Written by Jake, a Winston’s Wish Content Creator
The world makes sense.
It’s an exciting place to be.
I’m on holiday and I know for sure I’m seeing some cool stuff that other kids back at home my age haven’t seen.
Kangaroos coming to the door for food,
aborigines playing didgeridoos,
the Sydney Opera House,
big glowing blue waves. I mean really big!
I think back now to that child, unaware of the cruel plans the universe was cooking up.
Could I have done more to protect him?
Or would I want to?
The phone rings.
And she’s gone forever.
I don’t want to hear that sound ever again.
My sister Eve, 19. And she will never be 20.
She was my best friend. I’m far far away.
I fly 24 hours home with my mum and when we land, we are still far far away.
There is nowhere we can drive or fly that will take us any closer to the time before that phone rang.
Sunshine makes everything feel better.
Everything except this.
So what now? Is every summer ruined?
At this point, I haven’t learned to choose constructive answers for these questions.
I’m looking around at my family, and there are a lot of people suffering.
I’m a kid though, right?
So they’re going to teach me how?
So I wait.
Turns out, this is a self-taught class.
No one is coming with the answers. In fact, some people are asking me.
And there, in that moment it dawns on me; life is what YOU make it.
That’s your freedom and your incarceration.
You’re the Gaoler and the Saviour.
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The next 28 years (so far) are a product of the answers I put to the questions that seemed to be asking themselves. It’s a messy mix of confusion, sadness, resilience, tenacity.
Treading the tightrope – self-belief on one side and self-doubt on the other, never knowing where you feel most comfortable falling.
I’ve been in therapy as an adult, and often I’m asked to consider that 10 year old boy. To ask him how he feels, what he needs. To guide and reassure him.
What he needed was someone to help him realise that you can enjoy your life without guilt. That grief is hard enough to carry without weighing yourself down with feeling guilty for the fact that your life can and will continue.
I made a promise to my sister that I would never get over her loss. It was my way of honouring her importance, her beauty. But that promise held me back. It prevented me from living fully.
I wish I had had access to the type of support that Winston’s Wish offers, where I could have recognised the life-limiting habits that I developed in those early years and released myself.
Grief feels like a disorientating whirlwind, but if you reach out for the right support, and you are kind to yourself then it doesn’t have to stay that way.
For now, just know that death & change are two of life’s few certainties.
Death has come, and just as certain, so will change.
You won’t feel this way forever, and with courage and support, you can and will shape a bright future.
Choose some bright colours. Be brave and paint your own story. Your lost loved ones live on with you, so take them on an epic journey of adventure. Let them comfort you when it goes wrong, and let them share it when it goes well.
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.
You can call us for free on 08088 020 021 (open 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday), email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our live chat (open 3-8pm, Monday to Friday) and find out more on our Get Support page.
If you need urgent support in a crisis, you can contact the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258.