Five Things I’ve learnt about grief by Merryn Gott.

By Merryn Gott

By Merryn Gott

1. Grief is not a one off, time limited experience that can be overcome. However, with time, it can be something we assimilate within ourselves. The pain will ebb and flow, and can bring strength also.

2. Bearing witness to other people’s grief is important, as is allowing others to bear witness to ours (if and when we are able to).

3. Vocalizing grief can be incredibly therapeutic, but often shut down in Western cultures. We have so much to learn from indigenous and other cultures about how to support grieving, including the sounds and physical expressions of grief.

4. Bereavement by suicide profoundly shakes our sense of who we are. However much we know rationally that we couldn’t change the outcome, it is very hard to accept this in our hearts. All we can do is to be as kind to ourselves as our loved one would have wanted us to be.

5. Death is a reminder to us all to live the lives others so wanted to, but couldn’t. Jump in the ocean, dance uninhibitedly, watch the sunrise. We have a responsibility to find the joy while we can.

Merryn Gott

About Merryn Gott
Merryn became interested in palliative and end of life care when working as a volunteer with children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS as a teenager. She is now Professor of Health Sciences and Director of the bicultural 
Te Ārai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group based in the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Te Ārai's work is informed by Māori values and their research programme aims to promote equity at end of life. Over the past 25 years she has been gifted many stories of dying and grieving by her research participants, as well as having experienced her own bereavements. Most notably her best friend, Dr Charlotte Hall, an amazing person and doctor, took her own life almost 10 years ago.