Grief collides in my life in two ways. 

First, as a daughter learning to navigate life after the death of her Father. And second as an author and Clinical Psychologist supporting people with trauma and grief. When I first heard about the National Day of Reflection scheduled for the 23rd of March 2021, I was so pleased. I feel that the next pandemic will be one of grief. Grief for those who have died in this last year, but also grief for what everyone has missed out on and sacrificed as a result of the situation.  Often in mental health there is a tendency to advise people to distract themselves from what ails them……try a bit of colouring or go out for a stroll!  The problem being of course that once the picture is finished and you’re back from the ramble that the things you were seeking distraction from are still right there where you left them!

An opportunity to turn towards our distress and that of others

In my work and also personally, I spend time with people encouraging them to turn towards what is distressing and to begin to be more comfortable with it. For me, that’s what the National Day of Reflection symbolises.  It’s an opportunity to turn towards our distress and that of others. It’s an opportunity to empower us to support each other and to start conversations. It’s an opportunity to normalise that grief and other difficult feelings don’t have and certainly don’t follow, a neat timeline. I honestly think that this time in our lives has been and will continue to be, so significant that in future I hope we continue to have National Days to Reflect.

I have longed to have some outward marker of my grief. A little sign that says: ‘I am not quite me, be gentle’.

In our modern times there definitely seems to be less confidence in knowing how and when to talk to someone who is experiencing grief. It might be that we have lost something we previously did better, or certainly differently in the past. As Iris says in ‘The Grief Collective: Stories of Life, Loss & Learning to Heal,’

“There are times when I have longed to have some outward marker of my grief. A little sign that says: ‘I am not quite me, be gentle’.

That’s why I also love the idea of the Heartsease Badge by AtaLoss. It’s a steppingstone towards that outwards marker. It’s the permission for others to see you’d love to talk about someone and then to reach out to you and do it. I hope that we see a wave of Heartsease badges and that it continues to be something we look for and respond to.

Iris also goes on to say:

‘In Victorian times, it was the convention for widows to wear full mourning clothes for 2 years. The colour of the cloth chosen for the clothes lightened as mourning went on, moving from black to grey, violet, mauve and finally, white. Perhaps a part of me envies the protection given to the Victorian widows; the unspoken understanding conveyed by their clothing.’

I just adore that and Iris’ words are so incredibly powerful and have stayed with me since I first read them. I hope you also find them useful.

So, let’s be gentle.  Let’s remember. Let’s turn towards our own distress and that of others on this very important National Day of Reflection.

Dr Marianne Trentis an Ambassador

Our Heartsease Badges are available to purchase in our shop HERE