Grief & Mental Health

 

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I called in to a BBC radio show of Dotun Adebayo early morning on Christmas Day 2019. The subject of the show was »What does “Christmas spirit” mean to you?«. One of the questions was, if more people are alone at Christmas than it used to be, and what people’s experience is with Christmas in general. As I was up, I just called in. It was my first time calling a proper radio program.

I told my story on a podcast before, but never on radio. And I only scratched the surface here.

(My losses happened in a span of 3 years, not 5 years, I just spoke from looking back on 5 years. It all just started 5 years ago from the time of this radio call-in.)

In this program I left Pret out as the subject of grief, death and loss is already “heavy” enough for a few minutes radio segment on Christmas Day! I spoke about grief and how times have changed today where people in grief are “shunned” in general, but especially at Christmas. But grief isn’t always this gloomy thing that needs to drag people down. And it’s a glimpse how other countries incorporate it into life … because it is part of life.

One question the host asked was about people being uncomfortable over the Christmas time with somebody that is grieving, that part of the “discomfort” that people are not sure about is, that grieving is a mournful downward spirit (compared to the Christmas spirit), and they’re celebrating when you have suffered a loss etc. My response was that we have forgotten, or never learned, how normal loss, death and grief is.

But I want to add something, as in that moment of a live call-in on a radio show you can’t think of everything, but I want to add that death, loss and grief IS “uncomfortable” ALL THE TIME, throughout the year for EVERYONE who hasn’t been touched with loss yet! Not only on Christmas! If death, grief and loss was treated “normal” throughout society, it would be completely normal to have a grieving person around on Christmas.

And also when people think of themselves as being uncomfortable with a grieving person, how do you think the grieving person is feeling?! The grieving person THEMSELVES are in the MOST uncomfortable moment! They are uncomfortable for a long, long time, maybe even forever. But the griever is always expected to have empathy and understanding for those who have a “happy” life, who are not grieving!

Hello?

Also,I understand what the radio host meant when he said that we are not alone, as others are going through grief as well. But that doesn’t help anyone when they are ALONE! You might as well then shut the door to the world as we are all going through the same stuff and are therefore not alone! No sir! Many, many people are LEFT ALONE in their worst hell.

And it seems like a grieving person is like a smelly homeless person or a person with leprosy. We think their “illness” or “stench” jumps over to us. We think their sadness will make us sad, or their stench will make us stink. And this, in a nutshell, is what the radio host was talking about.*

But THIS is basically due to us having lost the dynamic of life; the fact that death is part of life. Illness is part of life. A grieving friend should be part of life. If you have to ask a grieving person to have understanding for people who enjoy life and don’t want to be bothered about death and grieving, then you already have shut out that grieving person.

And I don’t know what happened that I didn’t end up on the streets, homeless or physically sick after having lost friends, because you lose friends when you lose people to death. Not to mention what Pret put me through. I don’t know how I survived.

But I am researching on how different countries deal with death and grief. And I also now started researching how people respond to workplace bullying, especially during grief.

The other thing that people in today’s society are more concerned about is, their upward spirit, and not the grieving process. Grieving people are expected to have understanding, while those who have a normal life exempt themselves to get a quick way out.

If death and grief was “normalized” we wouldn’t be worried and we would be normal about it. And everyone would be included in life, no matter if at Christmas time or anytime throughout the year.

Lastly, as a little side-note, I can see the statistics of which pages are visited everyday, which are most visited etc. And my blog actually started out as a grief-blog. I initially posted photo-slides/videos and poems about/for my brother. Then about a year after, I started writing extensively about Pret. I deleted a lot of the video-slides, so as not to have my website too cluttered. I just kept a few pages for/about my brother. But I found that the grief pages are the LEAST visited, even though it’s visible on the home page to click on.

This is fine, no-one needs to read or watch anything personal related to my loss, but it is an interesting statistic as to what people look for or avoid. So, I really want to do some extensive research on the different cultures as I mentioned in the radio call in, on how people in different countries deal with pain as well as how it was in the past.

Thank you for reading and / or listening.

*Leprosy is not as contagious these days with all the medication we have today! Leprosy or AIDS just has become a metaphor for an un-treatable illness we’re scared of. And the smell of a homeless person in reality means, they’re still alive, but we don’t know how to help our fellow man, woman and friend to get clean and healthy again. Grief, stay away from us, especially on Christmas, the holiday of love.

No-one understands trauma.

In memory of my big brother Thomas.

 


 

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