National Period of Mourning: Time for a break?
Managing your grief experience; some of our grief specialists share their thoughts
This week has been a full immersion into grief on a national scale. It’s been constant and relentless, causing a degree of ‘grief fatigue,’ where it may have become background noise, with some feeling tired of hearing about it 24/7, or for others it’s become upsetting for a variety of reasons.
We have asked some of our grief specialists to share their thoughts, along with what you can do with any feelings of overwhelm.
Vanessa May, a holistic grief coach and author of 'Love Untethered', a book about grief and loss. said: “The relentless coverage is now taking its toll for those already grieving and, I would add, regardless of their view of the monarchy. For the elderly, who often depend on the TV for company (and probably don't have Netflix to escape to), it must feel quite overwhelming with little option to watch anything else. They will inevitably have had several losses and the Queen will have been of a similar generation. The constant news coverage can be a reminder that it will soon be their turn.
“I am in several Facebook groups for bereaved parents and the general line of thought is 'I have nothing against the Queen but she had a good long life, my child didn't.' I had a grief coaching client yesterday who also expressed this sentiment and said the relentlessness of the media coverage was making her feel worse than she already did. In terms of grief fatigue, I guess turning off the TV or radio is the obvious advice and getting out in nature etc. However, this may not be so easy for the elderly, or those in early or deep grief, who tend to use the TV for distraction,” continued Vanessa.
Like many others, Dr Victoria Wilson-Crane said she initially felt compelled, obliged and also wanted to watch all the footage (it’s a moment in history) but realised she was finding it quite draining: “I’m keeping aware but being a bit more choosy and making sure I’m still getting out, listening to unrelated podcasts, and music,” shared Victoria.
Grief specialist Teresa Mack said “Some people seem to feel obliged to follow the latest news, as if they can't give themselves permission to choose if they really want to or not, even if it becomes too stressful. They might also think that in the grand scheme of present developments, it might be disrespectful not to be part of it, or that their own problems shouldn't matter. We all matter. We all grieve for different things and all feelings are valid.”
It might be hard to understand the reasons behind such a huge national wave of feelings. Dr John Wilson, an author and counsellor specialising in loss and grief said: “The strong emotions we may feel at the death and funeral of someone public we never knew personally is because they resonate with our own experiences. Resonance is more than a poetic metaphor, it’s very real. The vibrating sensation we get from a church organ is our body physically resonating with the sound, but the sights, sounds and smells of death and funeral rituals resonate at a deeper emotional level.
“The puzzling tears we may shed at a friend’s funeral, are because the occasion resonates with previous funerals, seeking out unresolved emotions of lost loved ones. It happens, quite literally at a visceral level, outside of our logical mind. On top of this is human empathy, when we identify with the pain of others. Who can forget the face of Harry as a small boy, walking behind his mother’s coffin? I predict a huge collective swell of emotion as we see this repeated at his granny’s funeral,” continued John.
Getting outdoors is the advice of Grief Recovery Method Specialist, Karen Conway: “I would encourage people to follow the Queen’s example. She loved the outdoors and whilst at Balmoral she enjoyed connecting with nature, walking the dogs and spending time with family and friends away from the busy stresses of life.”
On the impact for those already grieving, Aoife Douglas, a Humanistic Integrative Therapist specialising in grief, said: ”I have found that some are very upset by the “attention” the Queen’s death is getting as they feel “hard done by” that their loved ones are just as important, if not more so, and ‘nobody cares.’”
Similar to when covid was the only focus in the media, Aoife has spoken with clients about changing TV and radio channels and limiting their viewing and listening time, and added: “I have spoken to clients about sitting with the feelings of uncomfortableness and allowing themselves to feel whatever they do, and working on being ok with it. I have discussed creating continuing bonds with the loved ones they are grieving, for example, creating a space in the garden,or going for a walk somewhere that they feel close to them, which also provides some time out from the relentlessness, as well as some ‘quiet’ which I encourage them to notice.
“I have encouraged my clients to talk to others about their feelings when the subject of the Queen's death comes up in conversation, even if to simply say “can we talk about something else?”. Most importantly, I have listened, heard and offered compassion and curiosity to what people are feeling, even if I do not share their opinions, and encouraged them to be curious about why they feel that they can’t share these thoughts with others, as I am noticing a sense of shame and fear of judgement around their feelings,” concluded Aoife.
Please feel free to share your feelings (without offence) on our social media pages, and you can find further support here through our network of grief professionals.