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What do your Family and Friends mean to you?

1000 877 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach


This is the fifth in a series of articles to help you focus on a different aspect of your life and to inspire and motivate you to make a change in one or more areas.

What do your Family and Friends mean to you?

• How often do you see close family?
• Do you have a circle of good friends?
• How often do you spend time with them?
• Do you have a good relationship with your children?

This week is about focusing on the important people in your lives.

When you’re putting in the hours at work, it’s too easy to ignore or take for granted those closest to you and those that know you best. You snatch a couple of hours in the evening and maybe you manage a bit of time at the weekend. Are you zoning out or trying to relax with a bit of TV, eating meals while you work or check social media or emails? Are you still thinking about work as you read the children a bedtime story, catching up on work when they’re in bed or getting home so late you miss their evening routine?

Maybe friends have moved away and you don’t see members of your family as often. You keep meaning to call and arrange to meet up but ‘you’re too busy this week’, you’ve got a report due next month, you’re busy for the next two weekends … Next week becomes next month and then next year and before you know it years have passed and you’ve lost touch.

You’ll have friends you don’t see often but when you reconnect it’s as if you’ve never been apart.

While social media can help you to stay connected with friends and family you don’t get a chance to see as often, it can also make you more isolated. Even families living together retreat to separate locations to chat to their ‘online’ friends but forget to have real conversations with the people right there in front of them.

Friends come and go during the course of our lives. You may have friends you’ve known since childhood. Friends you’ve met at different stages of your life and then move on to new and different friends.


What difference could you make to your Family & Friends this week?

• Who in your family haven’t you spoken to in a while?
• Phone a friend you’ve been meaning to talk to for a while.
• Write a letter or send an email to a friend or family.

Spend time this week with the important people in your life. Not just time you would normally spend together but plan something different.

Re-evaluate your relationships with your friends. Do you have friends who always seem to want something from you? Do some of your friends drag you down more than they lift you up.

Only have people around you who respect and support you, who you enjoy being with and make the time and effort to see or talk to them regularly.

Enjoy the time spent with your family and friends this week.


Good Grief

1024 772 Susan Carr

good grief

As I mentioned in my last article, as a counsellor I am used to talking about death particularly in relation to bereavement. There is a vast amount of literature on this topic and it would not be possible to summarise it all here but I thought it may be useful to share some of the ways that I work with bereavement.

When a person experiences a bereavement there can be all sorts of emotions – shock, anger, sadness, guilt, confusion and it may feel as though your whole life has been turned upside down. These feelings may be difficult to control and there can be a fear that you are somehow “going mad”. However these are all natural reactions to a bereavement and form part of the process that is called “grief”.

The grief process is different for everyone although as noted in the literature there are common experiences and feelings. Grief will be affected by a number of different factors such as your relationship with the person who has died, your past experience of bereavement, the circumstances of the death (for example, whether it was caused by illness, accident, murder, suicide etc) , other stressors in your life and many other variables. This is why a person can have quite different grief reactions to different bereavements. There is no set time limit for the grief process despite the fact that comments are often made such as “you should be over this by now”. There is an argument that for some people they may never fully get over their grief but that what happens with time is that their life grows around the grief.

Some of the literature around bereavement refers to different “stages” , however it is not meant that grief is a linear process whereby you neatly move from one stage to the next; it is more likely that there will be movement backwards and forwards between the “stages” . More recent thinking around bereavement talks about a “dual process” in that a person needs to spend time grieving for the loss but also getting on with life and that it is helpful to oscillate between both states so that sometimes a person may be consumed by their grief but at others they can be engaging in everyday life (going to work, meeting friends, making plans).

This leads onto the sticky question of when is the right time to return to work after bereavement, particularly in the high pressured environment of law firms. The answer is that it will be different for each person and just because a colleague returned after two weeks does not necessarily mean that it is right for you. There can be benefits to returning to work, such as:-

  • Support from colleagues.
  • The certainty provided by a regular routine
  • Distraction from the loss which may encourage feelings of “normality”
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem

However, there can also be difficulties, such as:-

  • Work may be too stressful and may add to the feelings of grief.
  • Lack of concentration and memory may impact on productivity which can then lead to lack of confidence and self-esteem.
  • Anxiety about talking to colleagues and what to say

Check out whether your firm has a bereavement policy (ACAS and Cruse Bereavement Care
have produced guidance about this for employers) and talk to your manager about how much time you need and/or any other adjustments that could be made eg reduced work hours or workload.
Some tips that you may find helpful following bereavement:

  • Accept that grief is a normal response to loss and that healing takes time.
  • Be prepared for the fact that some days you may feel better than others and that certain dates may be difficult (birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations)
  • Talk about your feelings with friends and family (although also be aware that sometimes others may find it difficult to deal with grief and may not always say the “right” thing).