Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A blog post-bereavement: Briefly sympathetic

It has been quite some time since I have written for my blog. The gap relates to a bereavement and I have felt that I couldn't put 'pen to paper'. As you read on I will be interested in your reactions. I imagine that you will think that I have lost a close relative given that I have needed some time away from writing publicly. But no, my friend and colleague is the person who died. I met him just over 15 years ago when we both started on our first day on a new job. We connected immediately and regularly met for coffee, at the photocopier and in passing to discuss our work, our studies, our children and our lives. He was very important to me and I was privileged when he did my leaving speech - a personal and direct account of our friendship. What has been interesting to me is that his death has played on my mind every day for the past few weeks - in ways that I have not experienced before. There are lots of reasons for my reaction, but from an intellectual perspective I have been fascinated by the reaction from others. Yes, people have been briefly sympathetic. When I told my other friends or family they expressed concern, checked whether I was ok...... and then mostly never mentioned it again. Strange, because what I wanted to do was to talk about him and about what he meant to me - and about the gap that he has left in my life. But I feel that I don't have the 'right' to feel this, or the 'right' to keep talking about it. I think that this is partly that our friendship was very much located in the workplace rather than in social situations, but I do wonder whether the reactions would have been very much different if we had enjoyed social situations together.

So, what about others in similar situations? In 1996 Walter's article clearly articulates the need for 'conversation' to facilitate the process of bereavement and the embedding of the memory of the person into our ongoing lives. However, I have struggled to find other literature that tells me something more about the process of bereavement in my kind of situation. There is lots about adolescents, siblings, elderly, HIV, grief generally - but (in my brief search) nothing more about the specific situation I have become interested in. I guess that's all I really needed to say or do - the thinking and the writing down of those thoughts. But when I think about nursing education, my one particular situation does raise questions about how we discuss people's reactions to grief and how we ensure that nurses are not afraid to broach the subject with patients, relatives, colleagues and (hopefully) in their own personal lives.

I finish here with a quiet tribute to my friend and know that I have embedded his memory into my ongoing life.