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The grief news this week: Grief is not a mental illness! Photo: @marclepenn

In last Friday’s “grief news” article, I mentioned the good work Prince Harry is doing by openly talking about his feelings and the way he deals with the death of his mother. It was a very brave thing to do, especially for someone of his standing who is brought up to show no emotion.

His story has inspired many others to open up about their own experiences and that in itself is a great thing. It is an important milestone not just for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one but for those who deal with grief on professional basis too. Counsellors, therapists and people like me, who use their loss and experience to inspire others to keep on going.

Unfortunately grief is something that all of us will encounter at some point in our lives. The more we talk about grief and its effect on us, the better chances we have to understand it, and realise that it is as normal as birth.

If nothing else, the Prince’s honesty and openness about this very difficult time of his life, normalises grief and shows that nobody is exempt from it. Sooner or later, we will all meet grief. It is in the interest of us all to know as much about it as we can, so that when it barges into our lives instead of the loved one we expected to see, we can better deal with it.

If you are reading this and you are affected by grief, please help spread the word by sharing this article on your favourite social media platform.

The grief news this week: grief is not a mental illness

I google grief on daily basis and earlier this week I came across an article in The Huffington Post (link here) where the author (Naomi Barrow) made the point that “grief is not a mental illness”. That struck a chord with me:

Soon after the death of my partner, my neighbours kept telling me that I was depressed and needed to go on “happy pills”. That was difficult to swallow (no pun intended) and a very bold statement too, considering that neither of them was a medical professional or in any way qualified to diagnose me, let alone – prescribe a treatment!

This “encounter” with my neighbours is in my book (link here) and I won’t bore you with the details here. What I’d like to say and what I wanted to scream in their faces at the time was:

Grief can contribute to depression but it, itself is not a mental illness! Grief could trigger mental-ill health but that doesn’t make it a mental illness!

Of course, in situations like these, people want to help. I still feel very lucky that my neighbours were kind to me and made sure I was OK but… I wish they considered the impact their remark would have on me before they spoke.

The point in telling you this is that, in their aim to help you, people will sometimes say or do things that might be a bit difficult to swallow even if they mean no harm. Remember that, but also remember that it is OK to feel the way you feel whilst you grieve the death of a loved one.

Only you know how to grieve and don’t let anyone else tell you how to feel and how to grieve.

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