling is on the matter, the latter is a criticism. If you try to stick to what’s true for you and express it, you are more likely to be heard. 
Be emotionally honest
‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why it’s called the present.’ 
 
We all spend so much of our lives time travelling, we barely notice it. Travelling into the past with our thoughts to find things to beat ourselves up with, then projecting ourselves into the future to worry, creating stress, anxiety and pain, much of which could be avoided if we simply stayed in the present
 
In fact, it's so important that we've included it on our 5-point plan for leaving lockdown. (If you missed Step 1, Acknowledge everything, click here.
Living Through Lockdown: Be present
As we have all witnessed, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. Many of us have been touched directly or indirectly by this awful virus. We have seen with our own Prime Minister that this virus can strike anyone. Today’s post is about the process of getting your relationships in as good a place as possible, so that whatever happens, you feel at peace with your loved ones. 
 
We’ve come up with a 5-point plan that you can apply to any of your relationships: 
 
 
We will go through each point in detail, so you can apply the points to your relationships. 
Living Through Lockdown
Teenagers have been going through a mixed bag of emotions; the loss of expected hopes, dreams and expectations, elation then perhaps deflation at not having to sit their exams that they’ve worked so hard for, the sadness of missing out on the right of passage of finishing school, no high school proms, and not having their friends around them. Their sense of community has been taken away from them. Until education resumes for them, they may have very little sense of purpose. 
Supporting GCSE and A Level Students Through Lockdown
By now, they have probably settled into a daily pattern of behaviour. Some might stay in bed until the afternoon and stay awake until the early hours, others might be gaming and isolating themselves. While these actions aren’t harmful in themselves, they can become harmful if your teenager ‘keeps busy’ with them for the long term, as their actions are distracting them from dealing with how they’re really feeling. 
When someone you love, or are close to dies, it’s hard enough, but suddenly things have changed. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who are now not able to share last moments with their loved ones who have been hospitalised with COVID-19, who can’t see family for a hug, and instead have to self-isolate after a loss. 
 
The order of things has been turned upside-down. People can’t say goodbye in the way they would expect. There may be a ‘guilt’ element that your loved one has died alone, even though it’s out of your control. Lives and indeed relationships have suddenly been cut short. And then the funeral. Many friends and relatives have had the ritual of saying goodbye taken away from them; something that is part of the normal grieving process. 
When You Can't Say Goodbye

Dealing with unresolved grief 

When we usually talk about unresolved grief, it’s to do with things that have been left unsaid. However, this presents to us a new variant of unresolved grief; the inability to say goodbye, which may then limit grievers from becoming complete with their loss in the future. 
 
How can you get around this? As with many aspects of our lives, we’re having to recreate and reinvent what we already have. Using FaceTime, Zoom, House Party, WhatsApp and the good old-fashioned telephone all offer ways to connect you with your loved ones, so you’re not grieving in isolation. Keep talking and sharing with one another. Planning a memorial event can help those who are unable to attend a funeral have an opportunity to say goodbye. Lighting candles at a set time and sharing photos with one another also shows solidarity. You could even set up a Facebook group to share photos and memories that can later be used at a memorial service. 
 
If you’re struggling with a loss of someone from COVID-19, or you’ve lost a loved one during this time and can’t say goodbye, we have Grief Recovery Specialists you can speak to in real time via weblink. Click here for our online directory. 
Have you ever heard the expression, “Little donkeys have big ears!”? 
 
We’re not for a moment comparing children to donkeys but the same principle applies! Children pick up and hear far more than we give them credit for. They hear snippets of adult conversations and can hear the news blaring from television sets and radios. They spent their last couple of weeks at school learning to wash their hands to funny songs because of ‘the virus’. Put it this way, it would have been hard to shield them from any kind of knowledge of the Coronavirus. 
Talking to Children about Coronavirus
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