Captain Sir Tom Moore: Yes, It's Perfectly Normal To Grieve For Captain Tom
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: PA
"I feel like I've lost my own grandfather."
"I haven't felt this amount of grief since I lost my mother."
Just a few of the messages that have flooded Twitter in the wake of Captain Sir Tom Moore's death this week.
The beloved WWII veteran and fundraising hero passed away on Tuesday at the age of 100 following a battle with pneumonia and coronavirus.
And while his immediate family have spoken of their "great sadness", it seems they aren't the only ones feeling his loss, amid an outpouring of grief across social media.
But, as psychotherapist Ruairi Stewart tells Tyla, while this may seem a disproportionate response to the death of someone you don't know on a personal level, it's a perfectly natural reaction.
"The feelings of loss people are experiencing over his passing totally normal," says Ruairi (ruairistewart.com/ @thehappywholecoach).
"So many of us felt connected to this man who served as an inspiration to his country in his final year of life. For everyone who was touched by his actions, knowing he has now passed away, they are also sharing in a very real collective grief as a nation.
"It also reminds us of our own mortality and any issues we may have with grief, which we don't often sit within our day-to-day thoughts.
"It can genuinely feel like a personal loss and you experience it as such - this means you need to give yourself space and time to process it. You may have mixed feelings, but it is so important to allow them room to be felt and processed and not to judge yourself for how you are responding.
"With inspiring public figures, it is also important to know you won't be alone in how you feel - collectively people are grieving with you and what Sir Tom represented."
This grief is compounded by everything that Captain Tom came to represent in the face of the pandemic - "hope, optimism, resilience and true generosity" - Ruairi adds.
But why did so many feel as though they knew him personally? "This type of relationship connection can sometimes be referred to as a 'para social interaction,'" says Ruairi.
"We form a connection with the person through their exposure in the media - who they are and what they represent can give us a sense of familiarity with them and their journey.
"I think in this case, Captain Tom's story served as inspiration, hope and a spirit of resilience for a nation who have been struggling to adapt to the realities of this pandemic. People take comfort in stories like this - it can help them face the challenges in their own lives."
However, Ruairi stresses, the news of him passing will affect people for different reasons: "The meaning attributed to his loss will depend person to person. For some, it might reaffirm the seriousness of the pandemic.
"For others it may highlight their own mortality and possible unresolved grief. Everyone will react in their own way based on their own experiences."
To those struggling to understand why they are feeling this way, Ruairi says: "Your feelings are valid. You don't have to explain why you feel upset at his passing.
"Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, move with the feelings and process them at your own pace and in your own time. You don't need to explain to anyone why this has impacted you the way it has, but it is important you allow yourself to feel what you need to feel for the grief to pass in a healthy way. Be patient and empathetic with yourself.
"Grief impacts people in various ways - every loss can feel unique and devastating for a variety of reasons. Give yourself space, time and empathy to grieve and honour the loss in your own way.
"It can genuinely feel like a personal loss and you experience it as such - this means you need to give yourself space and time to process it.
"You may have mixed feelings, but it is so important to allow them room to be felt and processed and not to judge yourself for how you are responding. With inspiring public figures, it is also important to know you won't be alone in how you feel - collectively people are grieving with you and what Sir Tom represented."
For help or support, visit mind.org.uk