For one reason or another, I’m speaking a lot about grief at the moment. Yesterday I was interviewed on Build Series, with James Dunmore and Nick Ede, discussing the complicated issue of death and the grieving process. Tonight I’ll be speaking at a live event at the Devonshire Club, again with Nick and James, as well as Jeff Brazier, discussing the same subject. Both events are in aid of Grief Encounter, a charity that provides therapy and support to bereaved children and families. Losing my dad at the age of 30 was hard enough, but a child who experiences death need specialist and personalised support. Grief Encounter’s work is urgent and imperative and I’m happy to help them in any way I can.
I have learnt that grief doesn’t go away. The death of someone you love isn’t something you get over, like you would the loss of a relationship or a job. Of course, there are any number of life changing events that are deeply painful and difficult, but one does, eventually, move on. Grief’s intensity ebbs and flows like the tide, but never leaves.
This is scary for someone who’s recently joined the club of which no one wants to be a member. I remembered wondering if that searing pain would be my new normal. I felt that I would be continually blindsided by grief, that attacked me like a swarm of bees. However, after 5 years I can say that it does get easier. After a while, I made friends with my grief.
I’ve managed with my grief in a number of ways, some methods have been considerably less healthy than others. The knowledge that has given me the most comfort is that grief is the cost of love. The only thing that is worth a damn in this transient world is love and it’s a privilege to have people in my life who I cherish and adore. Although Dad’s loss is still heartbreaking, I would rather pay the toll than not love at all.
Love does not wither and die with the fallible human body; it pulls up and easy chair and makes itself good and comfortable in the heart. Sometimes when I’m struggling, I speak to Dad in my mind. When I’m about to go on stage or I’m facing some challenge I say I need you now, stand next to me. I don’t believe in ghosts but somehow, I become a braver and a more powerful version of myself. I suppose I’m accessing the strength he gave me. I’m remembering how he believed in me and how much he loved me.
Talking about Dad is still difficult; during the Build interview I was doing my upmost not to tremble. I hope that speaking about him is helpful to others, because grief is one of life’s inevitabilities. If we adults can become more comfortable with the realities of death and grief, we will be more able to support and love our children through their darkest hours.