As October begins, it’s time to start thinking about our next topic of awareness, and this month we’re looking at loss and how we can create a safe, supportive community for people going through some of life’s biggest difficulties.
This subject is particularly relevant after we focused upon the challenges faced by elderly people in September. Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for our Dementia Awareness Workshop or supported the event in some way. Many of the consequences of ageing (such as the death of friends, a deterioration in health, less independence) can lead to feelings of loss.
Loss is a universal experience and affects people of all ages. We see many visitors at the Hub who have faced loss in some form or another, whether it’s loss of health, relationships, a loved one, or financial security, and the list goes on.
We’d particularly like to start a conversation around pregnancy and baby loss this month. The 9th of October marks the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week, which is led by Sands, the UK stillbirth and neonatal death charity, in collaboration with over 60 charities in the UK.
Baby Loss Awareness Week
Sands explain that “Baby Loss Awareness Week is an opportunity:
- for bereaved parents and families across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives
- to break the silence around pregnancy or baby loss in the UK
- to ensure all bereaved parents in the UK get the best possible care, wherever they live, when they need it.”
Reflect is a fantastic charity in Harrogate that supports people facing pregnancy loss. Keep your eyes peeled, as we’ll be sharing more about their work later this month.
There are many other support agencies doing great work in our town. The Harrogate Borough Council has put together a really helpful list of the different kinds of local bereavement support available: you can read it over on their website.
It’s ok not to be ok
There are also two other awareness days coming up this month that we’d like to remember. It’s both “World Smile Day” (5th October) and Mental Health Day (10th October), which may seem like a strange combination in the same month! Whilst smiling has been shown to improve mental health and can stimulate happy thoughts, a smiley face can easily become a mask to cover up negative feelings.
We say this a lot, but we want really want people to know … it is ok not to be ok.
This is especially important to say in a place like Harrogate, (sometimes nicknamed “Happygate”) where we are often expected to have an affluent and idyllic lifestyle, making it even harder to be vulnerable about life’s struggles. (We’ve written more about the ‘Happygate façade’ recently over on the Harrogate Girl blog.)
World Smile Day began as a way of encouraging people to do small acts of kindness to make someone smile. Why not join us on the 5th, and do a random act of kindness? We’d love to hear what you get up to! Perhaps you know someone who has recently been bereaved or is going through a tough time, and would appreciate being treated or receiving a card.
If you’re wondering how to support a friend through loss or grief and how you can create a safe space for them to be themselves, it’s worth taking a read of Anna Naylor’s insightful piece on this subject for our blog earlier this year:
“Grief can be a very lonely experience so just having someone to talk to can be cathartic. You don’t need to fix anything- just offering an ear and supportive words, free from judgement, is a huge help. Try not to let the fear of saying the ‘wrong’ thing hold you back from talking about it with your friend or colleague. Remember, there’s very little you can do to make things worse. They’ll be glad you cared enough to approach it.”
If you’re facing loss yourself and need someone to talk to, or don’t know where to turn, please drop into the Hub for a chat with our trained pastoral carers. We are here to support you and walk alongside you through the dark and difficult times in life.