Posts tagged “Invisible Losses”

As people around the world celebrate International Pride Month, it’s a great opportunity to shed light on some of the issues facing the LGBTQ community in terms of grief and loss. 
From the very beginning, many people report the loss of identity that occurs when questioning their sexuality or realising that they have an identity other than the heterosexual one that is usually expected by their parents and the society at large. Furthermore, there may be a loss of hopes, dreams and expectations when realising that marriage and starting a family may be made much more challenging by regulations that do not yet support non-heterosexual couples. 
Loss of identity faced by LGBT
 
Whether it be to a new home, a new school, or to a different country, all of us will have moved at some point in our lives. 
 
Many moves happen during childhood, when young families expand and build homes, experience a job transfer, or find a better suited school for their children. Well-meaning parents, anticipating that the move may be difficult, scary or painful for their child, try to ward off any negative feelings by making positive, hopeful statements. 
 
Alone on your birthday? Valentine’s Day? New Year's Eve? 
 
Some special days and events are powerful reminders of the fact that someone very important is missing from our life. Valentine's Day, like birthdays and anniversaries, is one of those very special days that can create an immense amount of painful emotional energy. 
 
For those of us who have lost a partner, are looking for love, are divorced, or may not have the relationship of our dreams, the flood of images and sentimental relationship posts on social media may be overwhelming and exacerbate our feelings of loneliness. 
You didn’t get that job. 
They didn’t accept your offer on the house. 
 
You may regard these disappointments as “just a part of life”. Nevertheless, they can still affect us deeply. We may ask ourselves why we’re so bothered about something we never really had in the first place. Why is that? Why can’t we get over it? 
 
This weekend mothers all over the UK will be receiving gifts from their children and partners to celebrate motherhood. We would like to look at the holiday from a less common perspective, acknowledging those who may be experiencing more painful emotions than happy ones on Mothering Sunday. 
 
Some of us may find this occasion difficult to celebrate because we have never been able to experience motherhood even though it has been one of our hopes and dreams. 
 
Others may struggle with this day because motherhood has not been everything they expected it to be. 
This week I’m exhibiting at the National Conference in Pregnancy and Infant Loss, designed for professional services to collaborate, to ensure high levels of bereavement care. From working with experienced professionals, as well as bereaved parents, it’s clear that pregnancy and infant loss is still very much a taboo subject. 
 
At the frontline of parental grief, how can professional services be best equipped to support parents who have lost an infant? Currently mothers get very little support, and fathers are more often than not completely forgotten. 
 
In my experience many parents who have suffered the loss of a child don’t feel able to move beyond initial grief. The idea that you’ll “never get over” the death of a child is a common piece of misinformation, potentially leading to parents seeking out information and emotions to match. In addition, couples can become angry with each other, as inevitably we all grieve in our individual ways, and one might “be strong” to support the other but then be perceived to “not loved our baby like I did”. By providing initial support to parents and equipping them in early in their grief, professional services could have a positive effect on the long-term recovery from grief. 
 
The Grief Recovery Method was created when John James lost his three-day-old baby. While a lot has improved since then, there is still a long way to go to get the recognition for the emotional pain of any infant loss, no matter the age or gestation. 
 
The reason we will be exhibiting at the conference is to introduce professional services - midwives, ambulance services, funeral directors, police officers, and anyone else who comes into contact with these parents in the short- and long term - to the Grief Recovery Method Certification Training that we provide. We give staff and volunteers the tools to help clients appropriately, and already work with a number of organisations. The training covers a mix of classroom training, practical experience, learning materials and ongoing individual support. 
 
I don’t tend to have the radio on during the day. Some people find it helps them work, for me I get too easily distracted but at the moment there’s a radio on in the kitchen to help the guy building my new cupboards work and one tuned to a different station that the builder working outside has to help him through his day. 
 
This afternoon I experienced a bigger loss than my concentration. The news came over on the kitchen radio that Rik Mayall has died and there were audible reactions from all of us. The classics all made an appearance – disbelief, shock and immediate exclamations of “but he was our sort of age wasn’t he!” 
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