What I learned from losing a parent at a young age.

So, I actually wrote this blog post over a year ago on my old travel blog, another year on and I still feel all these things are important with the added extra of really learning to talk about grief. Please take a read and let me know what you’ve learnt from losing someone you love x

The 9-year anniversary of losing my mum is soon approaching, people who know me or knew my mum are probably reading this and thinking wow where has this time gone, it only seems like yesterday. l learned and matured so much when losing my mum at the age of 15. July 2010 the sun was shining as we started our day, eating breakfast while waiting for mum to drop us to school, this was the moment our lives got turned upside down. To say we were shocked would be putting it lightly, something so sudden and unexpected makes things that little more difficult to come to terms with.

I will remember the day that changed mine and my family’s life’s forever, however rather than dwelling on what happened I would like to share a few things I have learned from processing the death of a parent for anyone else that has been or is currently experiencing what I did.

Grief is complicated

Everyone will at some stage of their life have to face the loss of a parent; I just had to face this a lot earlier than most. My mum passed due to a sudden cardiac arrest, however, we later found out she had rare cancer that affects the heart. Grief is complicated and affects everyone is so many different ways. So, if you are grieving in different ways to family members don’t be concerned it affects us all differently.

At the beginning it can all be very overwhelming, you may stay in denial and anger phases for a while as you don’t want to accept and process the grief. I know in the first few weeks I would be fine and strong the next and then be in floods of tears the next. It’s all a bit of a blur until the funeral is over, this is when the true realisation hit me. Grief can be hard to explain, the emotion is overwhelming, numbing and just a little strange if I’m honest.

I am still grieving 9 years on, every anniversary, birthday or Mother’s Day are just as hard each year and these events never get easier but now I have learned to use these days to celebrate my mum just like everyone else does on Mother’s Day.

It never gets better you just learn how to move forward and deal with what’s happened

Your emotions will be all over the place in the first few weeks even months, every emotion you feel is ok to be feeling and don’t feel you need to explain them. Your processing and dealing with a death that will change you forever, don’t feel guilty for being sad.

I remember feeling ok one minute, angry or sad the next. I would say for the first year waves of emotions would hit, sadness, pain, anger all at unexpected moments. You will have good days where you finally feel happy again then the next you won’t want to even get out of bed, this is all normal.

Grieving never gets easier and you will be grieving for the rest of your lives, however, learning to cope and move forward from this does get better. I have gone on to do so much with my life, my sister has had a baby, we have both moved to new places and I know my mum would be prouder than ever of us both. So, if you’re currently suffering the loss of a parent and feeling like you’re never going to be able to move on from this sadness, remember them for the good times and how much they would want you to enjoy life. After all, you now know how short life can be, so make the most of it and make them proud.

It’s ok to have a down day

Being sad and having a down day is ok. If you want to stay in bed and not talk to anyone every once in a while, this is ok. Crying is healthy and helps you heal.

Your friends are there to support you don’t push them away

Grief can change you and make divides between you and others, however, true friends will support you and stick by you in your lowest days. Friends will understand that your emotions are all over the place in the first few months and just be there for a shoulder to cry on. I am forever grateful for the friends I had around me on that day, that came straight to my side once I was home from the hospital to the friends that attended the funeral and got drunk with me at the wake, to the friends that are still supporting me every Mother’s Day, birthday and anniversary that goes by.

You’re going to need your friends more than ever at this time and I know you will be hurting but don’t turn your anger and hurt towards them, if you need space just tell them if you need more support tell them. However, some people are awkward and aren’t sure how to approach you in your time of need. If this is the case from friends and family, let them know you need them, talk to them, if your putting on a brave face they may just assume you don’t want to talk about it.

I’m glad it’s becoming more normal to talk about how your feeling, there’s nothing worse than bottling your emotions up, if you feel you can’t talk to your friends and family remember there’s many charity’s out there supporting young adults that are grieving.

Grief can cause mental strain

Grief can come in many types of ways, but the strain it can put on you as a teen is tough. A few years on after my mum died I started to get anxious about the most stupid things, if a family member wasn’t answering their phone I would think something had happened to them, when my niece was a baby I wouldn’t be able to watch her eat as I was super paranoid she would choke. I still get these feelings once in a while but nowhere near as frequent as they used to be. It makes sense really losing someone so close to you hurts and you’re scared to lose anyone else, I’m lucky I have friends and family to talk to when I’m feeling anxious.

Don’t feel bad if you feel you can’t talk about this experience, death is never the easiest topic of conversation

In the first year I put on a bit of a hard front, I was always fine and making sure everyone else was ok. I didn’t find it easy to talk about her or her death at all but as time went on talking about my mum became so much easier, it actually makes me smile talking about her because she was the best and so many people have great memories of her. Everyone struggles in their own way so don’t feel bad if you feel you can’t talk, it does get easier.

You get to choose how and when you move forward

I am extremely lucky to have my friends and family’s constant support. Especially my auntie, even though she was dealing with the loss of her sister, her main priority was me, my sister and cousins. Having this support made it easier for me to come to terms with losing someone so close at such a young age.

Everyone grieves in different ways and don’t be ashamed of your down days, if your struggling, talk. Remember your parents will always be proud of you and want you to be happy whether they are dead or alive. So, carry on making them proud and smile at the memory’s you made together.

When I got back from traveling I promised myself I would do a bit more for charity, so on the 30th June, me and my housemate who also lost her mum will be running the Race for Life Bristol 5k.

Both of us will be running in memory of our mums so any donations will be greatly appreciated. Please donate by following the link below:


How i could afford to travel

A year ago i returned home from my trip around the world, regardless of how I travelled, or where I travelled, the one question I still always get asked: How did you afford it?

I feel exceptionally lucky to of been able to spend so much time traveling the world and allowing such a massive dream of mine become reality. I feel even more lucky that I was able to do this a month after graduating from university. A few times while traveling I was asked if my parents helped me fund this or weather I’m working while doing so to be able to afford such a long trip. The first question was always hard to answer because no, my parents didn’t just give me money to go and enjoy life, but it was a bittersweet gift from my mum.

I received the money that funded my travels through inheritance. It’s a generous gift, of course, but id of rather not had to have lost a loved one to be able to afford it. When people say inheritance, most people assume you’ve lost a grandparent however, this was not the case for me. Time to get a little personal, for those of you that don’t know me, my mum suddenly passed away when I was 15 years old and as you could imagine this was the hardest thing me and my family have ever had to deal with. The money me and my sister inherited was put into holding until we were old enough to make sensible decisions of what we would do with it.

When you inherit money the burden of ‘doing the right thing’ with it can put a lot of pressure on people, especially if you receive it so young. At the age of 18 my obsession of planning a round the world trip made it clear that I was going to finish my degree and buy a one-way ticket. Some may debate weather that was a wise way to spend my inheritance but for me it was the best discussion I ever made.

Since I was young I was obsessed with going on holidays, family holidays, girl’s holidays and I always dreamed of travelling for a long period of time. I always expressed this to my mum I would sit there for hours writing lists of country’s I wanted to visit or flick through holiday brochures begging her to take us to America. My mum new how much I wanted to do this even from the age of 15, and she always wanted me and mybsister to fulfil our dreams, this is why I went to university got my degree and then brought that plane ticket. University was also a key goal for me and I thought long and hard about taking a gap year between sixth form and university, this was very tempting however I was scared if I left then I would never of came back to go to university, so I got my degree then celebrated that success with a trip around the world.

So, for anyone wondering how I could afford to spend so long away, you have your answer. I do not regret spending my money this way as i learnt so much in those months and experienced things I will never forget, and I can only say I’m forever grateful for the ‘bittersweet’ gift I received. I know my mum would be super proud of me for having the balls to travel solo and being the happiest I’ve ever been. My message for anyone with inheritance and wanting to travel but thinking you should be doing something more permanent with your money, don’t worry about if people think your ‘wasting’ it or you could be doing something more long lasting with it, go and have the best time making memories that will last a lifetime.

The money I had went along way due to backpacking around fairly cheap countries to begin with, staying in hostels, sleeping on overnight buses to save on accommodation and cooking as groups in New Zealand. I had the best time but sadly it couldn’t last forever, and I am now back home working a full-time job to fund my next adventure.

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