Hello and welcome. I'm Dr. Zoe Williams
and I'm going to be your host for this event.
This is the fourth virtual event in the Bupa inside Health Series.
And for this event, we're going to be focusing on mental health
and in this segment specifically, loss and loneliness.
These events are exclusively for Bupa customers
to give you access and give you some insights
and some advice directly from our expert team at Bupa
and today I'm joined by Glenys Jackson
who is clinical lead for mental health at Bupa
and she is going to be given us some of her expertise
to guiding us through loss and loneliness and also,
Simon Thomas is a TV presenter and advocate for loss and loneliness.
So Glenys, if we can start with you what help and support
is available to people. And if they're experiencing loss,
bereavement or also loneliness?
Well, obviously, it's very, very, very difficult time to people and
the most important thing in terms of support
is the fact that they can call in and have a conversation.
I think it's really important that people understand that being
able to talk is of paramount importance,
because you go for so long, following bereavement following loss
through that grief process, whereby you think there's nobody there for
there's no help there for you.
But it's about making that first step,
making that first step into making that call, being able to talk to
even if it's only just to say a few words and then most of
that conversation time is spent crying or being upset.
It's really about being able to engage in a conversation,
to have that chat to have that talk
to go through what's really happening for you.
And then once that doors been been opened,
I guess and that person is given somebody an opportunity to help
What are the strategies that are available?
What the coping strategies for people in this really difficult
Well, it's really important to think about that there's no right or wrong
Because we are all unique
in how we think and how we feel
and how we respond to situations.
So it's really important that we are responsive,
we think about okay,
I need to talk about what I need to talk about,
I need to look at what help is out there.
So we really have that conversation around scoping
what's right for that individual?
Is it that you know, they could use something like Cruse or
is it that they need to go to a face to face group?
Or is it that they need to do something online
where they're not exposing their conversation to a wider audience, a
It's really about pinpointing what's right for them and
only through those conversations, will you identify
what is the best thing for them.
And then again,
reflect it there's no right or wrong, something you think,
yes, that will work for you but in actual fact, it's too hard.
That person's experience is still too raw and that's when we look at
I mean people say times a great healer, it is but as long as
you're getting that support that you need.
And I think sometimes as a GP
we find it difficult to differentiate, you know, what is
and what would be classed as I guess, I hate the term normal,
but you know, normal symptoms of bereavement versus when as
something like a mental illness like depression or anxiety or PTSD.
How do you differentiate what is it a time difference?
There's many different aspects to whether something
when you experience grief or experience when you experience loss,
that the grief that you're feeling is that actually,
you know, going into a condition.
But what we've got to realise at the beginning is that as you will know,
and through many people that you've spoken to that,
you know, grief is normal and we're not to take that away
You know, our reactions that we experience when we have loss,
we've got to let them let it happen and let that time evolve.
Those periods of those overwhelming rollercoaster of emotions,
you know, let that happen.
Because it needs to, don't try and block it out.
And if that you get to the point where okay, I can see a little bit
I can see a little bit of time where I'm actually thinking I'm okay.
I've actually had 10 minutes where haven't felt exhausted
or haven't felt overwhelmed.
That's the indicator that you're actually going to start on that path
and not necessarily going down that clinical path.
Because of course, if you do go down that clinical path,
that's when you do need to engage with your GP,
you do need to have that conversation around,
I am not coping with these feelings and thoughts that I do have,
They are extending out of that normal reaction to loss
and the grief is really eating me up, and I need to do
something different about it, because it could slip into
that depressive mood disorder,
it could slip into where I can't cope with my anxiety,
it's up there, and I'm not I'm not coping at all, you know,
it can develop into that PTSD, post traumatic element
of thinking, and you can't control it.
So I always look at that, you know,
if you're managing to control those emotions,
and you're letting the main and the overwhelmingness is reducing,
that's when you starting to make some inroads into that grief
If you can't, that's when you need to engage with your GP
and have a conversation about
what do I actually need now?
Are there any specific signs or symptoms
that people can look out for that might be a clue that actually,
you know what this is?
Not okay and I really should, you know, reach out.
For some professional support,
I always use the old scenario about a rubber band,
that when you when you look at a rubber band and
you stretch the rubber band out and out and out,
and it's that rubber band is full of your symptoms
It's full of that overwhelming feeling of anxiety,
of mood thoughts, that are really concerning for you.
Those moments where the feelings are intense,
and you have you don't have that control, your sleep is so disturbed
that you're not sleeping at all, you have no appetite whatsoever,
you've no motivation whatsoever and it's when those are significantly
impacting on what you do.
Day in day out, I can remember somebody telling me about just
sitting there and not being able to move, because they were was so
they were was so wrapped up in their own grief that they had no work, no
And it's when the severity of it is really impacting your everyday life
that you do need them to engage in real professional help.
What about if it's going on for very long time?
Is there a is there a cut off obviously there isn't a firm cut off
because everybody's different?
But would you say if this if these symptoms and these feelings,
you're not starting to see any light at the end of the tunnel,
By what point would you expect that to be happening?
You would hope that somebody would find some relief
from the grief symptoms, anything between six and 18 months,
depending on their own, you know, physiological,
psychological makeup really.
That it really does depend on them as an individual,
like you say, we are all unique.
And it's really around knowing themselves.
So it's about being able to get in touch with you as an individual
and being brave, to say, this isn't right,
this isn't going the right way.
And having that conversation using those organisations that are out
either nationally or locally, talk to your GP
about how you're actually feeling so that it can be measured,
it can be assessed in terms of where you're at
and how you think and feel within that sort of volcano of loss.
You know, you've got to enable that volcano to erupt,
to be able to let all that emotion out
so that you can start repairing yourself.
But like you say, when it goes to the extent of
this isn't going away, and you're you're 8-12 months down the line,
then it's about
No, I do need to check this out.
And there is help and support available.
What I love, I love what you said there about
being brave enough to actually admit that this isn't going okay and I do
I love that because it is actually I think people
worry that the brave thing to do is bury your head in the sand
and get on with it and
let the world see you shining as if everything's fine and
that's not the brave thing to do is actually to, to ask for support and
We often say don't we when somebody asks us, are you okay?
After loss? And you just go yes, yes and we're not
we're not okay at all, we then turn away and cry
or turn away and just feel very, very sad.
There is in my opinion, there's no treatment for sadness.
There's kindness, yes, listening. But there's no real treatment for
Until it gets to that extreme where you do need that professional help
but it's about being honest with you giving yourself that permission
to say I don't feel right.
I'm not coping with this, and I need that support.
And then finally, how would you do you have any recommendations
for people as to approaching life
after the loss of a very close family member, maybe a spouse or you
know, and somebody, it's got the rest of their lives ahead of them.
Yeah. How do you approach that?
I think that is you've got to be very realistic.
You've got to look at what's happened to you.
What the impact has been? has, you know,
has there been impact on other people in your family
due to that loss?
And it's really looking at that whole picture of who you are,
and who your connectors are.
And it's about making that connectivity again, isn't it?
It's really looking at taking small steps and taking little bite sizes
And reflecting back on that to say, you know, yes,
have had just had five minutes OK time actually.
Where I've actually felt brighter.
You can feel your mood changing and it's being aware of that, isn't it?
So things like mindfulness, aware you have to be in the moment.
It takes lots of practice, of course, but it's actually been in
to actually say, I'm actually feeling okay for this five minute
And then you go slumped down again but you've got to try
and remember that you've had that five minute of kindness.
Brilliant. Thank you so much.
Simon, there are a number of times their I could almost sense.
Can see me nodding.
Agreeing, I couldn't see you but I could, I could almost hear you
And so you know, you've become kind of an expert
and a real advocate for supporting people through
grief, bereavement and loss and it all started with your
own personal experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about about that?
Yes, it was back in 2017 and I'd been married since 2005.
My first wife was called Gemma, and an eight year old boy, Ethan
still got my boy, he's not eight anymore.
He was eight at the time and it was the the autumn of 2017 actually
When you were talking Glenys about
with the question that was asked about that
kind of confusing period as to what is grief?
What's mental health issues?
I was going through some really pronounced mental health problems
before Gemma fell ill.
So I was working for SkySports at the time, I had to come off work
with very pronounced anxiety and panic attacks,
and then I couldn't work anymore.
And obviously what happened next, my doctors say
we can no longer tell what is grief and what
was happening before the ballparks change.
But in amongst all that Gemma just fell ill very suddenly
a lot of recurring headaches and I know when we've met this
on this morning together,
I've spoken about this and she became very fatigued
and went downhill very quickly over the space of a week
and eventually we took it to a&e and reading and it was discovered in
the early hours of a Monday morning that she had a blood cancer
of some sort and we didn't know what it was but
as you'll know when anyone mentions the word cancer
and it's it's your own personal situation.
It's a it's a moment that will haunt you forever
and we were transfer very quickly the next day to Oxford,
where she was diagnosed with a rare but aggressive former leukaemia
called acute myeloid leukaemia, which affects around about 3000
in the UK every year.
And the treatment began immediately we knew the outlook was was was
it was 5050 Whether she pulled through
and by the Friday, he had a really awful complication in her brain
because of the damage that the explosion of white blood cells
had done to her blood vessels in her brain and
she died by quarter to six on the Friday.
So within the space of a week, we've gone from finding out
she's got cancer to her being gone
and then I'm plunged into this just horrendous period
of obviously my own grief and pain but alongside that,
I've got an eight year old boy who's now lost his mum out of nowhere.
So I've gone in the space of a week from from having a wife and
Ethan having a mum to Gemma's gone and suddenly plunged into
this awful confusing world of grief in very little time.
and that's what, you know, my counselling others would call
traumatic grief where there's been zero time to prepare
and suddenly you're in it, and it's the best word I'd come up with.
It was a nightmare.
Yeah. Gosh, I can't even imagine how
just traumatic that must have been. Ethan being, did you say, is eight
How? How did you approach or how did you manage coping
with a child and their loss?
Gosh, this is a good question because there was there was
no time to prepare.
In terms of me or Ethan, you know, we couldn't meet
with charities to prepare for his mum dying.
It just happens in the space of sort of four days
and there was no time to pick a book up.
How do you help a kid through this?
Obviously, we had a lot of support from family and friends
but again, they don't they don't know what to do.
They don't know what the best thing to say to him is or how to comfort
There were lots of lessons I learned very, very quickly.
One of the biggest lessons I learned very early on
is that a child's grief will be quite different to an adult's grief.
The best way it was described to me by the charity that began working
is that a child's grief is a little bit like the way in which a child
in and out of a puddle.
So they can jump into a puddle.
Hopefully they're willing to boots on and if they've had enough
they can jump back out and that's a little bit how their grief works
and I find it very confusing at first.
Because even in the early days, you know, his cousins were around
lots of family around and one minute you'd hear kind of laughter
and chatter coming from the lounge or he's playing with his cousin on
The next minute, he's in tears.
And he's asking questions about what's going to happen future wise,
what's gonna happen with your work, daddy, you you go away weekends
I spend time and money what happens now.
And then he jumped back out again.
So it's when the pain gets too much a child is able to jump back out
for an adult that for me, there was no escape,
no escape from the from the pain of grief,
but also the myriad of questions that are coming in as
How is life going to work? How am I going to look after him?
If I carry on working? How do we pay the mortgage?
And all the questions if they actually I shouldn't be asking these
because it seems insensitive.
She's only been gone 48 hours, but they just come at you.
So I learned that very quickly that his grief will be different to mine.
There was times over that first Christmas, it had moments
and I wrote about this in the book I wrote about it where I felt jealous
I wanted to be him for an hour.
So I could jump out of that puddle.
Just for that slight bit of relief
Just be free for if it was like for
worries crashing in.
The other thing I learned was that
the importance of going there with them when the questions come.
Now I found with Ethan it will be different than the kids
but what they will try to do very early on is
begin to try and work out what life is going to look like going forward.
They're trying to make sense of this bizarre new world,
they find themselves and they've learned very young
that the world can be a cruel place.
And that's what happened to Ethan in
He learned that really bad things can happen and it's happened to him.
So he had a myriad of questions very early on about life going forward.
So within three days, he's asking me,
What are we going to do mummy's clothes?
I'm not ready even to begin that conversation yet.
So my temptation was to shut him down again.
Ethan, we're not going there. No, no, no, no.
Why are you bringing that up?
But I didn't began to talk to him about it.
A week in he just said to me one night as I'm putting him to bed, he said
Daddy, you could die tonight.
He said, But mummy died in three days.
So actually a totally. Okay, question.
That's, that's the reality of his world.
I just said, Well, we've now found out as time has gone on
that mummy was seriously ill, we just didn't know it
and it came too late for her, which is why she went so quickly.
I feel very tired. Because you were talking to us about the lack of
I could get to sleep just couldn't stay asleep.
You know, a bad night was I was up at 2:30, I lie-in I think till it
was 4:30 for about nine months.
But on that occasion, I went there again with a question and just said,
Look, I feel okay. Mummy wasn't. So I think I'll be okay.
Because the other lesson you have to learn very early on with the kid
is you want to promise them the world.
You want to promise them that nothing bad will ever happen again
and one of the first things the counsellor said to me is,
as a parent, you want to say I will always be here for you.
It's a lie.
Because he won't. He's just learned that for his mum.
So you want to say all these comforting things, but you can't
You still have to keep it honest.
Yeah, you got to keep it honest and so I just learned to go there
with the questions when they came, answer them,
even if you feel really uncomfortable, because if you don't,
then eventually he will just feel
Daddy never wants to talk about this.
So eventually the door shuts.
Well, then where does he go with those questions?
So I just felt right from the off whatever the question was,
he asked me within 10 days, would I get married again,
again, come from, but it's a child trying to make it
they want to feel a sense of security.
No family life will never be the same again.
But can they have some semblance of the security of family structure
Again, at some point, which is why is asking that question.
I suppose it's you answering those questions he had?
In the way that you did. Gave him that comfort?
Instead of blocking it out and say, No, I'm not. I'm not going to go
Which is our natural response.
It sounds like it was a really fine balance between
his questions had to be answered
and then he could put them away and he had that security
but also not overstepping the mark and not over promising
and actually being, being honest.
And it's really difficult. It's a hard balance to strike
and because we had no time to prepare
didn't have kind of things to think back on
sessions we've had with with counsellors
because there are lots of organisations that are amazing
and preparing children and families for this moment,
I think is more needs to be done, but there is much more out there.
So if Gemma be given a diagnosis of say, a year to live,
you know, there are organisations that will help you as a family
for that and think through the kind of questions that may come from a
There's no time for that.
So you're just just trying to answer them
When they came with a big gulp.
And interesting that Ethan asked you if you would get married again,
you did get married again. So congratulations.
Well, just a little side note on that. Congratulations.
So when you were in this really difficult, awful nightmare as you
and you've said you already had some
mental health problems going on
and then you add grief on top of that, and it all become
how did you manage how did you cope?
I mean, you're here today. What were your coping strategies?
Who helped you who you, how did you get through it?
Well, I think one of the biggest things was in the early days after,
Gemma died, we just had an incredible amount of support around us
from family and friends.
It was like this army sort of arrived at the house,
and just looked after so many different things. and I remember a
that really struck me where I realised that this actually wasn't
necessarily the norm.
That actually an awful lot of people go through something like this
and it's a very different story for them.
There's lots of really unpleasant but necessary things you have to do
when someone dies, which is, in order to have the funeral,
you've got to have a death certificate.
So we were back in Oxford, where she died on the Tuesday she died on
we were back back on the Tuesday to pick up the death certificate.
And it's, you know, it's one of the most sobering moments in life,
you know, when you're seeing a registrar, noting down all the
and then writing the word widower into the description of me,
you know, moments you'd never expect to have
when you wife just forty
So horrendous moment, but I went with three friends.
So I had these three friends there with me in the room and the
while she was signing just looked at me said
Do you mind me asking who these guys are with you assuming they're your
Yer they're not just random, attracting off the ward,
Bus Driver, works in the coffee shop
and I said, these were mates.
These are kind of team Thomas, as we call them.
She said that she that? That's amazing. So you know, you are very
I say now I am. Yeah, I know that. I said.
Well, what's the story for a lot of people who come to this office, she
Well, we find a lot of people who come will tend to come on their own.
Now some come on their own out of choice
but others come on their own because they don't have
someone alongside to support.
I just thought my goodness me, I can't even begin to imagine
coming to a place like this for a moment like this
and just being on your own.
So that that support around me was was really, really important
and a massive help because they looked after so many things
that you can't even begin to think about
like just putting tea on the table for even like thinking for a shop
like a friend just sat down and went through all the
administrative things like shutting down Gemma's bank accounts,
the phone and all just all the grim things you have to do.
So that was massively important.
I think picking up on something that Glenys mentioned earlier.
You know, people will manage this in different ways,
they will respond in different ways.
I don't know, I just had a feeling that the most important thing was
is I just let it out,
you know, in whatever shape or form that takes.
So I was a very angry man for quite a while,
but I would tend to take my anger away from Ethan.
So you would have if you'd been living close to me
where I was in Reading at the time where the house was by the River
I would be down the end of the garden near the Thames,
just shouting into the into the morning mists,
just letting this anger flood out and there were joggers
the other side of of the Thames looking
Who is that it is dressing gown and wellington boots
but I felt it was really important to do that.
Because as time's going on to realise that if you don't,
it's like sort of shaking a bottle of pop,
the pressure will build and build and build over time
and I remember speaking to a close friend of ours,
and she never told me the story, but she'd lost her mum and she was quite
not as young as Ethan and had never really ever properly grieved for her mum.
And then many years later, the grief suddenly hit and I said,
Well, when it hit all those years later, what was it like?
She said an utter mess? So I just felt this need to kind of let it
I think when Glenys saying you know, there's no wrong way to do it.
I kind of agree to an extent but there are some definitely things I'd
say don't do.
You know, I developed way too heavy reliance on alcohol
when things got too painful.
As that kind of initial support began to disperse as people
had to get back to life again and you were left on your own more and
That was often something I went to just to numb the pain for a bit.
but the problem when you do that is the other pain numbs for an hour or
But the danger then is you begin to bomb down this slope
that takes you to a really really dark place.
So if anybody ever asked me about coping strategies
to say that that is one to avoid, that's definitely the wrong way to
but I understand why people do do it.
And it was just it was just letting the expressing myself
I got counselling very early on when every single week
and I found that massively helpful.
He was just so good at pinpointing why be feeling the way I was on a
like the day I decided to leave SkySports to look after Ethan.
I was lucky enough to have a big life insurance payout.
So I had the financial security to do that.
I know that others don't have that and I can't begin to imagine what
But on that day I stepped away from sky we planned it
I decided a month before but I'm that not morning
when the press release is coming out. I felt awful. Just on edge.
It was mid April 2018. A few months later on edge tearful at the school
Actually one point kicked the school gate in anger.
Some of the parents again heck's going on and they know what's going
but why is he in this state this morning?
Fortunately I was going my counsellor literally after dropped
and he's got on those ring doorbells.
So as I press that he can see my face.
So he's already working out I'm in a bad place.
Just for my image on the ring doorbell I sit down.
He says you're not in a good place are you? I went no.
He said why do you think that is? And I said well, I don't know.
He said what's going on today and I told him about sky
and straightaway said the reason why you're feeling like you are
is because this is another loss on top of the greater loss,
which was Gemma.
And that's something that sometimes
I found hard that wasn't acknowledged by
friends and family is that when something like this happens,
there's a lot of secondary losses,
that in normal life, the loss of your job, even though yes,
I decided to turn them, you know, step away from it is massive,
Especially when it's a career that you've worked so hard for.
Took me 11 years to get to the Premier League at Sky,
then it's gone in a season and a half.
But people look at the greater loss and when they look at that
the other thing seemed a little bit immaterial
but you are dealing with all those
he just said, that's why you're feeling the way you are, we unpacked it.
So I found that massively helpful.
As you're talking, Simon, the word that keeps just
popping up in my brain is brave.
I think, as you were saying, Glenys, it is so brave to admit
that this is not okay, that this is difficult that you need help.
It sounds like that's one of the things that helped you,
you know, turning up with three of your mates
great that those mates are so supportive, but also brave,
that you were open enough to allow them in to help you.
And that standing at the river and shouting,
it just makes me think about the many cultures,
especially in the developing world, you know,
in Africa, or South Asia, where, you know,
we see those images of people wailing, and really, you know,
physically letting the emotions be expressed.
It's very British of us to keep that inside, isn't it and
cry our tears behind closed doors.
So it's really interesting, and just Yeah, I just think it's so brave
and obviously what you've gone on to do since then,
which is to support and help other people
from what you've learned through your own experiences,
incredibly brave as well, because you have to
keep bringing up your own story, which is not easy,
And you don't feel like you're being brave and I remember
the time the phrase that really wound me up it was
it was always online, like when I put up the first post on Facebook,
just let friends know that that that she died.
So many comments, and this was a recurring comment.
Whether it was on Facebook or Instagram or in person
over the next few months was be strong.
Be strong for Ethan be strong for your family,
whatever it is.
It used to really confused me.
So how on earth can you be strong in a situation such as this?
Yeah, it's not like I'm choosing to be weak.
No, I'm gonna get up and flex muscles.
Then come on today, I'm getting through this.
Some days, like you couldn't get to the school and
then just go back to bed and be in there
probably till he finished school and go and get him again.
But actually, I as I began to learn is actually
is being vulnerable enough to go today I'm feeling awful
being vulnerable enough to go I'm okay to cry
being vulnerable enough to go today. I'm just gonna let it all out.
Yeah, I'm going to shout at a river passing me by
and the joggers are the other side.
Obviously, I wasn't shouting to them
but I'm I'm vulnerable enough to go.
This is where I'm at today. This is how I'm feeling and that
That's being strong.
That's the strength and what I think particularly when it comes to men,
and particularly mental health is that and I think
we're beginning to change the narrative on this.
This the vulnerability is still seen as a bit of a dirty word.
It's seen as weakness and there's a number of people out there
trying to flip that on its head and say, no, actually
just unclench that fist for change as a guy and say, today,
I'm just not okay, today, I'm struggling with the sheer weight of
and I'm a mess and there's bravery and strength for me.
I have to say that whereas the Britishness you talked about, Zoe,
is that I am fine.
Stiff upper lip and, you know, I've seen the damage it's done
to people where they've adopted that,
you know, my boss at sky at the time came to see me a few months
after she died. and and I'd always wondered about him
why he was quite a schizophrenic character,
really charming, one meeting you'd have with him.
Absolute nightmare, the next is like weird.
And then he sat down when we came for lunch, to see how I was
and then began to tell his story.
He lost his mum, when he was five, his brother was seven.
And once the funeral came and went,
his dad never allowed there to be any conversation
around his mum in the house ever again.
This guy had it bottled up.
And as I began to hear this thing, this does explain a little bit.
Why he's become the person he has,
because so many emotions have been buried.
And then so many things trigger.
Goes back to that volcano. Again, doesn't it
I love that analogy?
You know you put the lid on that volcano.
At some point, it will erupt.
It's gonna erupt, yeah.
And if you leave it and leave it and leave it, what a mess that will be.
You need let it sort of just spill out gradually over time.
Final question, Simon.
You know, you have now kind of devoted part of yourself
to helping other people through grief and loss
and of course, everybody's different and
the solutions for different people will be different.
but are there any sort of generic words of advice
or coping strategies
that in a short space of time you could recommend to people?
Yeah, the one is when it comes to if you're lucky enough to be offered
Don't be too proud to take care.
You know, sometimes people won't go now I don't I don't need this,
I don't need that, you know, just just take all the support you can
you know that I've always say that be be brave enough to talk,
you know, whether that is getting a counsellor or finding a friend
that you can really confide in.
I'd always say push into that lean on as many people as you can,
there will be moments when you won't want to be around anybody,
you'll just want to be on your own.
You won't want to answer that voicemail message or that text
And that's okay. And the people around you need to understand that
that's not you pushing them away.
It's just in that moment, you're not ready to talk.
But talking is really important.
And actually, it's okay to feel all of these things.
You know, it's okay to be angry.
One minute I was I PTSD for months after it happened,
you know, just inexplicable highs and lows,
one minute I was doing okay, the next minute, I'm in a supermarket
in floods of tears, you know, you just bounce around all the time.
To let those emotions out is really important.
There's a lot of help out there.
You know, we've talked about some of the charity, whether it's Cruse,
There's lots of really good kids bereavement charities
Ethan's done loads of work with Grief Encounter,
who just brilliant it was really important to tap into that .
There's Widowed and Young, which is an amazing organisation
that reaches out to young men and women who've been bereaved,
below the age of 50 because, you know, that's,
you know, we go through, we'll all go through loss at some point,
but reaches out to that specific group, don't be too proud to reach
And I'll always say to people is,
and I sometimes when I heard this,
I felt really like angry with someone would say this,
it's a one day it will, it will feel different, it will get better,
the sun will shine again, when you're in the midst of grief
when that volcanoes going off, and everything feels very dark
and doesn't feel like the clouds ever clear for very long,
you cannot even begin to believe that will happen.
But it does. And it's bit by bit, sometimes you'll have fleeting
suddenly, if I feel right in this moment, and then the clouds back in,
but over time, the clouds clearer, more and more.
And I just say to people, it is possible to have a
happy and fulfilled life again, that doesn't mean you have to,
you know, get remarried or whatever that might be.
That's the path that I've ended up on.
It's brought me huge, you know, fulfilment and love again in my
but there's lots of different paths that lead to a fulfilled life again,
you can have that, you know,
it's it's not suddenly shut off to the bereaved.
And I think the last thing I'd probably say to people is,
is something I learned over time is that
relationships are going to change.
I think, particularly when bereavement comes at the wrong time
When we lose a parent, I lost my dad
But people have a reference point because his late 70s
he hadn't been well for a while and we expect it at that time in life.
So the usual cliches can be readily applied,
you know, great innings, what a wonderful man who has gotten things,
and someone goes in their early 40s.
Half time in life, our reference points is a much harder
and for people at that stage of life, there's been sudden loss
and the loss years,
relationships do change and I was told this very early on
didn't want to hear it, a woman who'd been through the loss of her
when she was a similar age to me, said,
your friendships will change.
Some will deepen, some will drift away,
and you'll find new people come into my life,
new people definitely came into my life.
My best man at my wedding was a guy I didn't know before Gemma died,
he's now one of my best mates.
Relationships did change.
Some of our best friendships are no longer the same.
Some people were very much part of that initial support
I've never heard from again, probably three or more years.
And I think it's this and I'll just say to people going through,
it's a hard thing to understand.
But my counsellor said a really, really good thing when
I say I don't understand why people aren't around me anymore.
He said, It's like this, when you try and look at the sun,
you can look at it for a while, not for very long
and then you have to turn away because it's too painful.
And people can look upon your pain and your loss for a while.
But in the end, they have to begin to look away
and there'll be only a handful of people who can continue
to look at that pain and walk with you long term.
So I've just say to people, it's a hard thing to digest
the idea that in your darkest hour, your lowest point
that you're going to lose some friendships
that people aren't going to walk with you.
I'm afraid it's just it's just the way it happens. I experienced it
and so many others do and when I put the comment on
Widowed and Young about this, I'd say 90% of people got back
to me said yeah, I've gone through exactly the same thing.
So so much will change, but life can still be good again.
Sadly, that's all we have time for. Thank you, Glen. Thank you, Simon
for it's just been such an incredible chat and
I hope you've all learned something really useful from that
and if you'd like more advice and support,
please do go on to the Mental Health Hub.