“The heart that has truly loved never forgets....*”
One woman's story of loss and grief and how to survive the journey
Janet Gershlick is a well known and respected broadcaster with many years experience working in
radio with the BBC and independent stations such as Capital Gold and Talk Radio UK.
She has also worked in television as an "Agony Aunt" both locally and on a national level as a co-host presenting with Trisha Goddard on her Channel 5 problem-solving show. She has travelled all over the world teaching broadcasting skills, presenting with British Forces Radio in Hong Kong, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands and is also medically qualified.
A personal, poignant and powerfully honest look at one woman’s journey through grief and how she survived with a little help from Bertie the cat and a second-hand bike helmet. With passion, insight and wit, the story will evoke emotions, thoughts and ideas about life and loss and how we can survive the devastation of grief.
The mind and its eye will present you with images stuffed full of memories and so vivid you can almost touch them.
Bereavement is difficult to imagine for those who have not lost but When The Sky Falls In is for all of us as we journey through life. The writing of the book and the recording of the emotions seemed the only way for me to get through the devastating loss - and surprisingly I was able to find humour as well.
Everyday I would record how my life both stayed the same and had also been changed for ever. I realised that my words could perhaps help others through their journey of grief and loss.
In the multimedia book the boundaries between literature and performance overlap. Some stories you will read. Some you will hear. All of them you will experience.
I had also found a style that lent itself to being performed and so after two years in development with director Ralph Bogard it became a performance piece that was toured worldwide.
The response has been amazing with many standing ovations.
This year I am so proud to be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe.
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And then it happened. The very worst and she was no longer there. Anywhere. Nowhere. Gone...
So here it is. Someone has died and you have no idea how to comfort, or say the right words, to the bereaved. You practise the words in your head but somehow they don’t seem enough. You can see the distress, the tears, the loss and the emotional pain - and you have perhaps a minute to say something to make a difference. Words are often well meant but can words ever comfort or heal? Maybe you could just cross over to the other side of the road - and say nothing.
‘How are you doing?’ ‘You are looking lot better’. You may feel you want to give advice? ‘It will get better’. ‘You will get better’ ‘You will get through it’. ‘Life goes on’.
This may feel right to you but it may not work for them.
When I was at the very early stages of grieving all of the above and more was said to me - and although well meant the words often hurt. Often it was not what I wanted to hear.
So - what to say?
They say that grief is a very lonely place. It isolates and separates you.
So perhaps you could just say ‘I am so sorry for your loss’ . Allow them to talk - even if you have heard it many times before. You may not want to hear the same story over and over again but the need for the bereaved to repeat details is often overwhelming.
It sometimes makes uncomfortable listening and you may wonder how long they will need to keep talking about their loss and when you can leave them to it!
You may want them to move on. To protect you from their grief. But this is your timetable - not theirs. Let them breathe their own rhythm as they grieve.
Grief and loss are so emotionally difficult and exhausting for everyone but if you can stay calm in the middle of their life changing storm then you have done your very best. And they will be comfortable with you and your understanding and reach out to you when they can.
If you would like to discuss or comment on How Not to Greet Grief please do contact me.
If you would like to send me an email with your views, reviews and comments then I would love to hear from you - and be happy to reply.