April 19, 2024

Grief doesn’t just vanish after bereavement leave

Imagine you’ve just bumped into your colleague at the coffee machine. They’ve clearly been crying, so you tentatively ask how they’re doing. Yeah, I’m fine, it’s just my dad died six months ago and I’m struggling with it.

“You think, ‘God, that’s hard. Must be hard being back at work,’” explains Cariad Lloyd, who – as well as presenting the Griefcast podcast – has just released her first book, You Are Not Alone; a much-needed meditation on grief and modern mourning.

“But what if somebody said, ‘Oh, my dad died 10 years ago, and I’m just having a really bad day‘? » asks Lloyd. Are we ready to have that conversation? Do we know how to create the emotional space for people to talk openly about bereavement? As Lloyd says, if someone is still grieving, “It doesn’t mean they’re going to collapse, they can’t do their job, or they need to be signed off sick for six months…but just allow people the space to be a bit sad sometimes. ”

Grief lingers long after we’ve taken our bereavement leave (usually limited to three to five days). And yet, if people don’t appear to be ‘over’ their grief during this time, the workplace is barely equipped to support them.

Here, Cariad Lloyd speaks to GLAMOUR about losing her dad at the age of 15, how the way we express grief has changed with the digital revolution, and how gender stereotypes still impact the way we grieve.

GLAMOUR: Hi, Cariad. Thanks so much for sitting down with us today. Your book You Are Not Alone follows your hugely popular podcast about grief, Griefcast. How have you found the process of writing and talking about your grief with other people?

Cariad: When I started the podcast in 2016, I really didn’t know that I needed to talk about it. I just knew I had this thing I hadn’t dealt with. And my hope originally was to talk to comedians because then I was like, «Well if I talk to comedians, it’ll be funny. » And, so even if it’s a sad story, your body would’ve felt the goodness of laughing.

When it came to writing the book, I wanted to gather all that information about all the similarities and differences of grief. Because I think grief is such a unique experience, it’s based entirely on you and that person’s relationship. And that can be different even within a family. So, it’s really important that we acknowledge that our experiences of grief are unique. But from doing Griefcast, these things kept coming up again and again and again. So, when I sat down to plan it, I was like, «Oh, what are the things that just everybody agrees on? » Everyone’s like, «Oh yes, this. This is the thing we keep talking about. »

Because I think when you do find those similarities, it lifts your grief a bit because you’re like, «Oh, “Yeah, it’s not just me. It’s not just me that’s like, ‘Oh yeah, we were laughing. ‘ This thing happened. Or I didn’t want to go and see them. Or I left the room for a second to get a cup of tea, and they went…’” all this stuff that just so many people kept saying the same thing to me. I’d be like, «This keeps coming up. Nobody knows. I’ve got to put this down. «

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