Loss is a universal experience, and navigating through grief can feel like a tumultuous journey. It’s one that all of us, no matter where we’re from, will face at some point in our lives. But while we’re all connected in this shared human experience, it’s crucial to recognise that each person’s grieving process is unique, as is the support available in different parts of the world. For those of you in South Africa, I wanted to highlight some resources that may provide a lifeline during these challenging times.

Firstly, let’s make one thing clear – it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. Grief can sometimes feel like a murky pool that you’re stuck in, and reaching out for support is like grabbing hold of a lifeline. In South Africa, several organisations can offer that lifeline.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)

SADAG is a non-profit organisation that provides comprehensive mental health support, including resources for individuals coping with loss. They offer free telephonic counselling 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm, along with a vast repository of online resources. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, give them a ring at 0800 21 22 23.

The Compassionate Friends (TCF)

This international organisation has local chapters throughout South Africa and offers support to families after the death of a child, regardless of the child’s age or cause of death. The group provides various services, including support meetings, telephone contact, and bereavement packets. Find your local chapter at tcf.org.za.

Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA)

While typically associated with end-of-life care, hospices also provide post-loss support. HPCA offers grief and loss support to the family members of those who have been in their care, as well as to the broader community.

The next crucial point is self-care. I know, I know – it sounds like a buzzword, but it’s essential, especially when dealing with loss.

Physical Activity

Whether it’s a walk in the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, or a jog along the stunning Durban beachfront, physical activity can offer you a chance to reflect, heal, and find some calm amid the storm.

Stay Connected

Keeping in touch with friends and family can be a lifeline. Whether you’re up for a braai with your mates, or a simple phone call with a loved one, remember that it’s okay to lean on the people in your life.

Healthy Habits

Ensure you’re eating well and getting plenty of rest. Your body is dealing with a significant emotional toll, and it’s important to give it the fuel and rest it needs.

Lastly, it’s okay to celebrate the life of the person you’ve lost. There are beautiful ways to do this that can aid in the healing process. Plant a tree in their memory, launch a lantern at one of South Africa’s beautiful beaches, or even donate to a charity they loved.

Remember, there’s no “right” way to grieve. It’s a deeply personal process, and it’s okay to move at your own pace. But you don’t have to do it alone. There are resources available, and it’s okay to reach out. In fact, it can be one of the bravest things you do.

Remember, as the isiXhosa proverb says, “Ubunzima abupheli” – troubles do not last. It’s a reminder that even in the face of profound loss, there is a path forward to healing and acceptance. Be gentle with yourself, reach out for support, and take each day as it comes. You’re not alone in this journey.

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