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This month marks the first anniversary of the death of HRH Prince Philip.  For the Queen and other bereaved families, this year will have been filled with many “firsts”.  From the big events to the simplest of routines.  Each day may present a first for someone facing loss.

We work closely with families during the most difficult days when they have to arrange a loved one’s final farewell.  For some it was anticipated and there had been some degree of preparation.  For others it was unexpected and they’re dealing not just with loss but the shock of it.  We see families who appear to be dealing with the arrangements well and others who are broken.  Over the course of the first year after the funeral, these positions may be reversed and those that appeared strong at the outset falter as others grow in their ability to cope.  Bereavement is a unique experience for which there is no rule-book.

With years of experience in supporting bereaved families, we understand this.

The year of firsts is a tough one.  Anniversaries emerge with alarming frequency: the first weekend, the first month, the first quarter.  Milestone moments around which we have celebrations can shine a spotlight on a loved one’s absence.  There’s a saying that the first year of grief is the hardest.  And for some that’s absolutely true.  They will cope better as time goes on.  But it’s not always the case for others.  Our experience is that coping comes one day at a time, building your own strength in your own way.  Adapting to a loss is possible as firsts will be replaced by seconds and so on.

Grief can come in waves and back to the point about how people change, it’s expected that a good moment may not last and it’s also true that a bad moment will also pass.  Sometimes it’s the most unexpected, smallest thing, sound or smell that triggers our grief.

Accepting and allowing these feelings is normal and healthy.  It’s natural to cherish memories and to keep a legacy alive.  Understanding this goes a long way to help navigate the roadmap of firsts.  A wise man told us, and we share this widely, that grief is like a rough stone in your pocket.  When we feel overwhelmed, we hold the stone tightly and over time, the rough edges become smoother.  They don’t go away but the stone does lose it’s edges. Over time, these edges fade and the stone is smooth to hold.  We’re like that too – it’s going to take time to smooth rough edges and that’s okay.

If we can help with talking, or sharing any of our free bereavement resources including books and counselling referrals if required, for any age, please reach out to us.  We’re available on the phone, or in the branch, or drop us an email.

Crucially in this year of firsts, you’re not alone.