Dear Annie: Why do I not want to move forward? I feel like I can't leave my son.
Annie says: In a sense you have answered your own question here. As you say, moving on feels like you would be leaving your son. Why would you want to do that? It is entirely understandable you feel this way. There is something frightening about the idea of life returning to normal after the death of someone we love. Many people ask themselves, if life can be OK without them, what does that say about how I feel about them?
I would encourage you to let go of the idea of 'moving on'. It's not a very helpful way of thinking about grief as it implies there being a moment when we get over the loss of our loved one and suddenly become OK. It doesn't work like this. Your son, his life and death will always be a part of you – you will always carry him with you.
Over time, the distance between you and your grief will grow, as you experience new things, and life continues, but he will never not be a part of you. Try not to rush. I know that sometimes there feels an external pressure to move on and start feeling better, but there is no deadline. You have your own unique journey of grief, so let it unfold as it wants to.
Dear Annie: I attended a funeral today of a lady without any family, who was cared for by a friend of mine who became her next of kin and read her eulogy today. I wanted to support my friend and, if I’m honest, add to the low numbers of mourners who would attend her service. I had heard a lot about this lady but had never actually met her.
I find funerals very difficult and always cry apart from my Grandma’s funeral which I organised two years ago. I feel so sad now and wish I could be less affected by death and funerals. Any advice would be appreciated.
Annie says: Given that you know how impacted by funerals you are, it was very courageous of you to attend this funeral to support your friend. So, well done. Without knowing more about your experience of funerals it is hard to give much useful advice. It does sound like there's something about funerals, death and grief that triggers something in you and so I find myself curious about your experience of death and grief throughout your life. Could there be something unresolved that needs addressing?
I understand your wish to be less affected, but until you know why it affects you so much it's unlikely it will simply go away. If you're willing, it might be something you choose to explore more deeply with the support of a professional, or if not, with a close friend you feel very safe with. And don't forget, your life can be deeply enriched and enlightened by consciously making death and grief a part of it.
If you have a question for Annie to answer in this column, you can 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.