‘Memory of Me:’ Derry’s Bronagh Burke launches new podcast exploring grief, loss and hope

Derry woman Bronagh Burke is exploring grief in all its forms in a new podcast that aims to bring healing and hope to others.

By Laura Glenn
Friday, 11th February 2022, 11:04 am
Bronagh Burke, pictured with her children, Aoife and Adam and her mammy, Siobhan Deehan.
Bronagh Burke, pictured with her children, Aoife and Adam and her mammy, Siobhan Deehan.

The mother-of-twins has been on her own ‘grief journey’ for the last seven years, following the sudden deaths of her beloved daddy, and ‘soulmate,’ Thomas, who she affectionately calls Burkey.

On Wednesday, the first episode of her new podcast, ‘Memory Of Me,’ launched across all platforms, including Youtube and will see various people speak of their own journey through grief and hope.

Those involved speak of all types of loss, including that of a parent or child, the devastation of miscarriage and also the pain of separation and divorce, which also leads to mourning.

Bronagh Burke, her late husband Thomas, her mother Siobhan and children Aoife and Adam, pictured when they were babies.

Bronagh was moved to begin the process after being inundated with messages on her Instagram page from people who were ‘crying out for help and asking for advice.’ She had found that sharing her own story and talking to others helped in her own grief and wanted to do the same for others. Bronagh told the Journal how she also wanted to break down the ‘stigma’ of grieving and mental health, as well as showing others how it is ‘ok and nobody should ever feel alone.’

“I wanted to show how there is someone out there with a story similar to yourself and that there are others trying to survive each day too.”

While feelings around loss can be dark and uncomfortable, Bronagh outlined how there are also many moments of ‘humour and laughter, as well as ‘so much love’ in the podcast episodes.

The podcast was also beneficial for Bronagh, who is mammy to five-year-old Adam and Aoife, as she was able to resonate with much of what is discussed.

“I’ve been on this journey through grief for nearly seven years. Obviously, my grief was completely different once I lost Burkey in April 2020, The first year of grief when I lost Burkey was very foggy, very dark and I just felt completely lost. We were in the midst of lockdown and I ended up, as people will know, just taking my phone and recording myself, saying truly how I felt that day -because I was lonely and I had noone else to talk to. We were in the height of a global pandemic and I felt I could reach out and connect to people. Then, my Instagram evolved and I had so many people sending me messages - I still do - and it’s amazing and I love it, as it makes me feel like I’m not alone. And also, that these feelings are normal and these dark times are ok.”

Bronagh continues to receive messages from others who are struggling and in November, had a ‘lightbulb moment.’

“I’ve had so many people constantly messaging, crying out for help and asking for advice and I thought: ‘Why not let people tell their story and show others they are not alone?”

Bronagh disclosed how she had been on a waiting list for trauma therapy since April 2020 and had to find her own way of expressing her feelings through sharing with others on Instagram.

“That was a form of healing for me and when I listen to the others telling their stories, I might not relate to their grief specifically but I relate in some sort of way, as we have both lost - we both know how grief feels and it all comes down to the fact that you are not alone in your feelings,”

Bronagh initially intended to record seven episodes but this has been extended to 12, as so many people want to tell their stories, with each episode being ‘very different’ from the last.

“So far, the seven episodes are so different. There are widows, the loss of a child, loss of parents, loss of a father, the loss of a brother, and separation and divorce, I would say, most messages I get are those dealing with separation and divorce and miscarriage. When I sat down with the person going through the separation and divorce, I was stunned. It’s a living grief. They are grieving the life they thought they were going to have. It’s truly heartbreaking, I also speak to a lady who lost her lost both parents and also had a traumatic miscarriage and she speaks also about the lack of support afterwards. It really opened my eyes.”

Bronagh explained how after recording the episodes she has, at times walked away with her heart ‘heavy,’ but ‘at the same time, I thought that you are inspiring people to come out and show vulnerability and sadness and loss and how there is hope again. These people are truly inspiring and they want to tell their story and honour the person they have lost.”

Bronagh said the podcast also shows the reality of what others are going through and added how the ‘stigma towards grief has to be broken.’

“I’m only a one-woman band, but if someone messaged me and said they got something out of the podcast and it helped, then my work is done.”

She also told how she also wanted the podcast to show there is hope, strength and purpose after such devastating loss.

“If we put the blankets over our head and hid, then what purpose do we have in life? It’s about having hope again and having that inner strength. It took me a really, really long time to try and find that spark again and I’m still working on myself each and every day. But the hope is back again, as I have two children who are relying on me and I want them to see that mammy did her best. Burkey and daddy are always my backbone and the force behind me.”

Bronagh stressed that speaking about grief and loss must become more accepted and added while she knows that sometimes people don’t know what to say, ‘it shouldn’t be put in darkness.’

“I’d like people to listen to the podcast and think, even if they get awkward, that they will listen to someone’s story and hear how they truly feel or reach out to that friend who has had a miscarriage or is going through divorce.”

Bronagh’s first guest on the podcast is her own mammy, Siobhan, who speaks about losing her husband, her son-in-law and also her best friend.

“It took a lot of bravery for her to do it. We call her the unseen guest. If we’re out and about, she’d be the one hiding behind me, so it took a lot of courage for her to speak openly and honestly.

“It was tough, as you’re going back and reliving moments but I think people will walk away feeling that there is hope again. If me and mammy can fight each day with the hits we’d had, then anyone can do it. My mammy is trying to rebuild that hope in her heart again.”

‘Memory Of Me’ is available now on all podcast platforms.