In the fourth episode of our new season of Love Life, Live Well, our host Emma Cartmell explores the journey of grief.

What do you love about your life or life itself? 

Well, I definitely do love life and what I’m gonna share about my journey with grief really proves that to me, I’m a naturally happy and positive person and what I love about life is people actually, and spending time with different types of people and contributing to people and being contributed to. I can really see that the life I have has been very created, it hasn’t happened accidentally, and it’s been created because I’ve had an interest in people and places and I’ve explored that interest and been curious, so what I love about life is the people in it.

What do you do to live well?

I think living well is really important and I think it’s often overlooked and something that I have done for nearly 20 years is personal development and self-development courses and that has created a structure for me to be able to be curious and also to be able to be very authentic and honest and know who I am. We humans, we’re just such fascinating creatures and we can carry a lot around from I learned this in the past, and so the future will be the same or we can realise that actually anything is possible and there’s nothing better in a way than making mistakes or trying something new or being in a scary situation because you get to experience, a breadth of emotion. What I’ve done to live well is make sure that I’m always learning and developing myself, and giving myself the confidence to be authentically who I am.

What’s been going on and what has your journey with grief been in the last couple of years?

Talking about grief, everybody’s journey with grief will be and is totally different and there isn’t a wrong journey that you can have with grief. I think the other thing to say is that it is a journey that each and every single one of us will go on at some point and my journey with grief was through losing my dad, who I had a wonderful relationship with, and obviously, in that journey there’s so many things that happen that are very stereotypical, that are confronting, that are scary, that are sad, but I think what we’re gonna talk about today is the things that maybe surprised me that I unearthed during that grief journey as well. A good start point is to look at how I did start my grief journey, and that was when I knew that my dad had a terminal diagnosis.

I went straight to a local bookshop and said, what books have you got around grief and dying and death? That’s very much in line with my personality as well. I love books and the bookshop gave me two really wonderful books, which was my guide, really and then I just very consciously created time and space in my life to give what I needed to as a daughter with a parent that was dying. Then afterwards to create who I was with that grief in my life, really actively giving time and space, almost making a hobby out of grieving to create who I was at that point.

How did that show up for yourself during grief? What did you do?  

That’s a really great question and for everybody, the grief journey I think will be different but I’m really happy to share some of the practical things I did to maybe give some ideas. First of all, I did make grieving a hobby and I would allocate time for it. I would almost be like, have I grieved recently? It’s easy for me to talk about now, a year or so later but at the time, I don’t know that I actively knew I was doing that.

I was fortunate in that one of my close friends was also going through grief. We created a regular time to speak every week to just check in around how our grieving was going and that gave us a space to talk about all sorts of emotions. In my experience with grief it went everywhere in my life, you couldn’t just say 9 til 9:30, I’ll do a bit of grieving. It was just everywhere. However, I did experience being able to think, do I want to grieve right now? No, I’ll just press pause for a little bit, but not for very long. I would say it’s about being very responsible in making sure that you are grieving and not sort of suppressing it. I also did a lot of journaling an reading through all the year of grieving and reading a lot and listening to podcasts of other people’s grief journey.

What is one key takeaway that you would like people to leave with in terms of this podcast or anything that you do, you know, when you’re sharing around grief? 

I think the next time that you’re with someone and they tell you they’ve had a loss, and you notice yourself going into a panic of what to say or do now, just tell yourself, that’s okay, that’s all really normal. Then say, whatever you want to say to the person that is grieving and if you need to ask how is your grieving going? How are you doing is always a good sentence, but I think the one is everyone being brave enough to speak to those who are grieving will be able to change that statistic that 85% of people will say that they are scared to talk to people who are dealing with it because they don’t know what to say and they don’t want to upset them, and yet 90% of people grieving do want to talk. There is a mismatch there and we can do our bit to close that mismatch by anyone that’s heard today’s podcast reaching out to people they know that are grieving and just saying, how are you doing? How’s your grieving going?

Listen to the podcast now here.

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