How sharing grief can help to cope

(from left) Jim Whitworth, Fiona Walmsley and Janice Arrowsmith, who run the GriefShare group in Blackpool, Fiona holding a picture of her daughter Carargh.
(from left) Jim Whitworth, Fiona Walmsley and Janice Arrowsmith, who run the GriefShare group in Blackpool, Fiona holding a picture of her daughter Carargh.
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From Prince Harry talking publicly about burying his grief after the death of his mum Diana, to people laying flowers for strangers at St Ann’s Square in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack which killed 22 people, recent headlines in the press have shone a spotlight on grief.

And a Blackpool mum wants to spread the message it is healthy and helpful to talk about grief.

Fiona Walmsley, of Marton, set up a local GriefShare group to enable those who have lost a loved one – whether recently or several years ago – to talk about and work through it, as she is aware of the problems people can experience when trying to deny grief or loss.

Fiona lost her daughter Caragh Melling suddenly on December 27, 2014. It was even harder to deal with the death of the 37-year-old probation officer as pathologists’ reports proved inconclusive and Fiona had to fight for an inquest.

Fiona said: “Following on from the sudden and tragic death of my wonderful daughter, I continued to ask many questions. I could not accept someone could drop down dead and no one seemed to bother to find out why. During this period I felt totally alone in my grief and desire for the truth.

“What did get me through was the knowledge I have a deep relationship with Jesus. My church, Gate Community Church, Bispham, was very supportive and when I found out about a bereavement course we could run for the benefit of others, they agreed.”

The GriefShare course – developed by a Christian organisation and used internationally – runs Thursdays, at Asda Superstore, Cherry Tree Road, Marton, 7 until 9pm. It is delivered by a team of three – Fiona, Janice Arrowsmith and Jim Whitworth, who have all experienced loss and bereavement.

It is a structured course which uses materials, including DVDs and the Bible to work through aspects of grief such as guilt, anger, complicating factors, the impact on relationships and how to recover.

Fiona, a university lecturer and teacher, said: “The course offers practical information about how to look after ourselves and start to rebuild our lives. Although it is a Christian course which uses Bible verses, it is suitable for anyone of any faith. All ages and backgrounds are warmly welcomed.

“We share our experiences with others in the hope this will enable them to cope with their loss and give them an outlet to talk about their feelings. In our culture, we bury our feelings about the death of loved ones. Sometimes grief can cause people to feel very lonely as others may not want to talk about it. Pent-up grief has to come out somewhere.

“We cannot erase the pain of death, but we encourage people to believe it is okay to feel the way they do and give themselves permission to talk about their feelings and honour the memory of loves ones in positive and affirming ways.”

After Caragh’s death, Fiona also set up free CPR and first-aid courses. To find out more, call 07969087352 or email julia.walmsley@yahoo.com