OPINION: In Donegal we are not accustomed to grieving alone

A view of Donegal through the coronavirus crisis and beyond by journalist Siobhán McNamara

Grieving alone is not in our nature

Grieving alone is not in our nature

One of the many wonderful things about Donegal is the way in which people step in to help in times of bereavement. 

You don’t need to ask, there are people in every extended family and local community who know what to do, who to call, what is needed. They slip into their respective roles and allow you to get on with dealing with the emotional trauma while they ensure there is an endless supply of teabags, milk, cake, sandwiches. Mugs and tea towels appear, dinners are put in front of you.

Then you have the people who come to pay their respects, who share their memories of the deceased, help you to see them in a different light, remembering their life and realising how many lives they touched.

Family gather from afar, pillars of strength in times of loss.

Funeral services celebrate the life of the deceased, while also being a time for much outpouring of emotion.

I have often wondered how people cope - in cultures which in other ways are not too different from our own - without this support to ground their grief.

My heart goes out in these times of lockdown and social distancing to people who lose a loved one. It must be a terribly lonely time.

What we are still blessed with is that our funeral directors are generally people who are at the heart of our communities. And so it falls to them, along with the clergy, to provide practical and emotional support until such time as the rest of us can come together to support the bereaved and try to ease their pain with memories that raise a smile.

In the meantime, we can but make a phone call or send a message to let people know that we are thinking of them, and know that we will hug them tight or shake their hand when the time is right.

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