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Monday 20 November 2017

Don't be embarrassed to grieve Gerry's passing

Even if you didn't know Gerry, you shouldn't be embarrassed to grieve his passing, writes psychotherapist Caroline McDonagh. But don't mourn forever, that's not what he would have wanted

Grieving the loss of a loved one is something most of us experience at some stage of our life. We miss their presence, their voice, their laughter. Grief is part of the healing process to enable us to move on with our lives.

When we feel that sense of loss and that overwhelming grief for someone we didn't really know, or may not have even met, it can be confusing. This can happen when a celebrity dies as is the case at the moment.

The sad and sudden death of Gerry Ryan has resulted in an outpouring of grief and a feeling of loss that many are unfamiliar with. For others it's similar to the feelings they experienced after the death of well-known people like Princess Diana and Michael Jackson.

As a lifecoach and psychotherapist, and indeed someone who listened to Gerry Ryan on a regular basis, I'd like to reassure people that a certain amount of grieving for him is okay and natural. It's not strange or unusual to feel this way.

You don't need to feel embarrassed about it. It's okay to cry and express your grief. Your feelings are real. Particularly with all the media coverage at the moment it's a natural reaction to get caught up in the emotion of it.

Even though you may not have known Gerry personally, you may have been one of the hundreds of thousands who spent three hours a day listening to him on the radio, laughing and crying with him, living his life with him.

Or perhaps you followed him on Operation Transformation and followed the tips and advice. You may have felt he connected with you as if he was in your own home or car talking to you.

He was a familiar day-to-day voice, a celebrity you've come to know and love. It's natural to feel a sense of loss that he'll no longer be a part of your daily life.

Unfortunately, there is no right or perfect way to process a loss. It may help to focus on all the ways Gerry helped people and know that his spirit lives on.

If you picked up any tips or useful gems of wisdom from him then passing them on to others is a way of ensuring that his good work continues.

Some people are finding that signing a Book of Condolences or making a donation to charity as a token of their love, appreciation and respect is giving them a chance to say goodbye.

It's important to keep a realistic and positive perspective. Know that this feeling of loss will ease. Know that you will get through the mornings.

If need be, keep yourself busy and keep your mind focused on what you're doing -- ie, put your attention on what's happening in front of you, so you won't get too lost in thought or grief.

Also remember Gerry's great sense of humour. Do you really think he'd want us to continue mourning? Gerry lived a full life.

He wanted people to remember him with laughter. I think he'd want us to celebrate his life and live our own lives to the full, making every moment count.

While a short period of "healthy grieving" may be natural, sometimes the death of a celebrity triggers unhealed grief. It may remind people of their own personal losses. They may start reliving their own experiences of losing loved ones. If this is happening or it has triggered feelings of depression or you feel you're crying excessively, please contact a professional who will be able to help you through this.

Caroline McDonagh is an experienced psychotherapist and life coach

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