Death is never easy and not really something that can truly be explained. We just have to know that it is something that happens to everyone at some point. But when it arrives for a loved one grief takes over and can be a very confusing time. Some many questions – Why them? Why now? Why not someone else? Could it have been prevented? Did it hurt? What happens to them now? Can they still hear? Is there such a thing as heaven? Anger, despair, disappointment, guilt, betrayal.
Now imagine how that must feel for a child, who has not developed the cognitive skills to work through it. Who possibly blames themselves, or feels that it was their fault, or even that is was their fault. Personally I had to deal with death a lot as a child with little or no support. I STILL remember crying hysterically in the back of a car at almost 3 years old being told to be quiet, feeling like I was going to choke as a stifled the sobs. You see death is just something you have to “get over and move on,” I have always been told. I am now 37 and still suffer. My big brother was only 6 year old and it is still not something I can get my head around. I am old enough now to think it was just one of those things; unfortunate timing. But I grew up thinking that my parents wished it was me. They spoke so fondly of him, put him on a pedestal. My sibling jealously then just made me feel even worse – because what kind of evil monster is jealous of a boy who has lost his life?! I think this has then impact on my feelings towards myself and added to my feeling of unlikability.
My parents, who would normally explain things did not have the words, they were grieving themselves. They did not understand who I felt and I did not talk about it as I did not want to upset them further. Everyone knows that no mother should lose a child – but no child should lose a parent either: every day more than 100 children in the UK are bereaved of a parent. That’s why Cheltenham based charity Winston’s Wish help support children to make sense of death and rebuild their lives. They offer a range of practical support and guidance – including professional therapy (individually, in groups and residential settings), a national helpline, interactive website and publications. You can find out more on their website: WinstonsWish.org.
Yesterday I went along with my family (unfortunately minus my oldest who had training at work) to help support Winston Wish with their fundraising event which involved trying to break the record for the Ice Bucket Challenge (thank you to Creed Foodservice for sponsoring the event). It was a beautiful day and I believe very successful. We also managed to break the UK record. It was lovely to meet Hayley Tamaddon (Andrea Beckett in Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice Star) – who was very nice and posed for lots of pictures. Also there were Gloucestershire’s own Eddie the Eagle, Gaynor Faye, Ashley Taylor Dawson who also joined in with a Spinathon.