Written by Elin, a Winston’s Wish Youth Ambassador
Your whole world changes drastically when someone dies, no matter the situation, because that person isn’t in your life anymore. When my mam died, and during her illness, my life turned upside down because so many massive changes happened so quickly.
“As a child, uncertainty and lack of security is really difficult and confusing”
My mam was a single mother to me, her only child, so it was just me and her really. We had between one and three cats at a time, we were massive cat people! As I was a child, I was really dependent on her. We were extremely close, and I spent most of my time at home with her as we had many shared interests.
So, when she started staying at the hospital more and more it was really distressing because she was my constant in every aspect of my life, but she wasn’t home. The time where she was in and out of hospital really shook me and my routine because sometimes she was home, sometimes I was home alone, sometimes I was in hospital, sometimes I was in family and family friends’ houses.
As a child, uncertainty and lack of security is really difficult and confusing. Personally, the certainty of having someone and somewhere safe was all that I wanted and needed at that age. All I wanted was the certainty of my mam to be better and to be at home with me as she was my rock for my whole life. She was my home.
“These things seem so little now but back then it was terrifying, ground-breaking, and really difficult to adapt to”
When we found out she wasn’t going to get better, I moved in with my godmother, her husband, and their young child. This absolutely changed everything in my life, and I’ve lived there ever since. The simple things like living in a nuclear family, living with another child, and my daily routine were big changes for a 13-year-old.
My godmother’s allergic to cats so I had to give them to my grandmother, which was heart-breaking. It was almost like I lost everything from my life with my mam. I moved 15-20 minutes away from where I lived with my mam, but in rural Wales that feels just a little bit further, and getting to my school on the school bus was just under an hour away.
These things seem so little now but back then it was terrifying, ground-breaking, and really difficult to adapt to. Luckily, I had known my guardians my whole life so didn’t have to get to know them on top of everything else, but it still was an extremely difficult experience to learn to live with other people. There are different expectations, different meals, and different rules. There are big and little changes. Even the little changes can be extremely difficult, they were for me.
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“I can’t imagine being back home with my mam and the cats anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it”
As a 17-year-old, almost five years after my mam died, I still live with my guardians, their sons, and a dog. I was scared of dogs five years ago. I can’t imagine being back home with my mam and the cats anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. I miss it so much. I miss my old life just as much as my mam because she was my life. Personally, when my mam died my old life came to an end and my new life began.
All children and young people after a loss are extremely brave. Grief and loss is terrifying. Change and the unknown is terrifying. Five years on and I’m still adapting and that’s okay. My life changed drastically in the space of a year and every day I am learning how to live without my mam.
How to speak to Winston’s Wish
If you’re struggling with grief right now, Winston’s Wish is here to help and here to listen. Winston’s Wish provides support for grieving children and young people (up to the age of 25). We offer one-to-one and group support sessions. We also have lots of online resources and a Helpline, email and live chat service where you can talk to bereavement professionals.
If you need urgent support in a crisis, you can contact the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258.