I was delighted to be invited to join the ‘cast’ of #lifedeathwhatever this week at Sutton House in Hackney to talk about my passion: grief following a bereavement. I was excited for predominantly two reasons; 1. because ordinarily no-one wants to hear me bang on about theories and debunking the myths that still abound about grief, and 2. I wanted to explore the beautifully curated creative exploration of life and death that beckoned.
Sutton House is a National Trust property that is beautifully preserved, and the curators @anna_eol_doula and @poetic_endings have done an outstanding job of adding beautiful installations to it. One example was a coffin playroom which consisted of coffins full of multi coloured balls for tactile exploration. There was also an ‘all that’s left unsaid’ exhibition of cards with sentiments written on them such as ‘you said you loved me, you lied’ and ‘you should have knocked and asked to come in’. This was also an opportunity to examine a pink hearse, drink death themed cocktails and eat a herb supper.
But enough of the interesting exhibition -never one to miss an opportunity, I’d like to share a brief overview of the content of my workshop with you.
The first part of the presentation was exploring the differences between intuitive and instrumental grievers (Martin & Doka, 2010) with specific personality types. Whilst these are generalities, exploring the combination of variables gives rise to explaining why different people exhibit grief in different ways. I’ve written about this at length in my book Grief Demystified, due to be published by JKP in 2017.
Secondly we had a discussion around the myths of grief. ‘Are you over it yet’, ‘time heals all wounds’, ‘you can always have more [children] and the big one: the 5 stages of grief. For those who are unfamiliar or haven’t checked Wikipedia.com lately, the five stages of grief were identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as the grief emotions experienced by those who were dying in the 1960’s, not the bereaved. The model was later expanded by Elisabeth to encompass grief but she was very clear that the stages are not linear and not intended to be interpreted that way. There are several more modern models of grief that are preferable to demonstrate the reality of bereavement.
Lastly we explored the impact of social media and how our digital legacy affects grieving. The consensus was that the immediate family should have control, and power of veto over who should post, and what content should be allowed to be published publicly.
For further information on this workshop or if you would like to chat to me about running one or attending one of my training courses, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always delighted to share this with anyone interacting with the bereaved, to the bereaved, or anyone supporting the bereaved professionally.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend a visit to http://www.lifedeathwhatever.com when the next one is running. The exhibitions and events are life affirming and invigorating and are perfectly situated within an atmospheric and beautifully historic venue.