• Remembrance Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on loved ones lost in times of conflict 

  • It can also offer opportunity, says counsellor Sarah Dean, to think about what else we may have lost, on a more personal level

  • If you are struggling with grief or a difficult life transition, find a therapist here

Summer is over and everything in the country is now sleeping. The leaves continue to fall and animals are hibernating; some birds are flocking and travelling to warmer climates. As people, we tend to hibernate too and plan our kitchen cupboards for the possibility of snow and 'gather the nuts' when we can, to create our winter nest. 

As Remembrance Sunday approaches, it can be good to take this opportunity to explore what poppies mean individually to you and compare your past to the present, where appropriate. What might your goals be, what does a happier future look and feel like?

November is a time to remember lost ones who are dear to us. Sometimes a part of our own identity is lost too; the home nest is emptier – young people at university, doing a gap year, or perhaps an important person has died. The future can look insecure, vulnerable and isolated. A safe place is a good start with a registered and highly trained counsellor who does not judge, is able to walk in your “shoes of life” and is genuine. Counsellors tend to be wounded healers.

We are approaching Christmas, a time where families may be split between in-laws, step families, perhaps parents and grandparents are taking the cruse to escape the pain of Christmases past, or couples are pondering what future Christmases will look like. 

Rachel Naomi Remen wrote:

“Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are build again.”

So whilst there are endings everywhere, there are also beginnings – the bulbs old and new are waiting to bloom. Renewal and growth go hand-in-hand and it's never too late to be creative, curious and happier. If you choose to look up at the sky riddled with stars and our moon rather than the ground, there is light even if you're in a car behind another on our darkening afternoons and inky mornings. 

What does your own poppy mean to you? What have you lost? Can you be re-connected to the lost and loved one? The answer is yes. No matter where you are in your bereavement journey, be it numb, angry, fearful, regretful or depressed, shame and blame with the associated feelings of anxiety, shock, lack of confidence where it might happen again, what’s the point, searching...talking to a counsellor can help.

You can change, you have choices and perhaps now is the time, for you, to have a happier and connected future.

Go well.

Sarah Dean is a verified welldoing.org therapist in Banbury

Further reading

Understanding and managing the loss of relationships

Why am I still crying? Identifying unresolved grief

Coping with memories of grief and loss at Christmas

Can you grieve something you never had?

How silence supports us in times of grief