Bereavement blog

Silence surrounding death

In our confessional society it seems we are happy to talk about sex or money, success, failure - almost anything in fact - but on death we are pretty silent. This often adds to the suffering of bereaved people.

Although we all know people who have died and know that we will ourselves die, there is a silence born of a fear of death that can prevent us from responding to grief in others – and it can also encourage us to not fully grieve ourselves.

We feel we should not show our pain and suffering; that we should achieve ‘closure’ on our most profound losses. We are encouraged in this by the congratulations from others for how ‘strong’ we are being. Many people who have had someone close to them die feel that the sympathetic friends and family who soon after the death were supportive, are much less so several months on. The implicit message is often clear – ‘time to move on’.

And yet how many of us remain deeply affected for years, decades, probably forever, by the death of someone close to us? We will forever remember where we were, what we were doing when the person we loved was dying or died.

As national bereavement charity CRUSE, advises:

No one can tell you how or when the intensity of your grief will lessen; only you will know when this happens. It is not unusual for bereaved people to think they are finally moving towards acceptance only to experience the strong and often unwelcome emotions they experienced shortly after the death.

“Life will never be the same again after a bereavement, but the grief and pain should lessen. There should come a time when you are able to adapt and adjust and cope with life without the person who has died. The pain of bereavement has been compared to that of losing a limb. We may adapt to life without the limb but we continue to feel its absence. When a person we are close to dies we can find meaning in life again, but without forgetting their meaning for us
Keith Ewing