Through meeting people at Child Bereavement UK, you feel you are not on your own. You make really good friends who understand how you are feeling at certain times of the year and don’t judge you for how you are feeling.

Kayleigh talks about her mum, who died from cancer when Kayleigh was 14 years old, and how she’s been supported by Child Bereavement UK.

 “My mum was as mad as anything, she loved life. One day she said: ‘That’s it, we’re going to see your brother in Bournemouth!’ We went for a long weekend and sat on the beach eating fish and chips, having a great time.  She was happy, but she had to come to terms with the fact that she was going to die.  She had overcome the fear of it and was happy it was sorted.

“After she died, I had quite a lot of time off school and, because she died in July, the whole of the summer holidays.  So, when I came back a lot of people didn’t know what had happened.  One of my teachers asked me how my mum was coping, and I had to tell him she had died just a few weeks before.  It was quite difficult to start settling into doing my GCSEs, trying to be normal as if nothing had changed.

“My school offered me one-to-one support.  They told my classmates and I got a lot of messages saying: ‘We are here for you.’  I told people that if they had any questions about my mum to just ask me. ‘If I get upset, it doesn’t matter, just ask me.’  People said that helped them a lot and it helped me to be able to talk to them about what happened.

“I got bullied a bit afterwards with people saying things that weren’t very nice.  My grades were dropping but the school didn’t know what was happening to me.  After my mum died I started getting quite bad panic attacks and I really didn’t know how to cope. My emotions were everywhere, and I couldn’t put them into a box.  I tried to mask everything by doing schoolwork and trying to think ‘Well I’m OK, as long as my grades are OK, I’m doing alright.’ But it’s not as easy as that.

“After she died, some of my mum’s friends became distant.  I’d contact them, and they’d be happy about it, but nothing happened.  It’s quite hard to say: ‘I’m trying here but you’re not giving me anything’.          

“But my friends were amazing. One of my best friends knows when I’m down and when to cheer me up. She’s there for me at any time, even at half eleven at night when I’m crying my eyes out over something silly. 

“I came to Child Bereavement UK in the first place for a one-to-one session.  It helped them to get an idea of what had happened and what support they could offer me.  Soon after starting the sessions, I started coming to the Young Person’s Advisory Group.

“When I started Young People’s Advisory Group, I understood that I was not on my own.  If you get upset, you get upset – no one is here to judge you.  It’s a safe environment where people are happy to talk.  Through meeting other people, you feel you are not on your own. You make really good friends who understand how you are feeling at certain times of the year and don’t judge you for how you are feeling.   I can show my emotions a lot more, I don’t hide them as much.  Nothing is ever going to be the same – I know that – but it’s going to get easier as time goes on.

“Because I’d been feeling so low, I didn’t really know where I was going.  Everything was too hard to think about.  Child Bereavement UK helped me to make the decision to go to university.  I thought that it would give me a better chance of getting a good career.  Regardless of mum dying, I still needed to focus on something.

“Life is good now.  I am in the final year of university, I definitely wouldn’t have thought that a few years ago.  I’m pretty happy, my family life is good.  A lot has changed, and it’s been a lot of sacrifice, obviously.  

“I’d say to someone else in my situation – you’ll get there, it might feel hard and you might have dark days when you really don’t want to get out of bed, but you’ll get there.  Sometimes it’s actually quite important to force yourself to do the things you don’t want to do, it makes life a hundred times easier.”