Fiona Duff: Coping with grief put into words

A friend died recently and we were preparing to go to the funeral one morning. Our daughter, watching her father adjust his black tie, said: 'I suppose there must be a time when you go to more funerals than weddings'.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 7:40 am
Shattered cast Nicola Roy (Lucy), Gavin Jon Wright (Ben), Kirsty Findlay (Katy) and Nebli Basani (Tom) Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic

The sad fact is that this happened quite some time ago, especially for my husband.

But talking about death is one thing that us Brits aren’t too good at doing. We go to funerals and acknowledge the passing of a friend or relative, but what about those who are left behind?

Losing someone leaves a huge gap in one’s life and sometimes even those closest to you don’t quite know what to do. The result is a sense of isolation; being left alone in a sea of grief and no sign of a lifeboat to take you somewhere safe.

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There’s a play on at the Rose Street Theatre next Wednesday that we should all go and see.

Shattered is based on conversations with people who have lost loved ones and the feelings they experienced in the following months and years. The latter is important because you cannot put a timeline on grief – there’s no time to say, “Well, that’s it, you will be fine now and put all that behind you”.

At virtually any age we will have experienced some sort of loss of someone or something that was a big part of our life.

One woman I know whose dog died very suddenly told me that she had cried more over him than she had over her grandmother’s death.

I had a sister who died out of time – growing up I had never considered that she wouldn’t be here in her mid-50s. She was a rock and the strongest woman I have ever known.

But people didn’t really know what to say as the death of a sibling is not something that is acknowledged like that of a partner, parent or child.

It probably took me about four years before I felt right again, although the sadness of her not being here will live on forever.

So go to the play– you might weep, but that’s not just OK, it’s good.