Re the letters about grief (The pain of ‘moving on’ after a loved one dies, 21 June), my mother, who was widowed at the age of 71 after 50 years of marriage, told me more recently that it had taken her five years to reach a point where she felt that she was truly living again, rather than just having to get through life one day at a time. I do not think that anyone in the family suspected this at the time. We all thought that she was coping marvellously. She came from that generation inclined to bear pain of all kinds with stoicism and in private.
Both my partner of 56 years and my 51-year-old daughter have recently died, and I read the letters about grief with interest, as I too benefit from the support of the group of which Louise Rendle is a member. And I recognise the “despairing grief” to which Jean Simons refers. But may I also mention to those who have experienced the death of a child of any age that there is a group specifically for parents and other family members. The Compassionate Friends can be found at www.tcf.org.uk, where there is a variety of support offered, from local groups and online support to weekend retreats.
When our two-year-old son died, counselling for the bereaved did not exist. The pain was constant and physical, but one day a widow told me that I would experience a gap in the grieving that would gradually lengthen, and she was right. Grief is complex. Regret and guilt can be part of it. Why didn’t I recognise how our little boy was failing? Why did I expect him to climb the stairs and not realise that he lacked the strength? It was not denial but ignorance, as I did not realise that children can suffer from cancer. The pain recedes, but still catches one unawares. My heart goes out to parents who have lost children.
My husband died 27 years ago. We would have been married 45 years ago this month. You don’t get over it; in my experience you get used to it. The awful pain of grief certainly changes you as a person.