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30th August is National Grief Awareness Day in the US, and then a little later in the year it's National Grief Awareness Week from 2nd to 8th December in the UK.

You might have read the heading and be questioning whether it’s relevant to you, because you haven’t lost anyone or struggled with grief. When in fact there are things we can all do to help support not only ourselves, but also others who may have lost someone.

Personally, National Grief Awareness Day is something that really resonates with me and is something I want to talk about because my Dad passed away recently. Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in August 2020, and almost three years after diagnosis he was admitted to our local Hospice and passed away peacefully in his sleep. As I'd known for such a long time that Dad wasn't going to get any better, I didn't expect it to come as such a shock and to be so upsetting. I thought I would be prepared for his passing, but I really wasn't. And that's because grief doesn't play by the rules. There's no logic, no pattern, and no timescale. When it comes to grieving and loss, we're all on our own journey.

It also made me realize that no one really teaches us how to deal with grief and, let's face it, not many of us even talk about the prospect of death. I have a very close relationship with my Mum and Sister, and we all dealt with Dad’s passing very differently. We therefore made sure to support one another as we experienced the roller-coaster of emotions at different times and in different ways. For me there was sometimes uncontrollable sobbing and hyperventilating, there were sometimes gentle, quiet, raindrop sized tears, and at other times I didn’t feel anything at all, it was like I was completely numb. A friend of mine reminded me it's very normal and healthy to move between all these emotions, and it's when we stay in one for too long that it can become unhealthy.

Not long after Dad passed away I made the effort to do things that bring me joy, such as running and reading, and I also met up with some friends. Interestingly, I found myself questioning whether it was "right" for me to do things I enjoy when I was grieving. I discussed this with my Counsellor, because I needed reassurance that it was OK for me to still do the things I enjoy. Her response was, if I felt I wanted to and was able to, then by not doing those things I wouldn’t be honouring my Dad, which I think is true. I also found that focusing on tasks and writing to do lists was a welcome distraction, because my goodness there is so much to do when someone passes away.

My family and I worked well as a task-focused team, going to all the appointments together, which included collecting Dad’s possessions from the Hospice, registering his death, meeting our Funeral Director, and meeting with our Celebrant. Our Funeral Director was exceptional and supported us every step of the way. He also reminded us that if you plan a big event like a wedding, you usually spend at least 6 months planning and preparing, but with a funeral you literally have a matter of weeks to choose the type of service, the casket, the flowers, to write the eulogy, to select photos for a visual tribute, etc. The list really did go on.

Then, after Dad’s funeral, I felt almost like I was in limbo. Apart from collecting his ashes, there wasn’t anything we had to do. And that’s when I experienced some huge waves of emotion and grief, as if it had all caught up with me. And as uncomfortable as it was, I allowed myself to feel the emotions and let the tears flow. The next step after that was to go back to work. I found this especially nerve-racking. So, in many ways going back to work felt like I was a new starter all over again. Going back to work also meant I had to admit to myself that my life didn’t include my Dad anymore, which I found very upsetting. I'm incredibly grateful for all the support and understanding I've received from my manager, Dana, my HR colleagues, and the wider Kubrick team. I was able to return to work gradually, which made a huge difference as it allowed me time to adjust and reflect.

I hope by sharing my experience it has perhaps bought comfort to someone, or perhaps provided some insight into loss and grief.

Top Tips and

I think it would also be helpful to share a few suggestions of things we can all do on National Grief Awareness Day, to help support not only ourselves, but also others:

Reach Out

Check in with family, friends or colleagues who have shared their experience of loss or grief with you.

It’s really important to remember that everyone processes the feelings associated with loss and grief differently and there is no set timescale, as we are all on our own journey. As such, they may or may not respond if you reach out to them, but I think they’ll appreciate knowing you are thinking of them.

Practical help was also something I personally appreciated, such as the weeks’ worth of frozen meals that were ordered and delivered to my home by a colleague, as this meant I didn’t have to think about what I was going to eat.

Consider What You Say

Some people may find it difficult to know what to say to someone who is dealing with grief and loss. So here are a few ideas of things to avoid saying, and things to say instead:

Instead of "they had a good innings", you could say "I'm so sorry for your loss".

Instead of "things happen for a reason", you could say "one of my favorite memories of [Name] was [share a happy memory of the person who passed away]".

Instead of "you're handling this better than I expected", you could say "however you are feeling is OK".

Practice Self-Care

As someone who lives with anxiety and panic attacks, I’m already a big fan or self-care and self-compassion. Therefore, while I’ve been grieving I’ve made sure to allow myself to feel all the emotions I’ve been experiencing, and I have been kind to myself by ensuring I haven’t put any pressure on myself to do anything I wasn't ready for.

If you've been affected by anything you've read or feel you need support, you can reach out to any of the organizations below:

In the US

Samaritans of New York City

Samaritans of NYC are available are available 24/7 to talk about anything that you are worried about. You can call them on 116212-673-3000 or email them at (normal working hours).

American Psychological Association

You can access National Grief Awareness Day resources.

In the UK


Samaritans are available 24/7 to talk about anything that you are worried about. You can call them on 116 123 or email them at

The Good Grief Trust

You can access National Grief Awareness Week resources, as well as practical help and tips.

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