Grief Must Be Felt: Chaplain Kath Henry - Hope 103.2

Grief Must Be Felt: Chaplain Kath Henry

Kath's inspiration for 'Notes on Grieving' came in the form of a friend she was supporting, who said she should share her learnings.

By Georgia FreeTuesday 1 Aug 2023Hope DriveLifeReading Time: 3 minutes

Grief is a road well-travelled for many and yet, it can feel like the loneliest journey in the world. Kath Henry has written Notes on Grieving, an interactive memoir designed to help people feel less alone as they grieve or as they support a loved one through the journey.

Kath has worked as an ICU nurse, midwife, pastor, chaplain and leadership mentor – and she generously shares her own experiences within the pages, as well as her advice for supporting others in their grief.

Inspiration for the book

Kath’s inspiration for the book came in the form of a friend she was supporting through grief, who encouraged her to share what she’d learnt with the world.

“People really don’t know how to grieve,” Kath told Hope Drive.

“Grief isn’t something that we get over.

“When we experience pain, we have learned to think of it as abnormal, whereas grief is a sign that we love someone deeply.

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“It’s a normal part of life and I hope that people will learn to acknowledge that love and move with grief as it comes rather than push it away.”

“Grief isn’t something that we get over.”

More than a memoir

The book is divided into different sections, each focusing on a different experience of Kath’s, including nursing patients through grief, dealing with grieving children and walking with friends through grief.

At the end of each chapter is a series of questions where Kath encourages you to think about your own journey.

“I wanted this book to read like a journal, where people could also reflect on their own experiences of grieving,” Kath said.

Chaplain and author Kath Henry with husband Phil

Source: Supplied / Chaplain and author Kath Henry with husband Phil

Grief as a child

Kath’s earliest experience of grief occurred during her childhood in country NSW, when she came across dead cattle in a riverbed while on a walk with her dad.

“It was in the middle of a terrible drought, and they had died there trying to find the last bit of water,” Kath said.

“I remember the shock of it, but I also remember my dad holding my hand and being able to ask him questions.

“[I knew] that he wasn’t frightened by grief or death, and it wasn’t something that I had to push away from.

“That’s really helped me as I’ve journeyed with others through grief.”

Rhythms instead of stages of grief

For those grieving, or supporting others through grief, Kath has some simple advice: feel it.

“Grief becomes a part of who you are and can transform you in really gentle ways,” Kath said.

“We learnt many years ago about the stages of grief, but I think grief stages are better seen as rhythms, that return in different seasons.

“Instead of seeing each stage as something we need to get over, emotions might come back at certain points during our grieving.”

Listen to Kath’s full interview on Hope Drive in the player above.