We are always intrigued as to where phrases that we use every day, came from. Take the phrase used in this month’s article title, this is attributed to Alfred, Lord Tennyson and can be found in the 1850 poem ‘In memoriam A.H.H.’ written on the occasion of his young friend’s death. It is also the poem where the other famous line: ‘Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all’ came from. In modern times we use ‘so near and yet so far’ to describe the gulf between where we are and where we want to be. So close, we can almost see it, taste it, touch it - but there is still a way to go.
During March we stand on the threshold of those aged 50+ being offered their first vaccination against this horrible Covid-19, so this phrase really seems to resonate. We are so much further on than we were this time last year – and a HUGE ‘hurrah’ to all those scientists who have worked tirelessly to make it so – but still we have to be careful. We trust the Government's roadmap makes sense and gives you, as well as us, renewed hope that better days really do lie ahead. However, until things return to whatever ’normal’ will look like for 2021, please can we urge caution and care? By continuing to do what is right, this threat will recede, a slightly less restrictive life will resume and once again we will be able to shop, go out for coffee and share lunch with family and friends.
Here at Hope Trust our work has had to be slimmed down; phone calls, emails, cards, letters, Zoom & Facetime video chats and What’s App calls have all been utilised but we long for a return to actually sitting down and chatting with someone sitting opposite us. We also long to meet new people; respond to, and support, those who have undergone the experience of bereavement by hosting our Spring Bereavement Support Group. We can’t wait to host a Men’s event or watch one of the new DVD’s that was bought months ago to be shown at the monthly Film Event. The Scrabble and Rummikub tiles are clean and ready to be used and we are both looking forward to visiting The Hut on the seafront just as soon as we can.
We are so near, yet so far - so please, keep doing all that is good and right, because one day soon we will make it to the place we’d all rather be!
You know when the phone rings at 1am that something, somewhere is horrible wrong. You grab for the phone, your brain trying to wake up and become alert before its second ring. You listen, you respond, you jump out of bed and scrabble for suitable clothing before you rush out of the door. You drive, you park, you knock, you don your face mask, recognising that it’s not a good sign when staff are right there, waiting for you, with a thermometer, apron and gloves. Once wearing the required PPE, you walk into your elderly Mum’s room and begin the end-of-life vigil. Keeping family informed is a small opportunity for the tightly held emotions to slip a bit, but for some reason it can feel necessary to rein that all back in again until what is expected, happens.
Then there is the phone call saying ‘your brother has died’ – a very unexpected passing, the ‘but he’s only 65 that’s no age’ sort of hurdle that seems to block the reality of the situation. The inevitable flat clearance, under a time pressure because the landlord wants to rent it out again ‘just as soon as possible.’ Another funeral, another estate, yet more administrative hurdles to overcome.
For many more people than usual, loss, grief, expected and unexpected deaths are the reality, as we journey through this pandemic. The toll of not one, but two losses within 3 months of each other, has brought to light within our family a number of emotions – sadness, anger, anxiety, a sense of relief as well as being overwhelmed, isolation, irritation and numbness. All normal emotions but each having to be dealt with, whilst continuing the ‘normal’ functions of life.
Here at Hope Trust we try to deliver a 4-week Bereavement Support Group course in the Spring and the Autumn. In each of the weeks we talk about how to grieve well, we explain that grief takes time, we look at different emotions associated with grief, we talk about how whilst there is no time frame for just how long your grief will last, just that you will survive and get through it. We also give those who attend a chance to share their personal stories because everyone’s experience of grief and loss is unique to them.
We also dispel some myths over the 4 weeks of the course - Pain will not go away faster if you ignore it: You don’t have to be strong in the face of your loss: Not crying does not equate to not caring: Moving on with life does not mean you will forget them.
If you have experienced loss and feel the need to work through your grief, then Hope Trust is here for you. Our Spring course will begin just as soon as we are allowed to host it safely, but if it would help to chat between now and then, please give us a call. If that doesn’t work for you then there are also a number of good resources available on the internet, try www.helpguide.org or even the website of the Funeral Director you used, that will have a number of helpful links as well. Remember - you are not alone.
We All Need Hope
So, January 2021, how are you coping? As we write we have questions - how do we cope with this third lockdownt? How is the vaccine roll out going – and perhaps more importantly - where are we on the list of priorities, if at all? This is the first time in our lifetime that such questions have consumed us at the start of a New Year. Normally around this time we’d be concerned about families having overspent in the run up to Christmas but, just as the Dictionary people couldn’t come up with one word that summed up 2020 and had to use 16 instead, we find ourselves preoccupied with many concerns, not just one or two. This, to our minds is not the best way to start a brand-new year! The solution to all that angst? Hope. ‘Hope in being able to see that there is light, despite all the darkness.’ (Desmond Tutu)
Hope is a tricky thing to define and even trickier to achieve. There is no doubt that 2020 was one of the hardest years either of us has ever lived through. Admittedly the panic that we might actually die, as a result of the virus, has eased as we practice the Government’s ‘Hands, Face, Space’ mantra. We have faced overwhelming uncertainty, we have struggled to work from home, we have really missed the buzz, chemistry and out and out fun that being around the people we work with and serve usually gives us; so how have we coped, how will we cope in this new year? Well, here is our Plan A, hope it helps.
Reach Out – You are not alone. Okay, you might be alone in your flat or house but there is a whole group of people around you who want to help. Hope Trust is one, but so is Walton Parish Nursing, ActivLives, the CAB, Felixstowe Volunteer Centre, local churches and Foodbanks, to name but a few. All you simply need to do is reach out and make some more, new and meaningful connections.
Express Gratitude – It may not be easy, but try to find one, two or more things to be grateful for. It could be a dry day! It might be finding something on Lidl’s shelves that has been out of stock for a few weeks. Take strength from what is good around you and say thank you.
Be Kind – we talked about this a bit last month, but we know being kind feels good and does you good! Being kind can stop you worrying about your problems for a time and can make a huge difference to someone else who may also be struggling.
Engage – Whilst we know we can’t control everything; we can control some things. So, focus on the things you can change for the better, no matter how small and work with what you have. That could be coming along to a Hope Trust event, attending an exercise class, volunteering, be willing to serve in your community as a School Governor or Parish Councillor, you name it there is always something that needs to be done, question is, are you the person to do it?