Change and Loss are two things in life that are guaranteed. They are universal experiences that nobody can avoid. The global pandemic has turned many of our worlds upside-down and forced us to experience massive changes in our lives. Things that we took for granted were taken from us suddenly and without warning. The losses we experienced since March 2020 have been innumerable. Many people have also experienced loss through death during this time which has been devastating. It made sense to us that we would provide sessions on both of these topics in an effort to help people navigate these turbulent times.
Experiencing bereavement can be life-shattering. Losing a loved one during the pandemic added layers of awfulness to the situation. At present we feel as if we are all hanging on by our fingernails. In Ireland, the number of people vaccinated is progressing at a fast rate but we are still not out of the woods yet.
In our sessions on change and loss we give participants the opportunity to firstly take stock of where they are. The ‘Coping with Change’ session is aimed at both adults and children. Families can watch it together. We developed this programme with our students when we started teaching remotely. We created a daily check-in tool where children could name their energy level, their feelings, practice gratitude and recite their affirmations. The feedback from both parents and children we received was so encouraging so we wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. We deal with different kinds of changes, including the pandemic, and suggest ways in which we can try to manage the resulting challenges.
The ‘Living with Bereavement’ session was a very special one for us to create. We were approached by a community centre for whom we had previously developed programmes and asked to tailor a session on self-care during times of loss. Both Aoife and I have experienced the heartbreak and pain that is grief. Aoife lost two family members, five months apart, one which occurred during the pandemic. She understood first-hand the debilitating effects of grieving through-out a pandemic and the loneliness that came as a result of her social outlets and family rituals being cut-off. Throughout this session we acknowledge the uniqueness of grief and compare this pain to a physical one.
When we break a bone, it is visible. We get a cast and strangers on the street can see that we have suffered an injury. When someone we love dies, our heart is literally broken but nobody can see this. In this session we witness all the broken hearts of people watching and go through many ways in which we can navigate our new world with self-compassion and kindness.
Change and loss are guaranteed but we are never taught tools to help us along the way. The feedback we have received from them has been heart-warming and propels us forward. As a former participant said “I would definitely recommend giving yourself the gift of this presentation – it was a presentation that I would watch again repeated times over a number of months. Various little nuggets have really struck a chord with me at various stages.”