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When someone you are really close to dies

My Friend Jo

As a Paediatric Intensive Care Nurse, and as a Nurse in an AIDS Hospice I've seen more death than most people could imagine and comforted parents, husbands, wives and partners for a large part of my nursing career..... I even trained as a grief counsellor to help me with my day job.... but It was not until someone very close to me died that I really began to understand the gut wrenching anguish that the death of someone you have been really close to can be

Thirty years ago when I’d completed my training as a paediatric Intensive care nurse at Great Ormond Street, I was still struggling to deal with the realisation that within hours of first meeting some fairly stressed parents and admitting their very sick child to Intensive Care I could be sitting with them trying to help them in their grief.

I’d also trained as a bereavement counsellor and, looking back, this was probably to help me as much as these parents, although they often told me that my counselling was really helpful. How little I really knew and it was all theoretical at that time.

Christmas 2019 I lost my best friend Jo, my friend for all the 57 years she lived, a sledgehammer blow I lost someone really close, with whom I’d shared every landmark event in our lives. In my own grief and bereavement, I learned how much better I’d become at helping others Jo’s husband and brothers, Jo’s son my only Godson, his 8 year old step daughter and Jo’s Mum, all already grieving for Jo’s dad who’d died a couple of months before… But despite this I’ve truly struggled to help myself.

My own grief has been really debilitating, but it has taught me that grief can be deeply damaging to other people and valued friendships… I’m just so glad for the help and wise guidance I’ve received from friends all mental health professionals. I learned by experience that Physician heal thyself! is not just ironic, it’s pretty much impossible…

We all need help in these challenging times and in recent months where so many people have lost loved ones well before their time…. and have often been prevented from being with them and saying a proper goodbye, finding a perspective on our own grief can be so much harder without the kind of help and guidance I was lucky enough to get.

Some people find their religious faith helps – their priest, rabbi, imam, or other leader is central to recovery, for others and this does not exclude those with a strong faith of any type, guided meditation, mindfulness, and different exercises can help to focus your conscious and unconscious minds to reconcile themselves to your loss and to embed those memories of the person you loved. For many something intensely practical or intensely physical, raising money for a charity researching into whatever caused your loved one’s death, taking up swimming or running and taking part in challenging fundraising events works, for others it can be getting a grave or coffin decorated by friends to feel reassured that the memory lives on with other people other and to share in their grief.

If you have recently lost someone you really cared about or you know someone who is in this sad state, I’m here to help with a broad range of helpful techniques.

I’m happy to talk without obligation about your grief – which can be a help in itself – Please just call me.



Annie Winfield-Shearer

About the author

Annie Winfield-Shearer

Cognitive Hypnotherapist, Registered Nurse and Coach

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