Dear Annie: A loved one of mine died more than four years ago and their death didn’t seem to greatly affect me emotionally at the time. I coped. Now though, I am feeling the grief more than ever. Why is this happening now? – EH
Annie says: I can really imagine that it must feel quite a shock to be experiencing such intense feelings of loss for your relative, after some years of feeling like you were okay.
People grieve in their own way, and in their own time. It may be that you simply weren’t ready to feel these feelings four years ago, perhaps because of your circumstances at the time. Or it may be that something has happened in your life recently that has triggered your response to the loss of your relative. For example, hearing about another loss, no matter how distant, can often stir things up.
What’s important is to remember that it’s never too late to grieve. And whilst it may be challenging now in the sense that people around might be confused, and won’t be expecting you to need support, I would encourage you to share this as much as possible, and reach out.
There is no cut off point at which you are no longer allowed to ask for help. You have just as much right to support now as you did in the weeks and months after your relative’s death.
The more we can all share our own unique experiences of grief, whether it’s feeling it several years later, or feeling angry for a long time – whatever it may be – the greater society’s wider understanding of grief will become. As awareness grows, the more equipped we’ll be to help those who are grieving.
If you’ve lost someone close to you, or been affected by a bereavement, psychotherapist Annie Broadbent is here to help. If you have a question for her to answer in this column, write to her at DearAnnie@funeralguide.com
Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.
She is the author of bestselling self-help book We Need to Talk About Grief, inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.