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, and the show plays from 1am-4am, I just called in. It was my first time calling a radio program.

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

Link to program

(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 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 “normal” throughout society, it would be completely normal to have a grieving person around on Christmas.

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 person who is grieving and in their hell. 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.

*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.

 

In memory of my big brother Thomas.

 


 

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