“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters”
As a child I was very fortunate to never lose anybody close to me, I didn’t lose any family members and I didn’t lose any friends. As those around me coped with the lose of those they knew, I could never relate to how they felt, and I never imagined relating to how they felt. Death and the thought of dying has always been at the back of my mind – I’m petrified of dying, I am petrified of leaving those who love me behind and I’m worried about what happens after you die.
In the last 15 months I have lost three important people, three inspirational people and three of the closest people in my life.
I first experienced grief when my friend Nat passed away in November 2016. Nat and I went to college together, we become close friends up until the moment she died. She was transgender so we always used to give each other advice, talk about the gender identity clinic, we’d have heart to heart chats on the bus and I’d spill the gossip on pride. In that November there was an article about a young person who had killed themselves – I knew there was a 50/50 chance that I’d knew them, but I never imagined it to be Nat. I was let on the sofa in my kitchen minding my own business when I read the article that said that Nat passed away and I immediately broke down – A week beforehand Nat sent me her story for my LGBT+ Me project and every now and then I read it and remember how much of an amazing, courageous and positive friend she was. When Nat passed away I went into a quiet state – I kept myself to myself, I didn’t want to socialise or go out and I stayed in doors all the time.
The second time I experienced grief was 5 months later in April when my world came crashing down – My Nan passed away unexpectedly. The night before I rang my Nan to see if we could visit her the next day as it was Easter weekend and me and my sister wanted to visit her – That was when I found out she was in hospital with a chest infection – I wasn’t worried or had any incline on what was going to happen until the next day I got given the news and I just blew. The last time I saw my Nan I said “I love you” and she shouted back “Are you okay? You never say that” but looking back I’m forever grateful for doing that, I don’t show love very often and I’m glad that the last time I saw my Nan I was able to tell her how I felt. Me and my Nan would meet up every week for a cup of tea (I had milkshakes) and we’d always go shopping – Whenever my friends saw her in town they’d always say hello and lastly she was so accepting and encouraged me to follow my dreams. When I lost my Nan I went into a depressive state – I drank a lot, I ate really unhealthy food and binged badly, I cried an awful lot, I slept and kept myself away from other people because I was heart broken. In June last year I decided to do what my Nan always wanted to do – and that’s travelling – She always encouraged me to travel and she always told me about the places she’d always wanted to visit but never got the chance to so I’m making sure I think about her before making key life choices.
My third grief has happened recently – Last Wednesday the world lost Claire – Claire was a mental health advocate, a voice for those who couldn’t speak up and my best friend. Me and Claire met in 2014 at our local youth centre. From the moment we both met we automatically clicked and became the best of friends. We went on hundreds of Starbucks dates, we went shopping ALL the time, we travelled to Cardiff on several occasions and we did many other things. One of my most favourite memories is the Hugs For Stephen Day ( Hugs for Stephen day ). On the day myself and Claire saw Savannah stood by herself and we took her under our wings. We all got a hug of a victor, we all laughed for hours and we had an awesome day. Me and Claire promised to conquer the world – and my god she did conquer the world with the work she did. Claire’s death has shattered me as I never ever ever expected it, and it wasn’t that long ago that I messaged her saying that I’ll visit her soon.
Grief is something that I will never get over – it is heart breaking and no matter how many times it happens I will feel the same grief I did the first time I lost someone close to me. Never feel guilty for feeling grief – you are allowed to grieve, you are allowed to be heart broken, you are allowed to cry thousands of tears or eat lots of food. You need to make sure you look after yourself properly and seek help when you need it – because the person who has passed away wouldn’t want you to end up hurting yourself or making yourself ill.
Grief comes in 5 different stages –
Each stage can happen in a different order or can happen weeks or months after the person has passed away – which is completely normal!
When someone close to you has passed away surround yourself with good people – I lived in halls when I lost my Nan and Nat so I was constantly around people (16 of us lived together) so I always had someone to talk to. Take time off work if you need too – you’re entitled to it. Go on a holiday or visit some friends who live far away – travelling keeps me sane, travelling allows me to leave my problems and have two weeks with no stress or worries at all! And lastly – make sure your body isn’t suffering, eat fruit, drink plenty of water and don’t over sleep as it can make you go into a deeper depressive state!
Over the next 18 months I’ve planned a ton of fundraisers for Nat, Claire and my nan – I’m going to raise money for charities that are close to there hearts. I’m going to push my body to the limits (literally) to ensure that their legacy and lives are remembered!
I know that every day Nat, Claire and my Nan will be stood beside me through all of the good choices I make, the bad choices I make, the good times and the bad times I know they will be there. I am just praying that they are in a safe place and that they’re proud of me.
There is so much support out there if you need it. Here are some links below: