Tuesday 24 April 2018

Talking About Bereavement

Emily writes about bereveament and the impact its intrinsic links with mental health and wellbeing.

- Emily Maybanks

Earlier this year, I was featured in a BBC News article (and a Wales Online article) about the importance of talking about death and dying. Yes, this is a pretty morbid topic. I was speaking to the media on behalf of the hospice charity ‘Sue Ryder’. My Dad was cared for in their Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading at the end of his life six years ago. The charity was calling to end the taboo surrounding speaking about death. Death is something that inevitably affects us all and not talking about it – in a very similar way that not talking about mental health leads to this too – makes it awkward. 

Bereavement and mental health can be linked. A traumatic life event such as bereavement can trigger mental health difficulties. This is certainly the case in my life and with my experiences. After my Dad passed away in 2012, during my final year of A Levels, it honestly felt as though my life would never be the same as it was before. This was difficult for me to accept. After my Dad died, I was diagnosed with depression and I’ve struggled on and off with depression and anxiety ever since. 

Losing my Dad shapes everything I do in my life. Everything from choosing to go to University, to studying abroad, to writing for and being an editor for the students’ newspaper at University – every choice I make, I wonder what my Dad would say, or how he would feel. Sometimes, this doesn’t help my emotional health at all. Other times, it’s comforting to think that he might be proud of me. One of the things that I have learnt over the past six years is that the pain of losing someone never quite goes away. Yes, it gets easier to deal with, but it never completely vanishes and it is wrong to expect it to. The thought of graduating this summer without my Dad watching me is heart breaking. Every Birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas and anniversary, I miss him so much it hurts. 

Talking about it and being open about how I feel about my Dad’s death is something that I struggled with enormously at first. Once I came to University, I met people who had been through similar things and I felt more comfortable to talk about my own experiences of bereavement. I have also found that talking about bereavement is helpful in helping me to deal with my own emotions and it feels less and less awkward when I do talk about it.  

If you would like to get involved with our Men's Mental Health blogging series, then you can find all of the details here. You can also send us an email at blog@studentminds.org.uk for more details!

My name is Emily (Em). I am currently in my final year studying Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting at Swansea University, where I'm also the Creative Writing Section Editor and Deputy Editor for The Waterfront - Swansea's student newspaper. I wanted to write for Student Minds because I have experienced depression and anxiety as well as other health issues, and I support friends who have also experienced mental health difficulties. I am also a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences - both in helping me to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help others. 

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