A recent study in the United Kingdom and Ireland revealed that people in Ireland suffered less from prolonged grief disorder.
One of the areas of difference between the two countries was that in Ireland a wake is held around the time of the funeral. Whereas this is less common in the UK.
What is Prolonged Grief Disorder?
Prolonged Grief Disorder is a disorder where the acute phase of grief with its deep yearning for the one who has died persists beyond 6 months. 6 months being a time when research has shown people are beginning to move out of acute grief into a more manageable grief response.
What Is An Irish Wake?
A wake involves the family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues of the person coming together to share stories and memories about the person, support their family and pay their respects to the person.
Another aspect of bereavement in Ireland is the acceptance of a period of intense mourning and the honouring of the dead.
The wake is usually held some time between the person’s death and their funeral. The coffin is usually there and sometimes it is open so that people can see the person they are farewelling.
The wake usually lasts two to three days and people come and go during that time. The grief becomes a community experience and stories and memories of the person are shared by those present. People also take the time to offer comfort to the family. The grieving is very much a community event and people draw comfort from the collective grief.
Other Ways of Managing Grief.
In contrast the UK way of conducting funerals involves prayers around the grave and is often open only to family members and close friends.
This results in the death being more hidden and offers fewer opportunities for people to express their feelings and become aware of others who feel that way. It also offers fewer opportunities for support from others.
The Importance of Community When Grieving
Researchers considered the community nature of grieving, with its acknowledgement of the loss and willingness to share the experience of grief assisted people to grieve and not get stuck in the acute part of grief.
You may not have access to the support afforded by a wake. But there are other things you can do to help yourself.
Being willing to share with others is helpful. But what do you do if those around you aren’t willing to listen?
The Support a Grief Counsellor Can Give
You may be grieving the loss of one of your parents and the only person you can share with is your other parent who is also grieving. You may also be concerned about this surviving parent. If they are elderly and have been with their partner for a very long time, it may be a time when you are concerned about them. It makes it hard to share your pain when you are worried about them.
This is a situation where seeing a grief counsellor can be helpful. Being able to share your feelings with someone who is able to listen and understand what you are going through is helpful.
In the absence of a culture that supports grief the way the Irish wake does there is a need to turn to other areas of support. Often what you need after grief is a safe place to express your deep sorrow, as well a feel supported and guided.
Sometimes what you need is somewhere to talk about the way the person you loved died. Sometimes you need to talk about the what if’s and the if only’s. If you are going to be able to let those go then it is helpful to talk them out of your system.
You need somewhere where it is safe to be hurt and angry, to feel you failed your loved one. somewhere to cry and admit your weaknesses in dealing with this horrible loss. You need somewhere where there is space for you to attend to your grief, instead of having to put your needs aside to support others.
You need somewhere where you can express what you need to and know you are not going mad. You are not wrong. You are suffering a totally normal grief. You are not a burden. You are someone who is in need.
Can I Help?
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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