As I write this 22 people have lost their lives in something none of us can make sense of.
In the aftermath, as a country, we watched families looking for loved ones, we saw their grief and pain, we cried for them and those who lives will never be the same. As a country we stand together and mourn for the city of Manchester.
Maybe we asked why? Why them? Why there?
Why not me?
After such an horrific violent act, we all take stock and re- evaluate our own lives. For many of us, it’s a hugely positive step and a reaffirmation of wanting to live and wanting to change our lives and do something – anything – to make this world a little better.
For some people, already feeling low, it might add to that sense of despair and guilt – why not me? For Ariana Grande her sense of guilt must be overwhelming - and perhaps we too feel guilty that we are alive?
When someone dies we go through a variety of emotions: denial (the shock of it), anger (why them? I want someone to pay), bargaining (trying to find a way out. perhaps if you have a faith you will make promises to your god), depression (feeling very low as you miss the person), testing (trying to see what life might be like now the person is no longer there), acceptance (finding a new way of life without them – living with the pain).
There is no set way of grieving; many of us will go backwards and forwards between each stage; some of us may find ourselves stuck in a stage feeling like life will never change and we can’t move forward; others may want to try and carry on as if they have ‘dealt with it’….there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It takes as long as it takes, you need to give yourself time to work it through, you need to be able to talk to someone when you feel able, you need to be able to say truthfully how you are feeling.
The Manchester bombings rightly have a huge media focus, but sometimes, if we are struggling with our own low feelings, we might need to be careful about watching or reading too much about it – you will know what you can manage and when you need to switch off.
Grieving as a nation is pretty new in our culture. It wasn’t until Princess Diana died that we saw a huge switch from the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture (where, no matter how sad you were, you didn’t show it), to showing open grief and pain. We can take comfort in knowing that the isolation of grief in this tragedy is broken: we grieve together.
However, if you are also grieving for a loved one, a broken relationship, a lost parent through parental separation – that is also valid grief. No one person’s grief weighs more than another’s.
- Give yourself time – work through low feelings of guilt in whatever way you find helpful (writing, drawing, exercising, cuddling your pet…)
- Find someone to talk to (often if a family member has died, someone outside the family might be easier for you to talk to)
- Be truthful about how grief is effecting you (if you are struggling with self-harm in your grief, get in touch with us at SelfharmUK, we can support you).