Things to know about coping with grief

Funeral director and bereavement counsellor Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience working with people who are grieving

How did you become an expert in grieving?

I always wanted to be an undertaker, and became the youngest female qualified funeral director. I’m also a certified grief recovery specialist. My overriding passion has always been to help people and give them their life back after loss.

 

What are the different ways in which people respond to a death?

Each loss is different. How we grieve depends on who we are as people and on the relationship we had at the time of the loss. If we had a complete relationship with someone, we might experience the natural sadness of separation without the gnawing anguish of regret. We need emotional completion.

 

How important is it to manage grief properly?

It’s absolutely vital because it can affect your capacity for moving forward and your future happiness. It’s important to recognise if we’re using negative coping mechanisms such as retail therapy, sleeping or drinking more.

 

What tips can you give people to help them cope with grief?

Find someone you trust and talk about your feelings. Eat well, get plenty of rest. Accept that it’ll always be OK to have those moments of sadness and don’t pretend you’re OK if you’re not. Accept how you feel in the present moment and be honest about your feelings.

 

What advice can you give people who are trying to support someone who’s bereaved?

Actually listen. Don’t jump in with your own experience—it minimises the importance of the other person’s feelings. Each experience of loss is unique.

Lianna’s book How to Grieve Like a Champ is published by Red Door Publishing.