How the Grief Kind campaign helped me after my Dad died
When Tracy’s dad, Daniel Fleming, died suddenly 10 years ago she had just started a new job. Struggling with her grief, Tracy found it difficult to cope or express how she was feeling but still remembers the kindness shown to her by colleagues. Tracy is determined to show the same kindness and support to others who have been bereaved and has welcomed the launch of Sue Ryder’s Grief Kind campaign.
When my dad passed away it was very hard for me to try and resume normal life. When I saw Sue Ryder’s Grief Kind campaign I just thought this is amazing. It just spoke to me, particularly the fact that there is a lot of support and content for people supporting somebody who has been bereaved, helping them to get that deeper understanding.
I listened to the Grief Kind podcasts initially because I found them very accessible. It was something I felt I could dip in and out of. There were certain things I picked out from each one and I do think it’s important to highlight those different perspectives because everyone’s experience of grief is different. There isn’t an end date.
Finding out my Dad had died
When my dad passed away he was living in Cornwall and we hadn’t seen each other for quite some time. My husband, who is a police officer, had to give me the death message at my workplace. It floored me for quite some time and it was obviously difficult for my husband trying to support me.
There’s an expectation that people should just carry on and get back to work. I tried to go back to work but just found I was upset all the time and couldn’t speak to customers when I needed to be able to think clearly and keep it together.
My company were actually fantastic. I will always be grateful for the empathy and the kindness my manager showed me.
One of the kindest things somebody said to me is, ‘you will be able to smile again’ and that is something I have never forgotten. Even if you don’t know what to say I think it’s being able to say to someone, I’ve been there – probably not the same experience but perhaps similar feelings – and if you ever just want to sit and have a cup of tea I’m here, even if we just talk about what we’ve watched on the TV.
Learning how to live with grief
I spoke to a bereavement counsellor once a week and it took me months to be able to say I missed my dad. Because he lived so far away it’s almost like I didn’t feel entitled to say that. When you’re grieving it’s often not just about the person who has died, a lot of things can change. Everyone feels they have an entitlement to that person and sometimes the death of a loved one can be clouded by all the other things which can make people do and say things that they wouldn’t usually.
The thing that really stood out for me about the Grief Kind campaign is that it is support for the people who are supporting people who have been bereaved. There are lots of little things we can do. Just listening is so important and just checking in regularly. You can listen to people without feeling like you need to have the solution.
Bereavement doesn’t follow a pattern and because grief is different for everybody it can be difficult to know what to say, even as someone who has gone through it.
You don’t want to upset people, especially while they’re at work, but just because people seem to be getting on doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. The Grief Kind masterclasses are a good idea too. Having the video format helps people who would prefer to watch rather than read. It makes the content more accessible.
Being Grief Kind at work
I would like to see something like Grief Kind as an initiative within business and see training for managers rolled out. There will always be situations where staff members have experienced a bereavement and it would help managers to be sensitive to their needs. They should be asking, what can we do as a business to support that person? Is there a culture of kindness? Does everyone rally round? Are there open conversations and that reassurance if you don’t feel better after two weeks? It’s about giving people the tools and information - it shouldn’t just be left to organisations like Sue Ryder to start these conversations.
I had only been in my job for six months when my dad passed away. Nobody wants to be the person sitting at work crying and often you don’t know how you are going to feel day-to-day. There is an assumption that everyone has their family around them to help but some people are actually quite isolated. Sometimes you can help someone on a particular day just by reaching out with a coffee and a kind word.
With the right help, we can learn to live with grief. Find out how Sue Ryder can help you to become Grief Kind and support people you care about who are coping with grief.