This blog post has been written by Grace, one of our Young Ambassadors. Grace and her family received support from Winston’s Wish after the death of her father when she was eight years old.
Bereavement is such a taboo subject in today’s society and sometimes we are made to suffer in silence. Everyone’s grief is different but there are things we can do to help ourselves and others around us who aren’t sure what do to. When my dad died I quickly realised that my friends didn’t really know what to do and they had no idea how I felt. I wanted them to understand without them having to go through something that will change my life completely.
I found myself wanting normality back. Routine is the thing I turned to as an initial reaction. As it turns out I wasn’t ready for that and neither were my classmates and teachers. It has been 9yrs since my dad died and the biggest thing I’ve learnt is communication. You can’t expect everyone to know what to do even though you really want them to. Telling people what’s okay and what isn’t is okay. People don’t know how to react unless they have had the same experience.
Talking to friends
When it comes to friends and classmates, they can be unsure on whether to mention what’s happened or even say things related to your loved one’s death. In an ideal world, people would know how to react and act and things would be fine, but as we know that isn’t the case.
If you feel comfortable telling your friends how you feel it not only helps you it helps them. They can gauge some understanding and makes openly talking about who’s died easier and less awkward. There have been many occasions when I have mentioned my dad and the whole group has gone quiet because no one knows what to say or the conversation has changed immediately. I am very open and love to talk about my dad because it helps to keep him alive, but my friends only accepted this because I had to tell them it’s what I wanted.
Here are some tips when you want your friends to understand:
- Tell them what you want. Whether that’s them asking questions or not saying anything at all.
- Get them to check out the #HELP2MAKESENSE page. Encourage them to watch the ‘How to help a grieving friend’ video.
- Write it down if you have to. Sometimes these conversations can be awkward so writing down your feelings is helpful for you and your friends so they can try to understand.
- Give yourself time. Don’t feel like you have to explain every detail to your mates. They can still support you without knowing everything.
Getting support at school
If teachers haven’t had the relevant training it can be difficult for them to know what to say/do. It can be awkward telling a teacher what you want them to do when it’s usually the other way around but if you need that time for yourself or to go sit with someone then ask for it.
When I was younger I didn’t realise how much my grief would affect every part of my life. School is a place where we spend the majority of our week and if you’re having a rough day you need that escape. Don’t be afraid to ask because your wellbeing is super important when trying to tackle school, exams and homework.
When someone important has died is throws everyone into a bit of a panic. You know what you need to make things easier and you know that nothing is going to make it worse because the worst has already happened. If there is one thing to take away from this, it would be to tell your friends and teachers exactly that. It’s okay to be upset and cry.