What is hope?

Hope is finding the strength to get out of bed on a Monday morning to face the week ahead. Hope is being a point down in the final with only 5 minutes to go. Hope is walking into an exam with the feeling that you haven't revised enough.

The definition for hope is - "a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen." Everyday, whether we are aware of it or not each one of us are hopeful for something. Whether it is something small like hoping it doesn't rain or whether it is something huge like hoping the test results come back clear. Hope is the driving force that keeps us going, having hope is so important. Having hope in something keeps us focused and determined on our journey's throughout life, hope helps us fight the battles life may throw at us and helps us stay positive and optimistic.

If you're ever feeling down and feel that you have no hope left, think of these 4 words. This is how hope can make you feel:

H - Happiness

O - Optimistic

P - Peaceful

E - Excited

Let us know what hope means to you! We would love to hear from you!

Jane, HopeAgain Web Consultant.

Coping throughout the year.

Every year there are always a number of special events like birthdays, anniversaries, sports finals, weddings etc. Celebrating these milestones without a loved one can make these special days, which were once a very happy and exciting time, sad and the feeling of dread lingers over you as you approach them. As the new year is in full swing, try to think of these days as a chapter of your adventure through life. Take your loved one on the journey with you and let them guide you through it. By thinking like this, it will help you to look forward to these events and not dread them. 

By enjoying yourself you are not forgetting the person, you are simply remembering them in a different way and you should not feel guilty for enjoying yourself! 

Coping at Christmas

After losing a loved one, any time of the year can be tough but in particular Christmas is when some people find it the hardest to cope. Some people mightn’t want to celebrate Christmas at all! However, there are many positive ways to get through the festive period.

Many families carry traditions at Christmas time, as me and Victoria talked about in our latest vlog “Coping at Christmas,” but if it is too painful to carry on these traditions, put them to the side and create a new one. In doing this, it does not mean you are forgetting about that person, you are just remembering them in a new and different way. Maybe as time passes you may be able to return to the old ways and do things that you and that loved one would have done during this time of year.

Whether you want to get the family involved or you want to take a bit of time to yourself, a nice way to remember a loved one is making decorations dedicated to them. All you need is a few plain Christmas baubles, some paint, glitter, felt tips etc. and decorate your own bauble for the person and place it on your tree. This way that person can be a part of your Christmas celebrations every year. Another creative way of remembering people at Christmas time is decorating a candle. In the same way as the bauble decorate a plain candle dedicating it to that person/people and place it in the middle of the table, where everyone will be gathered and light it during your Christmas dinner. This way you may feel a comfort that the person is there with you, after the dinner it may be a nice idea, while the candle is still lit, to talk about the happy and funny memories you had with that person. Focus on the good, happy memories rather than the sad memories or regrets.

Christmas can be a lonely time for many people, especially if you’ve lost a loved one. No matter how long ago the person has died, everyday can still be tough. Grief has no timeline and no one should tell you that you “should be over it now” or “it happened ages ago, you should be okay.” For some people every day can be a struggle and Christmas is no exception. The most important thing for you to know is that you are never alone! There is always someone to lend a helping hand. If someone offers you help during the festive period – accept it – try not to isolate yourself, this will not help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People will not see you as weak – they will commend you for your bravery and strength.

If you have ideas of things to do at Christmas time to remember your loved one, why not respond to this blog and share your own ideas by leaving a comment below.

Happy Christmas!

Jane Molloy, HopeAgain Web Consultant

You're Not Alone

From the 16th-22nd of November is Children's Grief Awareness Week. Although 1 in 29 school children in the UK have lost a parent or sibling, grief is still often seen as a taboo subject. Feeling unable to talk about your bereavement can be very isolating.  When grief crashes down on you and fills you with old, new and unwanted emotions it can feel like no-one is there, no-one could ever understand what you're going through.  But from my time at Cruse I've learnt that, although no two people feel loss the same way, they can always find a common ground through their experiences.  They more often than not come away thinking "I never thought I would meet someone who understood me." 

Bottling up emotions, especially the strong emotions we feel after a loss, can deepen the feeling of isolation.  But it's alright to talk about it.  Sometimes finding a safe place to talk can be difficult and it's hard to trust someone and open up to them.  At Cruse we can provide that safe place, whether it's sending your story, creating a vlog or contacting us about talking to one of our trained volunteers. 

As a child or young person it can be hard to reach out and talk, but Cruse is there to help no matter what stage of your journey you are in.  And the good thing is, when you come to HopeAgain with your story or questions, you know you are being heard and responded to by other young people who know what it's like to walk through grief.

So let's use Grief Awareness Week to remind young people all over the world: "You are never alone."

Bridget Molloy, HopeAgain Consultant

How are you?

A question we hear at least three times a day, and often we respond with quite a blasé answer. How many times have you heard, ‘How are you?’ and you’ve automatically responded, ‘Good thanks, and you?’ without even contemplating it?

We’ve become so desensitised to that question that we no longer actually talk about how we’re feeling. I always respond that I’m doing grand, but if I actually responded with a hint of truth my answer would be more along the lines of: ‘I’m stressed, tired, and on the verge of a mental breakdown. I’ve got a pile of work to do and no idea what’s going on. People keep asking me what I want to do after uni and I have NO idea. I just want to sleep for a week. But how are you?’ 

That answer is probably a bit much to handle in everyday conversation, especially if you’re stuck in a social situation you’d rather not be in so you give the shortest answer possible to get the interaction over and done with. But when you think about it, how many times are you asked that question and you are never honest? 

Everybody needs to become more comfortable with talking about how they’re feeling. It shouldn’t be such a taboo to talk about your mental health, and you shouldn’t feel anxious about telling someone if you’re not doing so well. If you’re struggling with something, tell someone. If you feel down, tell someone. If you are always stressed, tell someone. If you’re incredibly happy, tell someone!

It should be more common for everybody to honestly talk about how they’re feeling, and it shouldn’t be frowned upon. If someone comes to you with their problems, take the time to listen to them, it doesn’t matter if you have no solution, sometimes just a pair of ears and a shoulder to cry on is all we need.