The National Day of Reflection: speaking to Marie Curie about the need to express grief and reflect upon bereavement

We spoke to Jane Murray from Marie Curie about why the National Day of Reflection is such an important moment – and got advice on how to deal with bereavement as well as how to support those experiencing grief.

With The National Day of Reflection coming up on March 23rd, for our Covid Matters podcast we were delighted to be joined by Jane Murray from Marie Curie, who is Bereavement Services Manager and part of their Family Support Team.

Marie Curie have been leading on coordinating the National Day of Reflection, which involves hundreds of organisations – including covid:aid – with events taking place online and across the UK.

We spoke to Jane about why the day is important, as well as about how people have experienced grief and loss differently since the Covid-19 pandemic began – the nature of lockdown often leading to paused grief and a delay in process emotions. 

We also discussed the complexity of grief, with Jane providing advice for those who have experienced bereavement, as well as tips for people who want to help their loved ones who are struggling.

The National Day of Reflection takes place On March 23. It provides a time to connect and support the millions of people who are grieving, and remember the family, friends, neighbours and colleagues who have died over the last two years. 

There are loads of ways to take part in the National Day of Reflection, from joining the minute's silence at 12 noon, to visiting a Wall of Reflection in your community, and reaching out to someone you know who’s grieving. covid:aid is also hosting events online through our Support Community (including a special free drop-in event on the day) – you find our covid:aid National Day of Reflection hub here: covidaidcharity.org/covid-national-day-of-reflection 

You can also find out more by searching “Day of Reflection” and visiting the Marie Curie website, which provides details of how to get involved and events taking place online and throughout the UK. And If you, or someone you care about is grieving, the Marie Curie Support Line can help. Call them for free on 0800 090 2309 to speak to one of the trained Support Line Officers or get ongoing support from a bereavement volunteer.

Takeaway quotes from the episode

  1. On the National Day of Reflection: “This is a time to come together as a nation, and reflect and remember [those we’ve lost]. It's almost like the day provides people with permission to grieve – as a society and as a nation we perhaps don't openly grieve, depending on the culture, so this is a chance for everybody to remember, stop, or even cry.”

  2. On the ‘right’ way to grieve: “The truth is, there's no right or wrong way to grieve. The right way to grieve is the way that you grieve. What's most important is that you get it out, and have an opportunity to cry and share your feelings.”

  3. On what is ‘normal’: “Grief is normal. We need to remember that, sadly, people of all ages die. We as humans grieve, and that is a very normal and natural expectation to have.”

  4. Advice for those bereaved: “It is that old adage: one day at a time. On the hardest day that has to be broken down further, to an hour at a time. Do reach out and talk to people, whether that is in person, virtually, or through the Marie Curie telephone support line – there will always be someone there to talk to you about your grief. It’'s okay to cry with them. I would encourage anybody to tap into that.”

  5. Advice for those wanting to support others experiencing bereavement: “If you are a friend or colleague of someone who has been bereaved, don't avoid those conversations. Some people won't say reach out and say anything for fear of upsetting them even more, or hurting them even more by talking about it. Nothing you can say is going make them hurt any more than they’re hurting right now. What is going to hurt them? It’s you avoiding them and not even mentioning it. You may feel that, oh gosh, I'm not that kind of person. I'm not good with words, I wouldn't know what to say. That's okay – maybe you could show that you care in a different way? You could be that colleague at work. When you make yourself a cup of coffee, you just put the coffee on that person's desk... Maybe you're the next door neighbour that just turns up and says ‘I'm on the way to Tesco, where's your list?’ You can reach out to people in practical ways, as well as emotional ways, and it will be very well received.”

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