New Year

We were all bombarded by the media telling us how bad 2016 was for various different reasons, celebrity deaths being one of them. With the beginning of 2017 comes the resolutions, a time for change, "New Year, New Me" etc, but this can be daunting when you're also facing another issue; The loss of a loved one.

For many people, the new year is an opportunity to start fresh and begin writing on their blank 365 page book. For many other people, it's a terrifying thought of the unknown, a brand new year to face alone without the person they've lost. The new year can be very painful if you've been bereaved, especially if it's recent. 

I lost my Dad just two weeks before New Year's Day, and it made the holiday a lot more bittersweet. Everybody I knew was partying, celebrating the chance for a new start, but for me it just seemed like a burden. Why should I be happy and look forward to a year without my Dad? It didn't seem worth celebrating to me. So I stayed inside and slept through it, blissfully unaware.

If you're facing the New Year without someone you love, then remember it's okay to not want to celebrate with friends or family. It's okay to put yourself first and do whatever you're comfortable with. Don't feel obliged to start changing yourself just because everybody else has a huge list of resolutions, you can take the year to rest and deal with your grieving process.

Take care of yourself, and take the year one day at a time. 

#MakeTime2Listen

Children’s Grief Awareness Week runs from November 17th to 23rd, and it’s important to know why this matters.

1 in 29 school age children have lost a parent or sibling, and that’s a pretty big number. When a child or young person loses somebody so close to them, they tend to grow up a lot faster than normal, and try to protect their remaining family. Children who have been bereaved tend not to share their problems or worries with family or friends, and this isn’t good. When you have been bereaved you can feel isolated, and carrying all your troubles alone can make this feeling even worse.

When I lost my Dad I didn’t talk about it for years, especially to my family. I didn’t realise at the time that this was making my grieving process longer and more difficult to cope with. I didn’t want to upset my Mum more, so I thought avoiding the subject and not talking about how I felt would help protect her. It was around 6 years after I lost my Dad before my Mum and I finally talked about it properly, and this seemed to lift the burden so much. You’re not protecting anyone by keeping your worries to yourself, you’re only hurting yourself, and letting everybody else think you’re coping when you could really need help.

It’s important to talk to an adult about your loss so you understand what has happened, and you’re not being left in the dark as this can make it even harder to cope with.

It’s important to listen to young people as this can help them grieve and feel less alone, and it also lets them know it’s completely okay to not be okay.

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? 

Patrick's video

When children are bereaved, more often than not they're thrown into an unfamiliar environment and lack the skills to cope with a dire change of circumstances. This is one of the many reasons I believe in the absolute importance of profiling bereavement amongst children.

Adults, often have the best of intentions in their attempts to help ease a child's pain when it comes to bereavement, but quite simply sometimes they just plain don't understand. What appears right to them might not be quite seen that way through the eyes of a child, I myself experienced this on multiple occasions. As a result, the affected young people become misheard, misunderstood, burdened and ignored, resulting in any number of problems down the line. The issues surrounding childhood bereavement therefore must be documented and made known to the outside world so that a wider audience grasps a better understanding of the 'do's and don'ts' etc...

It was a privilege to be part of a short video production this year based on the work that Cruse and Hope Again do for young people, and it is my hope that it will reach as many individuals as possible and raise maximum awareness of an often underplayed and misunderstood issue.

Patrick

 

To check out Patrick's video, follow this link: www.hopeagain.org.uk/hope-again-videos/