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Dear Annie: Grief's left me in darkness – where's the hope?

A grieving man is caught up in emotion as he looks through old photographs

Dear Annie: I’m not religious. My dear wife died four months ago and I’m struggling without her. I envy those who find comfort in prayer and find myself longing for some kind of hope. Please help: I’m in the dark – HF

Annie says: I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. I can only imagine what it must be like to lose one’s partner in life. Of course you are struggling. Whilst I know it won’t ease the pain, please know that it is not unusual that you are struggling – especially after only four months which is a terribly short time. In fact it is often around the four to six month mark that things can feel particularly difficult – the initial hubbub of people gathering, the shock, the funeral and admin has dwindled, and yet it is not quite the year anniversary.

It sounds as though in your longing for hope, there is something in you telling you what you need. Though you may not recognise that need from previous experience, don’t shut it out just because it’s not familiar.

It’s curious when people feel envious of those who have some kind of faith – as though they feel that they themselves are not permitted it. But you are just as worthy of and capable of finding hope and comfort in some kind of spiritual practice as anyone else and I would encourage you to listen to this longing, and explore it.

See where it takes you – there are all sorts of practices out there that suit a whole range of beliefs, values and attitudes, so I would really encourage you to listen to your heart. At the very least, you will learn a lot and you may enjoy the process.

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

About Annie

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 book Speaking of Death (What the Bereaved Really Need), 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.

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