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?

Remembering at Christmas

Everyone has Christmas traditions, new and old. My favourite tradition in our family is our Christmas decorations. My siblings and I get a new one every year on Christmas Eve and now I have 22, one for every year of my life. 

Christmas 2006 was our last Christmas together with my Mum.  We kept by all our traditions of the day and tried to enjoy it as best we could. We all knew she wouldn’t be with us next year. Organised as ever, my Mum had bought decorations for us for next Christmas, letting us choose our favourite and wrapping them up to be opened in 12 months.

December 2007 came, and decorating the tree made me finally realise that my Mum wouldn’t be coming back for Christmas.  The day was very emotional and there wasn’t the usual festive cheer.  On Christmas Eve Dad brought out our ornaments and there they were with Mum’s writing on them for each of us: “To Bridget, love Mum”.  It hurt so much to know that was the last physical encounter I would have with her.

Eight years on, I think my family has reclaimed Christmas.  I am thankful every year for what I still have, and all the decorations my Mum bought me over the years have their own meaning and memories.  

I’ve been grateful over the last 8 years that we held onto those customs that my Mum enjoyed. We carry them on now, not only as her traditions but as ours, and it’s one way that we can remember her at Christmas with a smile on our faces.

What about you?  Will you write and tell us something about your own family’s favourite Christmas traditions?

Grief and emotions

When I first lost my little brother the first feeling I felt was complete denial. Aaron was just one and a half, his death was sudden and nothing could have prepared me for it. I refused to believe what was happening, when my dad told me I repeated “this isn’t real, this isn’t real”. Sadly, it was real and as I went to say goodbye and all I could feel was devastation and loss.

As the days passed after Aaron’s death I must have felt every emotion under the sun, I could feel frustration, anger, emptiness, exhaustion, but also I reflected on the thousands of memories I had with Aaron and I felt grateful, joyful, appreciative and on a few occasions I even laughed remembering silly moments we shared, simple memories like when he began to recognise his reflection in the mirror, he would smile and laugh at himself and at me.

Just over a year later, when I think about Aaron’s death, sometimes I feel alone, sometimes it makes me feel defeated, sometimes it makes me grumpy and impatient, sometimes I’m angry and frustrated, sometimes confused. Every day I’m heartbroken and everyday I’m grateful I had the pleasure of having such a brave, bubbly little brother who made such an impact on so many lives in his short life.

I guess the message I am trying to convey is that there is no right or wrong emotions to feel with grief. It is acceptable to feel whatever you feel when experiencing grief for a loved one. I think when people think of grief they automatically think of sadness and loss, but as I and so many others have realised that grief is much more than this. Do not feel that you are not grieving the “right” way because there is no right way! Please remember you are not alone with your grief, do not be afraid to speak up because so many of us understand and know exactly how you are feeling.

What did you do to help deal with your emotions after loss?

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Back To School

We all know how difficult it can be returning to school or university after a long summer off, but it’s even harder when someone you love has died.

I lost my Dad when I was 14 on the first day of my Christmas holidays from school. I was made to go straight back to school after the holidays were over. I was terrified, but they thought it was best I went back with everyone else to help me blend in with all the other pupils.

My Mum spoke to my Head of Year about helping me through the return, and she checked on me in class every so often to see how I was holding up. I was allowed to leave class if I felt it was too much, and it was a huge comfort knowing I wasn’t trapped.

What have you done to help overcome the fear of returning to education after losing a loved one?  

Post any ideas or hints in the comment section!