The three Rs of grief and loss

This video discusses three elements of grief and loss: recognition, remembering and rebuilding.

Video transcript

Hi there. My name is Louise Knowles, and I'm the head of Mental Health and Psychological Therapy Services at the University of Sheffield. And I want to talk to you about loss and grief in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

The three Rs of grief and loss; Recognition, Remembering, Re-building

So some of us will be experiencing loss right now. And sadly, some of us will have lost loved ones and will be grieving. More than ever, it's really important to say that we're entitled to feel loss, about a range of different things. So from the tangible: so the loss of a loved one, to the less tangible: the loss of our freedom, the loss of the feeling of hope for our future. In order to help you navigate what you might be experiencing right now, I want to talk to you about the three R's to loss and grief. So the three R's are recognition, remembering and rebuilding, and I want to go through those each in turn.


So, recognition. So simply put this is where we recognize that we've lost something, this is the acute phase, we might struggle to accept what's happened. When we lose someone or something that's important to us it's really common to struggle to accept this. So at the start of the pandemic, we might have struggled to accept what was happening, and the impact that this was happening on our lives. And as this situation has changed, or change, we may re experience this phase again. If we've lost a loved one, we can really struggle to believe it. And it's particularly true, if it's someone that we don't see that often, so, for example, grandparents. We can end up revisiting that early phase of loss, again and again and again, each time we would have expected to see them. So things like family gatherings can become really painful events.

So in this early phase, it's really important that we take, take good care of ourselves and pay attention to our basic needs. So, we need to eat regularly, and eat well, we need to get enough sleep. And we need some structure. So something as simple as a regular get up time, and a regular go to bed time, can really help in this early phase.

And also in this early phase, we need to treat it like it's a shock. So we need to take that good care of ourselves and we need to give ourselves permission, that we can feel a range of different feelings. So we can feel anger, we can feel sad, we can feel relief, we can feel frightened, we can feel loneliness. And also, we can feel guilt.


So the second R is remembering. And this is where we begin to process our loss. We need to find ways to help us express what we're feeling inside. So sharing photos can be a way that we can support ourselves to talk about our loss. Externalizing how we feel will really help us move forward with our loss. Remembering and reminiscing about what we've lost is really about how we make sense and create meaning out of what's happened to us.

So, talk and tell, give yourself permission to talk and keep talking and tell your story to someone that respects and will listen to you. Tell people that you're grieving. It's important that you keep expressing your sense of loss, and let people know you want to talk about what's happened to you. Tell your tutors. It's really important that you feel listened to and understood. And remember, the average grief process can range for a number of weeks to three to four years. So it's absolutely fine that you can take your time.


And the third R is about readjusting. So this is where we readjust. So we're not the person that we were before, this, this experience has changed who we are. And it's common in this phase, that we feel an urge or a pull to change our lives in some way. So we may want to move house, we might want to start a new activity or start a new relationship. We often make some change to reflect what's happened to us internally. So Coronavirus may have limited the ways in which we can make these changes to our lives. So you might want to think about smaller steps. Rather than moving house, you might want to rearrange a room or start a new hobby, display some photos of a loved one.

Finally, there's no fixed way of dealing with loss or grief. But it can be really helpful to understand about the process. Loss is lifelong. So the loss I experienced early in my life has an impact on who I am today. I'm now better able to bear and make meaning out of the loss and I'm better able to understand when I'm experiencing loss and know when I need to reach out. So, reach out and tell your story.

And one final message. If your loss or grief feels too big or overwhelming, it is fine to seek professional help.