One of the very cruellest, most unavoidable realities of life is that it ends. And unless we happen to die extremely prematurely, we will know the experience of bereavement many times. Some of us find that the losses we experience in our childhoods – our grandparents, perhaps, or some of our great-aunts and great-uncles – are somehow easy to make peace with than those that follow. Perhaps there’s a kind of folk wisdom that we possess as children that helps us to come to terms with loss. It can be a very different story once we’re adults; in whatever form loss comes, whether it’s the traumatising, premature death of a partner or the departure of a parent, bereavement at this time in our lives can come as a ruinous, devastating shock, hitting us in the solar plexus and blowing our happy lives apart. Self-care can go completely by the wayside as we’re left reeling, unable to see a way forward. It’s precisely at this time that we need to do something to demonstrate self-care, something soothing like gay massage or a holiday in the sun or plenty of time with friends. In our pain and anguish it may, of course, be at just this point that we’re least inclined to do any of those things. But it’s vital that we make that fresh start and do that one thing that will set us back on the path, in a state of forward motion.
Bereavement and grieving are such overpowering experiences that we may well need to arrange counselling of some sort to get us through the first few weeks. Talking to someone who really listens, who isn’t trying to mollify us but is instead allowing us our process, is a vital step towards recovery. There can be a galling aloneness in our realisation that we can no longer see our deceased loved ones. It’s helpful to look in the appropriate section at your nearest bookshop (or online) and get a sense of which bereavement authors most speak your language. And since bereavement has also been demonstrated to have an impact on physical health, lowering the immune system for example, doing things to assist health, such as gay massage London, is another important strategy for coping.