To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Daisy May Cooper talked to Fearne Cotton on the Happy Place podcast. Her words on grief are particularly poignant right now.
Everybody has their own way of dealing with grief, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. This is truer than ever right now, with many people’s emotions currently heightened by the pandemic. Some who have lost loved ones are understandably angry, while others are left feeling numb by the daily death tolls. But most of us can agree that grieving is messy, sad and hard to navigate.
Laughter, however, is often used as a coping mechanism. A significant piece of research published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported that bereaved spouses rate humour and happiness as being very important in their daily lives. Experiencing these positive feelings helped with bereavement adjustments.
This idea of how laughter and humour can help us through the hard times, especially when it comes to grief, is something This Country creator Daisy May Cooper shares her experience of in the latest Happy Place episode.
Speaking to Fearne Cotton on the podcast for Mental Health Awareness Week, Cooper reflects on the death of her co-star Michael Sleggs, who died while the third series of This Country was being written.
“It’s actually really hit me,” Cooper says. “Do you know what, I always find it strange when you lose somebody that you didn’t necessarily see everyday. It’s kind of harder because subconsciously you kind of feel like they’re still there. It’s really hit me now that he’s gone and he’s never coming back.”
She continues to share an anecdote about her friend, laughing: “It’s really funny, I was looking the other day through a load of old WhatsApps that he had sent me - because he was so fucking funny, but also such a plonker.
“We’d sent him to the Southbank Awards on our behalf because we didn’t fancy going and I got this whole thing about he’d been at the table next to Stormzy and he tried to take a sly picture of [him], at which point Stormzy ironically stormed over and completely bollocked him in front of everybody.
“That just makes me laugh, because he was just the kind of person who wouldn’t think that’s a really stupid thing to fucking do. It’s those things that just keep me going, those memories.”
Cooper explains how her family has always used humour to get through tough times together – especially her brother and writing partner Charlie.
Talking about the hardships her family went through while growing up, she continues: “Humour is a thing that brings us so much closer and because things were so bleak, so desperately bleak, it was all that we had. Sitting around and just chatting and making each other laugh is the most valuable thing that I think you can have as a family. It certainly helped us get through that time.”
You can listen to the full interview on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place.
If you, or a loved one, would like support with grieving, please visit Cruse Bereavement Care.
Cruse Bereavement Care is the UK’s leading national charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, offering face-to-face, telephone and website support. Visit the website at cruse.org.uk or call 0808 808 1677
Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland can be found at crusescotland.org.uk, call 0845 600 2227
Images: Getty, BBC