Glitter, Grief & Loss

22 Oct 2020

About Glitter

This week has been a glitter week for me. The first shiny speck appeared, soon to be joined by more sparkly bits, forming a small cluster. Each time I thought I was glitter free, blow me if another bit didn’t appear out of nowhere. It seemed to me that clusters attracted each other and grew, sparkling determinedly.

You may well be imagining that I’ve had a fabulous week - maybe dancing strictly-style or doing wonderful artwork with a young person and lots of glue! The truth is that my friend’s funeral stopped me in my tracks this week…and her funeral, so desperately sad in its own right, triggered lots of thinking about my dad who died recently…and then my thoughts turned to another friend I lost years ago who I really miss…and a much loved colleague…

This is where the glitter comes in. In her fabulous programme “Coaching for Grief, Change and Loss” Kim Morgan, CEO Barefoot Coaching Ltd, describes grief as being like glitter – it just appears when you’re least expecting it, when you think you’ve tidied it all away. Taking this metaphor further, the fact that glitter is long lasting (we know this, sadly, from its environmental impact) and it can get stuck in hard to reach places adds to the complexity of my thinking. I have also pondered on that special, sparkly shine that glitter brings. This seems initially to be counterintuitive when relating glitter to grief or loss and yet has become really important to me in contemplating the idea and connecting to my experience.

My week has been one of such dark and light. I have seesawed between being consumed by a grief that despite feeling too raw for any glitter-related shine, still managed to bring the odd precious memory sparkle; to noticing a sort of tucked away and quite precious historic sadness that peeped out to remind me it has become part of who I am, actually enriching me in the process.

When we think of grief, it helps to understand that as well as being caused by a bereavement, grief may be caused by a change, or a loss. You may feel like you’ve dealt with your grief - or even that it isn’t really a thing to deal with at all- only for it to pop up and seize your attention, grabbing a chunk of your emotional resource.


What grief might be bringing glitter moments for you right now?

  • Maybe you’re a parent who has recently waved your young adult off to Uni…or your little one off to school.
  • You may have lost someone or something that you love.
  • Your world at home or at work may feel totally unrecognisable to you because of world events.

Don’t be surprised though, that even good changes cause grief – and can therefore bring out glitter!

  • Perhaps you have just got that amazing promotion or job change you’ve been wanting
  • Maybe you’ve moved house
  • Or it could be that you’ve just started a family


With each change or loss there comes a necessary period of adjusting your thinking to recognise just what it is that you are leaving behind and what you are moving toward. That process- grieving and noticing how that grief is finding its way into your being feels really fundamental to me. Consider for example:

  • How and where do you feel your loss?
  • Is there a smell or a sensation, an image, object or action that gives you pause to think…or awakens your pain?
  • How do you respond?

Becoming familiar with the physical sense of the loss you carry in order to help you to begin to take its weight forward with you may just help you to adjust and your feelings to evolve.


More thoughts on Glitter

Glitter doesn’t discriminate – there is no judgement about whether your grief is ‘enough’ to deserve a twinkle. It is your grief to own. No-one else’s. No one else knows how you experience it and no one should belittle or try to own it. Your glitter twinkles at will.

As you ponder the work environment no longer there, or the suddenly quiet home you inhabit, there is no need to dismiss your emotions - go with them and let them just be.

As you seize the opportunity that takes you away from the familiar or the comfortable, do not feel guilt for your sadness.

And as you learn to live with the empty space or void in your life, trust that your grief will evolve.

Glitter doesn’t understand the passage of time- in fact it flies in its face. Trust that your past grief will be quietly there and find a way to be noticed – perhaps even subtly, with the odd shine to let you know it’s still there and still part of the person you now are. In this way glitter ensures that we retain our past experiences and grow with and through our losses.

I have come to look for my glitter moments in nature. Tiny snippets of light and wonder. Leaves snowing down golden light, whirling and spinning, or just hanging mid-air, blown by in the autumn winds; vivid stars winking in the deepest blue sky; playful sun properly and vivaciously sparking on water…


So, what could you do with your glitter?

Well let me tell you what I’ve decided to do with mine-it may help you; I have a good old look at it. I’ve made it part of my present, my here and now. I talk, I share what I’m thinking or what I’ve noticed, or the memory that’s landed- or simply how I’m feeling. This feels like I’ve created a sort of emotional bridge linking me to my loss. The sun shining on the butterflies in my garden this week (dad loved butterflies) made me smile – and I felt he was somehow with me in this thought. I’m still sad and I understand that being sad is ok. And despite the fact that when in the grip of my grief words of solace actually offer me none, I also understand that this sadness will change over time.

Sometimes it seems that grief seizes you hard, taking you by its own unique storm; quietly forceful… or vigorously roaring or something else altogether. And when your grief is raw and raging and it has you in its grip, it’s hard to imagine that your feelings will evolve or that that there will be light and shade for you again-even sparkly bits.

This is what’s so clever about glitter – as well as surprising you by popping up, and sometimes seizing you hard - it’s amazingly resilient-and it does indeed find a way, in time, to shine for you.

If you would like support with grief or loss, or in coming to terms with uncertainty and change, you may find that working with a qualified coach or counsellor helps. You are also able to access support through:


Di West

I came into coaching following 30 years as a teacher, senior leader and headteacher. I have worked in often challenging circumstances and with diverse groups. My knowledge and understanding of how people learn, building sustainable leadership, organisational change and strategic thinking from my first career has led me to leap into coaching and feel absolutely home. I have rapidly achieved accredited coach status (ACC) with the ICF and commenced training to become a Mental Fitness coach as well as launching a number of successful group coaching programmes. To date, my work in the not for profit sector, with educators and health professionals has led me to focus particularly on those deeply embedded values we all hold and their interplay with our purpose and therefore our actions. Gaining perspective, finding the confidence to make positive changes or take decisive actions being powered by re-focusing a strong sense of purpose, aligned with our values.

I like to bring light and laughter into my coaching – to think creatively and follow my intuition with an absolute focus on championing those I work with.

As a Mental Fitness coach, I am also able to offer you the opportunity to identify unhelpful thinking patterns and build the capacity for sustainable growth and personal development through the PQ Programme, designed to help you to build your Positive Intelligence Quotient. Research has shown PQ to be the best predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform relative to your potential.