13 Reasons Why

When I first started seeing Facebook posts with #WelcomeToYourTape written on it, I wasn't that interested. That was until I learned the meaning of the hashtag. When I found out there was a new popular Netflix show centred on teen suicide and mental health issues, I felt obliged to watch it.

And that I did, in about 3 days. Once I started the first episode, the story gripped me, and I couldn't stop. For anybody who hasn't seen it, the show follows Clay, a high schooler whose classmate, Hannah, takes her own life. She leaves behind thirteen tapes, each of which explains the wrongdoings of fellow classmates that led to her suicide. When I first watched it, I found it a bit sinister that she would leave a tape to each person, basically saying 'this is why you made me kill myself', but the more I watched the more I realised this wasn't her intention at all. Well, at least not in my opinion, but it is open to interpretation. 

A lot of things happened to Hannah Baker to lead her to such drastic measures. She was bullied, she was objectified, she witnessed her friend's sexual assault, she was sexually assaulted, and she felt nobody was listening to her cries for help. I believe the main purpose of her tapes wasn't to burden her friends, but to show them how little things can build up and easily spiral out of control. You don't realise the impact a photo or a list can have on someone's life, so always be kind. You don't know what silent battles people are fighting.

The show had a lot of controversy surrounding the explicit scenes. People scorned the show for 'romanticizing' suicide. I think it did the complete opposite. It showed just how dark depression can be, and just how ugly suicide is. It shows the aftermath, the parents left totally bereft, not understanding what could have made their beautiful daughter want to leave this world. It shows how suicide doesn't solve anything, it just passes the pain on to everybody around you.

It shows that it should never be an option.

As wonderful as the show was for raising awareness for teenage suicide and mental health, I wouldn't recommend it to anybody feeling vulnerable. I found some scenes difficult to watch, and they could impact people struggling in the wrong way. 

If you have been affected by the show, you can get support here. If you are from outside the UK you can find your local support here: 

www.13reasonswhy.info

A New Experience

I remember the first ever Cruse youth event I went to, all the way back in 2009. I was young, shy, and completely unaware of how Cruse would impact my life. Fast forward to 12th April 2017, and there I am setting up the recording equipment in the office for another event, 4 hours before anybody is due to arrive. 

Never in a million years did I ever imagine that one day I would be the person orchestrating an event, never mind one for a group of bereaved young people. I can say without a doubt, Cruse has saved me since losing my Dad, in more ways than one. 

As someone who is naturally very introverted, the thought of organising and running an event terrified me, having all eyes on me whilst explaining the day's events was my idea of a nightmare. But up I got, standing awkwardly at the front, giving everybody an idea of why they were there. 

The day was organised to bring together young bereaved people, letting them get to know one another and share experiences, but also to help with our new 'Vlog Pod' page. The aim was to gather more content, and let everybody that was willing record a vlog of their own choice. 

Despite the stress and slight anxiety of having to run the day, it was humbling to see so many young people who've been through so much stand up and record themselves talking about such a hard time in their lives. Major kudos to them, it's definitely not something I would've done back when I first joined. Watching other young people do this definitely gives me more confidence and strength in my work, and lets me know I'm never alone in my grief. 

You can check out our Vlog Pod page, and send us your own vlog to help someone out there who is struggling. All it takes is one little video to let someone know there's always Hope.

-Victoria

Missing Mum on Mothers Day

Mother’s Day always creeps up on me. Unlike birthdays or anniversaries, I never remember Mother’s Day until it’s here. Suddenly, I’m surrounded by the reminder that unfortunately, my mother is no longer here to celebrate. It’s not a holiday I actively dread, I no longer feel the need to avoid it and seeing the cards and flowers and ads doesn’t bother me like it used to. My family and I decided a few years ago that we would stop mourning my Mum’s death and instead, celebrate the life she led and the happiness she brought to us when we had her. 

It will be 10 years this year since she passed and I still think about her, practically every day. Now, however, I can remember her with a smile. I’m reminded on Mother’s Day that I am lucky enough to still have my father, a strong, brave, and selfless man who raised me and my siblings alone through the hardest years of our lives. I remember I have siblings who make me laugh until I cry and have taught me patience, a great deal of patience! I think of all the amazing, strong women in my life who have let me cry and share and laugh with them.  

No-one can replace my mother, I wish I could know her today and get to know her better now I’m grown. But the best way to celebrate Mother’s Day is not by grieving, but by living. –Living like she did with a mad sense of adventure, never being afraid of who you are or what you want in life and above all, being a great woman—something I can strive to be one day.  

Bridget

Mum's Last Wish

The documentary, 'Mum's Last Wish' follows the inspiring story of Shanti and Kalvin, two young people who sadly lost their loving mum, Seema, to cancer in 2015. 

Despite the horrible situation that Seema had been placed in, she focused on being positive and making the best of what time she had left. She began recording vlogs of her journey, and gained a large following online. 

If I don't make it and I'm gone before my time, don't be sad 'cause I'm happy and I live whilst I'm alive -Seema

Seema decided to form a list of tasks she wanted Shanti and Kalvin to complete after she was gone. This gave them purpose after losing their mum, they wanted to complete them to make her proud. These tasks were a challenge, but it helped them keep the spirit of their beloved mum alive, and allowed them to focus on the future. Shanti took her first swimming lesson and learnt more about cancer, whilst Kalvin learnt to drive and applied for university. 

The documentary shows a different side of bereavement, it's not always about pain and suffering. Shanti was glad her mum was no longer suffering and in pain, and this gave her comfort in the loss. It's important to put yourself first, and it is okay to be sad and angry too. 

Kalvin hoped his mum would be proud of him and what he'd done. Shanti and Kalvin both know their mum is always with them in spirit, and they'll be okay.

It's time for a new adventure -Kalvin

You can watch the documentary here: Mum's Last Wish

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls tells the story of a young boy, Conor, whose devoted mother is terminally ill. He is struggling to come to terms with the inevitable loss, all the while dealing with an overbearing grandmother, an estranged father, and cruel playground bullies. 

If you haven't suffered a bereavement, sometimes you can be tricked into thinking people only have to deal with the loss itself. This film shows the reality of grief, and how you can be juggling everything in your life, especially when only a child. You can be forced to grow up too quickly, worry about things that are beyond your years, and take on the role as head of house. The story tells of, "a boy too old to be a kid, too young to be a man"

To be honest, this film was heart-wrenching to watch, and painful if you have ever suffered a bereavement yourself. It can drag up feelings you thought had been buried deep and you wouldn't have to face again. As upsetting as the film is, it's important to watch to understand the child's perspective in a bereavement. You need to put them first and listen to their needs. You can't assume what's best for them as they only know this themselves. In the film, the father tells Conor, "I'm sorry you have to face this, but you have to be brave". No thirteen year old boy should be told they have to be brave when they're losing the only parent who is there for them. Nobody should be told they have to suck it up and get on with it. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to scream, then scream. And if you need to break things, then break them. 

Everybody copes with bereavement in their own way, and you can't tell someone how to deal with it. The mother was the only person who understood how he felt, and she was the person he was losing. He didn't want her to go, but he wanted the pain and the suffering to be over, which is okay. You're not a bad person for wanting a bad situation to be over, it just means you're human. The mother told Conor, "It's okay that you're angry, I'm angry too", and it really is okay to be angry. 

Where does the monster come in? He visits Conor and tells him three tales, and at first Conor fails to see the point in any of it. It soon shows that the monster is here to help Conor through all the pain of losing his mum, and allows him to accept that she is gone. 

The film was beautifully made, and gut-wrenchingly effective. If more people watched this film, then young people would be a lot more understood when facing a bereavement.

"Of course you are afraid, but you will make it through."