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Continuing to be heard

Dying Matters Week 2020: ‘Dying to be Heard’

The continuing need to be listened to and to be heard following bereavement…

No matter how long it’s been since you were bereaved, there is no ‘end’ to the grieving process. It’s to be expected that we continue to want to talk about the person, to remember, to reminisce, to share memories, or to feel sad.

At the time of your loss, you might have had offers or opportunities to talk about your feelings – both with friends and family or perhaps with a bereavement support worker. It’s quite normal to continue to feel the need for extra help, or a listening ear, from time to time, or at any time, even years later. Certain things such as birthdays, anniversaries, revisiting a favourite place or a familiar perfume may trigger difficult thoughts and feelings.

You might fear that those around you no longer wish to hear what you have to say about your loss or that you might be judged for still wanting to talk about it. We would encourage you to find someone who you feel comfortable with, to talk to in an open way about how you’re feeling. This person might be a family member, a friend, a GP, a counsellor or someone from your faith community (if you have one), or the Sobell bereavement service. It is important to acknowledge whatever it is you’re feeling and not to hesitate to seek support when you feel you need to.

If you’re wondering how you can help someone who needs to talk, here are some things to bear in mind when listening:

  • Listen quietly
  • Allow them time to talk, try not to rush them
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Allow them to tell you what it’s like for them
  • Don’t talk about your own experience; you might discourage the person from sharing and they might feel that you are not interested in their experience
  • Resist the impulse to ask too many questions
  • If the person is sad, don’t try to cheer them up or fix anything
  • Don’t be afraid of silence