Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

A fundamental human right for First Nations people.

Meet Rosemary Wanganeen

Transforming Aboriginal disadvantage into Aboriginal prosperity.

Aboriginal Suicide Prevention

Through the Lens of Griefology

Presented by: Rosemary Wanganeen
November 7th – 9th 2023
Adelaide, SA

With my personal hat on and as an Aboriginal community member, it’s with a heavy heart I acknowledge the loss to those who went to the polls inspired and with hope! We all knew there could only be one ‘winner’ and one ‘loser’ and sadly it’s the ‘yes’ camp that lost at the polls to have a First Nations advisory body to the government and to be recognised in the Australian constitution.

Such loss will now give rise to the onset of grief emotions and for some, the grief emotions will be short term and for others it could ‘drift aimlessly’ into long term, if misunderstood.  Similarly, the grief could and will permeate your life, your family, friends, colleagues and not to mention, national organisations.

Below I’ve outlined and adapted the 8 common grief emotions I work with that you could or will experience:

8 Common Grief Emotions
Grief Shock: surprise; disbelief; shock; horrified; feeling numb – as if your spirit has ‘split’ from your body.
Emotional Release: Crying – Daily; Weekly; Fortnightly; Monthly: shed a few tears; whimper; snivel; crying; weeping; sobbing, howling; wailing.
Grief Depression:  Sadness; miserable; unhappy; suicidal thoughts; self-harm; attempted suicide; completed suicide.
Grief (Physical) Illnesses: mild illness; mild aches & pain.  What are some symptoms?
Grief Panic: fright; dread; scared; terrified; alarmed; panic; terror; feeling of wanting to run away; literally run away.
Grief Guilt: ‘if only’; imaged guilt; feeling shame; blame self/others; remorse; real guilt; guilty conscious; culpability.
Grief Apathy: ‘feeling slack’; pattern of sickness; lack energy; tired; lack concern; lack of interest; weariness; exhausted; apathetic; don’t care; may neglect family, friends, colleagues, workplace.
Grief Anger: irritable; passive aggressive; nastiness; aggressive; spitefulness; holding grudges; angry; malice; rage; violent.



If you can recognise some or all these grief emotions and are feeling them, please know it is your basic human right to feel them and collectively they have a name.  Please know, there is nothing wrong with you, your family, friends, colleagues, your Mob (people), you are only grieving for the loss of your dreams, hope and expectations of what could have been, if the ‘yes’ vote had of been successful.


Now that you can name your grief emotions, you can process them, by applying some or all of the following 5 reflective and creative grief activities, which I strongly encourage. When grief emotions are not processed in a safe and healthy way, I often use the metaphor; it’ll be entering a rabbit warren and getting stuck.  The 5 are as follows:

  • Write about your grief: could be journalling; a song/poem.
  • Talk about your grief: professional counsellor/your EAP provider.
  • Use your physical body to process grief: regular walking before, during, and after work/bush walking/gym/ beach.
  • Connect to ancestors: if possible, out on country/talk to them
  • Read books: of your choosing.

With the above said, please be very conscious of talking about your grief emotions too often to people as this could burden both parties, now that you can name, not just your grief emotions but theirs.  If you’re not ready to talk about the result and how you feel about it, let people know – ask for time and space to process your grief – they will understand.  Take care everyone, the best way you know how.  My thoughts are with you all.

Rosemary Wanganeen

Griefologist – Clinical Loss & Grief Counsellor-General Public & EAP provider; Facilitator; Program Designer; Assessor; Public Speaker; Consultant for research projects etc.

Aboriginal Suicide Prevention

Through the Lens of Griefology

Presented by: Rosemary Wanganeen
November 7th – 9th 2023
Adelaide, SA