Where to begin with this subject?

It is so vast, a brief section of this website could never do it justice, nor begin to explore the immensity of the human experience we name as grief.

Grief is unavoidable for all of us – as the much-quoted phrase says, ‘grief is the price we pay for love’, and the more intense the love during life, the deeper the emotional impact when the person loved dies. Trying to describe grief is as difficult as trying to describe love – we grasp for words to articulate these deepest of emotions.

There are endless books written on the subject despite the impossibility of capturing the hugeness of grief in words – we feature some of the ones we like best in our bookshop here. Some may resonate with you, while others may leave you untouched. It is all so very subjective. Grief is something that can only be truly understood by experience, and every experience will be different.

Your grief will be unique to you and to the person you love, to your relationship with them. It will be defined by your history, your culture and your community, your beliefs and your experiences. You will grieve differently for different people, your grief will be coloured and shaped by who has died, how they died, the role they had in your life and how their absence affects your future.

Your grief will be hued – perhaps magnified – by your circumstances, by who you have around you, by the reaction of others, by the support you receive, by the expectations people have of you – by the very structures and norms of the society within which we all exist.

This is why this section of our website is almost impossible to write, because ultimately the one thing to know is that there is no right way of grieving, there’s no ‘normal’. The mythical ‘Five stages of Grief’ don’t exist in the way they have become common parlance (Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about these ‘stages’ with reference to people receiving a terminal diagnosis, but they have become misappropriated to incorrectly describe the grieving process).  

There is no neat progress through grieving, no ‘getting over’ the loss, just a gradual adjustment to a new life without the person in it. And this can take as long as it takes, there’s no way of knowing how long the process of creating a new normality will take.

As psychotherapist and author Megan Devine so wisely says, “Some things cannot be fixed; they can only be carried. Grief like yours, love like yours, can only be carried.” Megan’s website, Refuge in Grief offers insightful observations and reassurance for people who are grieving, and advice and suggestions for those who care for them.

To help with the burden of carrying your grief, you may want to find others who are experiencing a similar kind of grief to you. Often bereaved people remark on how lonely it can be living with grief, so talking to, interacting with, or reading posts by others who are going through the same kind of experience might help you feel less alone.

Parents whose child has died, for example, might find some solace in connecting with other parents through The Compassionate Friends, while families affected by the death of a baby may find SANDS a useful organisation for resources and support groups.

Child Bereavement UK offers support for families when a child dies or if a child is grieving. Widowed and Young offers a peer support network to anyone who has lost a partner before their 51st birthday,  If someone has died by suicide, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide also offer resources and signposting, as well as support groups, while Support after Murder and Manslaughter provides a similar service for people bereaved in this way.

Social media offers all kinds of communities for people who have been bereaved. Surprisingly, perhaps, one of the best social media platforms for finding communities of people who are willing to share their thoughts and feelings about grieving is Instagram. It may be the simplicity of the visual imagery of Insta posts that appeals to people, especially those who are finding it hard to concentrate on reading articles or books following a bereavement.

We particularly like posts by Megan Devine @refugeingrief and grief coach Mira Simone @newmoonmira but there are many, many others who have created profiles and communities where you can find people willing to share what’s happening in their new, grieving lives. (If you’re new to Insta, simply follow a profile that is of interest to you like one of the two mentioned above, then look at the accounts they follow and read comments left on their posts, you’ll soon find other people who have similar interests who you can follow too).

Good general online resources are out there if you look – we especially love Jane and Jimmy Edmonds ’ The Good Grief Project’ as a resource for inspiration and support. Jane and Jimmy have dedicated themselves to changing the landscape and language of grief after losing their son Josh in a road accident in Vietnam in 2011.

Another recommended resource is Life. Death. Whatever. who have a series of observations called Five Things – their Five Things about grief are easily digestible personal reflections from people who have experienced bereavement of all kinds.

GriefChat offers live, instant chat with a qualified bereavement counsellor Monday to Friday between 09.00 – 21.00, while At a Loss is a UK bereavement signposting website with lots of useful information and resources. Similarly, the  Good Grief Trust is a helpful signposting website for bereavement resources, while the well-known Cruse Bereavement Support offers various kinds of support including online chat, a helpline and more than 80 local support services across the UK.

Whether or not you seek out support, experiencing grief can fundamentally change your outlook on life, and the people that are in it. 

Ultimately, what is important to hold on to is that there is no right way of grieving. You do your grief in the way that you need to, the way that you need to. Nobody can teach you; nobody can take the pain away; this is something that you – and only you – can carry. 

Others can walk alongside you as you go forward into time that your person does not share, but that’s all they can do, accompany you. Some people may be able to share your path with you, others may fall away. All of that is part of this experience of living and loving and losing.

The hard work of grieving is yours alone. 

It is, for better or for worse, the price of having loved.


To read a personal account of the experience of grieving written by Fran, the CEO of the good funeral guide, follow this link to the Absolute Beginner series of blog posts.

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