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Coping with grief: Bob Geldof’s comments about daughter Peaches are an important read

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Kayleigh Dray
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Coping with grief: hand holds up yellow flower against a grey sky

Nearly six years ago, the television personality Peaches Geldof died of a drug overdose. Her father, the musician Bob Geldof, has spoken of how he will be dealing with her loss forever.

Nearly six years ago, Peaches Geldof died at her Kent home from an accidental heroin overdose. She was only 25, a mother to two young boys, and wife to the musician Thomas Cohen.

While the years may have passed since her death, that doesn’t mean that the grieving process has eased for her family. This weekend, her father, the Boomtown Rats musician Bob Geldof, told an Irish television show about his experiences of the “ever present” nature of grief.

“You’re driving along and you’re at the traffic lights and for no reason whatsoever, the person in question inhabits you and I’ll cry,’” Geldof said while speaking on the Tommy Tiernan Show this weekend.

“And then I’ll look around to make sure the people next door don’t see me or are taking a photo and posting it or something. But that happens and that happens to everyone. And so you say, ‘OK, it’s time to cry now.’”

Bob and Peaches Geldof in July 2009, at Sir David Frost's Annual Summer Garden Party in Chelsea, London.
Bob and Peaches Geldof in July 2009, at Sir David Frost's Annual Summer Garden Party in Chelsea, London.

Geldof continued: “You just do it to the maximum because there’s no use holding it in. Lights are green, or whatever, and then you go. That’ll always be there and you accommodate that.

“Once you understand the nature of this because it is boundless and it is bottomless. The grief and the abyss is infinite.” 

As previously reported by Stylist in our article on grief shaming, blanket comparisons can’t be made for even parallel losses. And, regardless of the type of loss, no one can know the extent of another’s pain and sorrow.

However, while everyone experiences grief in different ways, it’s worth remembering that painful feelings of loss will often return for many of us throughout our lives. Indeed, in 2017, a woman named Lauren Herschel shared the “ball in a box” analogy that her therapist used to help her better understand the enduring nature of grief.

The analogy – which quickly went viral, such was its relatability – suggests that grief is like a box with a ball in it and a pain button on one side.

In the early stages, the ball is big and will frequently hit the pain box – sometimes so much that it can feel like you can’t stop it. As time goes on, however, the ball slowly becomes smaller. With so much more room to bounce around the box, it hits the pain button less often, and each day starts to feel a little easier.

However, the ball doesn’t disappear completely – which means that, sometimes, it will hit the pain button. And, when it does, those feelings of loss will be every bit as intense as ever.

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To quote the experts at Mind UK: “There is no time limit on grief and this varies hugely person to person. The time spent in a period of bereavement will be different for everybody and depends on factors such as the type of relationship, the strength of attachment or intimacy to the person who died, the situation surrounding their death, and the amount of time spent anticipating the death.” 

Grief isn’t a sprinter: it’s a marathon runner. When you feel overwhelmed by feelings of sadness or guilt, allow yourself the chance to acknowledge your feelings. Tell a friend you’re struggling, speak to a therapist, or seek support from others who have been through something similar (Mind UK offers a peer support service). 

Talk about your feelings. Share your memories of your loved one, if you would like to. And remember, there is no timetable to stick to, no rules to follow, no set goals to achieve when you’re grieving. So stop piling pressure on yourself to feel a certain way and just be extra kind to yourself instead. 

For advice on how to practise self-care, check out our article here.

A word on ‘complicated grief’:

It is completely normal to experience feelings of sadness over a bereavement, even after a long time has passed. However, sometimes people experience such strong feelings of grief long after a bereavement happens that a diagnosis of complicated grief is made. These experiences of bereavement can be very similar to ‘simple grief’ except that, rather than becoming manageable in the long-term, they can worsen and affect your day-today-living.

According to Cruse Bereavement Care, symptoms of complicated grief include:

  • Symptoms of grief feel continuous for a long time, and they get harder to cope with over time, rather than gradually easier.
  • Intense and overwhelming feelings of grief are having an impact on your day-to-day living.

Find out more here.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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