loss

University: Will I be the only one?

Going to university evokes a lot of mixed emotions for young people; nervousness, excitement, apprehension, to name but a few. But how does it feel going to university after a loss?

I remember the anticipation in the car journey when moving to university; what will my room be like, will I get on with my flatmates, will I be the only one?

I remember almost having a feeling of embarrassment, as well as worry, about being the only person moving into accommodation with one parent. I felt like it defined me, and I didn't want to be labelled as 'the girl whose dad died'. I had already gone through this in school, and I felt uni was a chance to start a fresh chapter of my life. 

It was a dull pain, watching so many people moving in with the help of both their parents. I couldn't help but wonder how my dad would feel about me heading to university, if he'd be proud or concerned, or just be glad of some peace and quiet? Who knows. 

I also remember the panic of meeting all my flatmates and them asking about my parents, to which the only response I could muster was, "Oh, it's just me and my mum." I couldn't physically get the words out that my dad had passed away, but I realised that's okay. You shouldn't feel ashamed of your story, and you don't have to share it if you don't want to. After a while I got more comfortable and a lot of people started telling me about their parents' divorce, or whatever their family issue was. It was a comfort to know I wasn't as much of an outcast as I had thought. Nobody's life is perfect, and we all have our demons.

You should never worry about being different, because the world would be an awfully boring place if we were all the same. 

Summer Holiday

One of the greatest things about being off school is that family summer holiday away to somewhere sunny and exotic. However, when you've lost a loved one that trip can be a totally different experience.

Your first holiday after a bereavement can be very bittersweet. You can feel guilty for being excited, or you can just be altogether dreading it. Either way, making new traditions and enjoying the trip can make it a happier experience, but you can still remember the happy memories of your past holidays with your loved one.

When my Mum and I went on our first trip after the loss of my Dad, it was very difficult for the both of us. Everything from checking the house was safe to organising transport; it was all on my Mum. She coped so well, despite how hard it was for her. We tried new things and went somewhere different, so we could keep our old memories but make our own new ones too.

Whether you've been on a holiday this summer, or are planning to go on one soon, what do you think can make a holiday easier after losing a loved one?

Father's Day

Every year I see my friends preparing for Father's Day, searching for the perfect present and rummaging the shelves for a card he'll love. Every year I get the same overwhelming sense of nostalgia and loss, missing the days where I was also hunting for that perfect gift. 

Every year I try to avoid the whole ordeal, but with modern advertising, be it TV, email, or just the local supermarket, the subject is impossible to avoid. Waking up to six new emails, "Just in time for Father's Day!", or "Your #1 Guy: Rad gifts for Dad!", means you just can't escape it. 

It's always painful being reminded of things you want to forget, especially when it's something you're supposed to be celebrating. My advice is: don't let it consume you. Talk to your friends, family, or even your pet, about how you're feeling. You don't have to hide how you're feeling, and you can try to remember your Dad and still celebrate the time you did have together.

What line would you write for your Dad in a Father's Day Card? 

Talia's Story; Part 2

I felt really lucky to have found people who understand me and are my age and I thought that everyone who’s been through such a tough time should feel the same. Nobody should feel like they’re going through it on their own. It’s taken me 3 years and the grieving still isn’t over, but I came to a personal milestone where I felt ready to talk about what I had been through publicly.

I decided to make YouTube videos, discussing various topics around going through bereavement as a teenager, with my main goal being reassuring people that they aren't the only one who’s been through it. I talk about emotions, the funeral, what I like doing when I feel down and more. It feels good to get it off my chest AND help others… WIN WIN!

The way society is today makes people shy away from talking about death and I think it’s definitely time that changed. I think it’s so important that teens and young people reach out and support each other through the rough time none of us deserve. Which is why I hope my videos will help encourage people to speak out and live their life to the full instead of bottling up their emotions. 

 

What do you think schools could do to make things easier for bereaved young people?

Talia's Story; Part 1

My name is Talia, I am 19 years old and I lost my dad when I was 16. I live with my Mum and 9 year old sister. My Dad’s death was really unexpected and I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I was in the middle of my GCSE’s at the time and with loss, school and general 16 year old problems I felt like my head was going to explode! I was offered help from school pastoral care but I felt like I was being talked at like I was a frail china doll, like they thought I was about to break or burst into tears any time they mentioned the word ‘Dad’. I know all the people helping me meant well, but being a teenager; it’s hard to believe adults at a time like that.

I felt like I was the only person in the world going through what I was going through. In school I felt like I stuck out as ‘the girl who’s Dad died’ and people looked at me differently. People also found it hard to talk to me and changed the subject if I ever started talking about my dad. I guess they were scared of saying the wrong thing. But I soon realised that people just cared about me a lot and wanted to be sure I was okay.

My mum found a support group for families like mine and I was so shocked at the amount of people that were a part of it. There were more people who had been through the same thing as me! We were invited on a group camping trip with the support group and I met teenagers of the families who were the same age as me. It felt amazing to finally have someone to speak to who fully gets it; I didn’t think such people existed! We could relate to each other about losing someone and other teenage things, such a connection felt incredible; one minute we’d be discussing if we viewed our parents body, the next we’d be talking about our favourite make-up, and that was TOTALLY NORMAL!

Part 2 coming soon!

Here is a link to Talia's blogs on 'The Teen Bereavement Project', a fantastic set of videos describing different aspects of grief and bereavement when you're a teenager.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqxKxFC_f9Y

 

What helped you feel less alone when you lost somebody?