Lost and found

This month, Sarah Pavey from the Wellbeing Team talks about dealing with grief...
 

 Various images for ITSB July

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.” – Anne Frank

I like to think about life as one giant Lost and Found Department. You lose something… then you find it again. Or you find something different. Possibly something unexpected. Perhaps something wonderful.

When your first tooth falls out, the Tooth Fairy brings you a reward. When you leave a job, you start a new, more fulfilling role. When you shed a couple of pounds, you treat yourself to a delicious slice of chocolate cake and a glass of bubbles. And then you find that you’ve “found” more than you lost... or maybe that’s just me!

But what if you lose a person you love? 

When you lose someone close to you, you know, deep down, that you’re not going to find them again… even if you still see them everywhere you look. You don’t want to find a replacement. And you can’t believe that you’ll ever find any positives in the situation. 

The Grief Cycle describes the common stages that occur after a loss:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

Most people will experience at least some of these stages, possibly not in the same order, nor over the same time frame, and unlikely in the same ways. We’re all wonderfully individual and our brains all work differently, so we deal with things in our own ways, using the mental and physical resources we have available. 

I wish I could say that there’s a quick fix way to fast-track you through the stages, to speed up the process, or to make it any less painful. But I’m not sure there is. 

I’ve experienced several periods of grief and loss over the past few years, and each was unique. Personally, I tend to get “stuck” for a while in the “Bargaining” stage: “I could have done more…”, “What if I’d done this differently…?”, or “I should’ve seen, noticed, or helped…”. But, eventually, I know that these feelings will give way to “Acceptance”, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is to get there. 

As it’s the final stage of the Grief Cycle, we all wish that we could skip ahead to “Acceptance”. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut, no fork in the road that’ll get you to your destination ahead of time. Not before you’re ready. But when you do finally arrive... you might reflect and realise that you’ve actually reached life’s Lost and Found Department. And here’s why.

You’ve lost someone, or something, vitally important to you. You don’t see how you could live without them. You’ll never forget and you’ll never replace what you’ve lost. You’ll never want to and you don’t need to. But on the journey through the Grief Cycle, you might actually discover that there are some unexpected positives to be found. 

Various images for ITSB July

Perhaps you find that you’re the type of person to reach out and share your thoughts and emotions with others. You finally appreciate the age-old adage, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” Or maybe you discover that you prefer to reflect inwardly and work through your feelings on your own, before facing the world again when you’ve begun to heal. You might even find that a combination of both approaches is most effective for you. There’s no right or wrong. 

If you share your feelings with others, you’ll likely discover the vital importance and value of the support of those around you. Perhaps it comes from an unexpected source? Maybe it brings you much closer to those who care about you? Or possibly you discover the kindness of strangers?

If you like to deal with things privately, you’ll likely find an inner strength that you didn’t know you possessed. Maybe you weren’t aware that you had such determination to survive and thrive? Perhaps you uncover your ability to focus and reflect? Or possibly you develop new coping strategies and techniques that you can use in the future?

Most importantly, you realise, or are reminded of, what’s really important to you and you hold the things you care about that little bit closer. It puts the things you’ve possibly taken for granted into perspective. It makes you realise how lucky you are, despite what you’ve lost, despite the pain you’ve felt and the difficulties you’ve overcome. 

As Anne Frank said, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.” Loss is miserable. It’s hard and painful and you don’t see how it can ever get better. But it won’t feel that way forever. You’ll never forget what you’ve lost, but you will find healthy, happy ways to remember, to move forward in a new direction, and to embrace the unexpected positives you find along the way. And you never know, maybe you’ll find a delicious slice of chocolate cake and a glass of bubbles in the Lost and Found Department when you get there?

Useful Information

You can find more information on the Grief Cycle, bereavement, and further resources on the Mind website: 

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/bereavement/experiences-of-grief/

Don’t forget that you can contact the Employee Assistance Program (provided by Health Assured) at any time:

  1. Call: 0800 030 5182
  2. Download the App: Search for My Healthy Advantage in your app store and create an account. You’ll need the code ZGIP.
  3. Web: Access the Health and Wellbeing Portal through https://healthassuredeap.co.uk and use these login details:

Username: GIP

Password: EAP

As an RYA team member, you also have access to the Bereavement and Probate Helplines:

Call: 0800 069 8856

Bereavement Counselling – How Can it help?

  • Provide you with support strategies to manage anxiety or other mental health issues.
  • Referral to bereavement support groups.
  • A dedicated listening service to help you cope with grief.
  • Referral to a therapy resource for continued support.
  • Support in understanding and coping with the loss of a loved one.

Probate Helpline – How Can it help?

  • Explaining the process for obtaining probate after a death.
  • Providing guidance to help deal with legal, financial and tax issues following death.
  • Helping the employee or family navigate the administrative issues resulting from a death.

Various images for ITSB July

Your RYA Wellbeing colleagues are also here to help. Whether you want a quick chat or some specific advice, we’ll do our best to support you and point you towards helpful resources:

Vaughan Marsh

Vaughan.Marsh@rya.org.uk

Sarah Pavey

Sarah.Pavey@rya.org.uk

Andrea Gates

Andrea.Gates@rya.org.uk

Olivia Wells

Olivia.Wells@rya.org.uk

Katie Loucaides

Katie.Loucaides@rya.org.uk

Cat Ferguson

Catherine.Ferguson@rya.org.uk

Deb Cornick

Deborah.Cornick@rya.org.uk

Cherie Dodd

Cherie.Dodd@rya.org.uk

Jess Beecher

Jessica.Beecher@rya.org.uk

Niki Paton

Niki.Paton@rya.org.uk

Kirsty Knight

Kirsty.Knight@rya.org.uk