Dealing with grief after bereavement

After my husband died, I hit a point when I felt as though I was buried in ‘shoulds’. Some of them came from other people – there were people who had some quite clear ideas about what I should do and how I should behave as a widow. Most of them were internal.

There were a lot of ‘I should haves’ about Peter – I should have nagged him to press for more tests earlier, I should have made sure we spent more time together, I should have not taken a job that meant moving away.

There were ‘I shoulds’ about the present – I should keep a stiff upper lip, I should deal with all the bereavement admin – what Revd Richard Coles brilliantly calls ‘sadmin’ (in his book, The Madness of Grief’) immediately. There were even more ‘I shoulds’ about the future…

I came to realise that, while other people were, on the whole, brilliantly kind, I was not being particularly kind to myself. So I banned the word ‘should’ (now known as ‘the S word’) from my head.

  • No more beating myself up because I hadn’t been the perfect wife and nurse.
  • No more suppressing my instincts on what was right for me because other people might think it was weird.
  • And no more letting myself be controlled by what other people thought, or more often, what I thought they were thinking, or what I thought ‘society’ expected.


The Importance of Self-Kindness

Most of us value the kindness we find in others, and pride ourselves on being kind to other people ourselves. But self-kindness is also crucial – behaving to ourselves as we might to a cherished friend who is going through a bad time.

It’s one of the key elements of the coaching technique I use most often, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

If you’d like to find out how you might apply this to yourself, get in touch and we’ll have a conversation.