Four Young People in Northern Ireland Experience the Death of a Parent Every Day
As four young people experience the death of a parent every day in Northern Ireland, a partnership between Funeral Partners NI and grief charity Cruse Bereavement Support NI, with assistance from the National Lottery Community Fund, is supporting young people navigating the loss of a loved one.
The Teenage Youth Bereavement Project is a video support resource that has been created by members of Cruse Bereavement Support’s, Youth Advisory Group - ‘Somewhere For Us’. The short films include testimonies from young people about their own grief journey, discussion of personal experience following loss, and guidance on how to address grief, in a bid to support their peers who find themselves facing the death of someone they loved.
From discussing the individuality of each bereavement journey to the feelings young people have surrounding death, the videos aim to bring a level of understanding to a journey that has been presented so prematurely to many young people across the Province. Entitled ‘Coping Immediately After a Death’, ‘Birthdays and Anniversaries’, ‘Coping at School or College’ and ‘How to be a Grief Ally’, they offer guidance to help prevent isolation but equally promote self-care and time alone to process the huge life event that is death. The young people also discuss milestones including anniversaries and birthdays in the aftermath of a loss and how to cope with and mark the occasions.
Speaking about the new resources, James Brown of James Brown & Sons, said: “Grieving is individual to every single person. Dealing with death is a challenging life event but when it happens to young people, it can be an even more complex event that can be extremely isolating.
“We hope that these resources, created through Funeral Partners NI's collaboration with Cruse Bereavement NI, are a positive step in supporting young people and those who work with them to help them understand, and live with loss.
“It is important for us to be part of an initiative that reaches out to young people and their peers at a time when they need it most. We hope this support material will prove valuable for all who find themselves facing bereavement.”
Belfast school friends said that having an outlet like Cruse has been so important for them in dealing with the grief they’ve experienced since losing a friend. There is an absolute necessity for this resource as the subject of death can still be such a taboo subject around parents and teachers who don’t understand how to relate to bereaved children. Being part of this video project has enabled them to come together with people in a similar position where they could open up and talk about their own experience in a safe space, centred around grief. They said they found group therapy really helpful in realising the goal isn’t to fix but to guide them along the path as they deal with their grief. They feel there is a lack of support for young people experiencing bereavement and that this project has brought them closer together.
Chloe Chapman from Newtownabbey said: “Getting involved in this project made me realise that I’m not alone on my grief journey. Everyone experiences grief in different ways and I think it’s better to hear from young people than, for example, take grief advice from your mum. Through this project I’ve met people I can relate to and I’ve realised it’s ok to grieve.”
Lara Ellerslie from Carrickfergus said: “I enjoyed taking part in this video project as it was easy to sit in a room and not have to talk about grief and loss as the people around me were in a similar situation. We all know how each other feels without having to say it. I lost my little brother and granny in the same year and by taking part in this video production I want to support those who are going through something similar to what I have experienced.”
Megan McClurg from Killyleagh said: “Bereaved young people can easily slip through the cracks with no resources or support. Being involved in this video project has been an incredible experience. I believe that receiving support can change your life as every day is different and it’s a long road.”
Aideen McMullan from Lisburn said: “After my dad passed away, I found adults couldn’t relate to how I was feeling and I wanted time to remember. Adults were useless to me. Taking part in this video project was important for me as although grief is a taboo subject, it isn’t going away. I hope watching this video will help other people who need support for grief and loss.”
Emma Papaconstantinou from Carrickfergus said: “My grief is triggered by questions about my family and how life should be. Sometimes I’m paranoid that I am the only person who remembers my little brother and he will be forgotten in this world. I took part in this video project as I want to remember my brother for the rest of my life and just because we’re young doesn’t mean we forget about the person we have loved.”
Thelma Abernethy, Head of Cruse in NI, said: “We were delighted to be asked by James Brown & Sons to help with this project. Whilst four young people a day experience the death of a parent, many more are bereaved of siblings, grandparents, friends and other family members, so the statistics are a lot higher. Support for bereaved children and young people when they need it is vital and we know that these videos will be of great value to them. The Youth Advisory Group at Cruse decided on the topics for the videos and developed the content. They felt it was important to include some guidance for teachers and for other young people who may be supporting their friend who has been bereaved. They are an amazing group of bereaved young people who want to ensure that other bereaved young people know they are not alone.”
To find out more about the project or to request a pack, please visit: https://www.jamesbrownfuneraldirectors.com/cruse-bereavement/
Funeral Partners NI businesses involved in this project include Adair & Neely, Derry~Londonderry; Bairds of Antrim; Houston & Williamson, Belfast; James Brown & Sons, Belfast, Dunmurry, Newtownabbey and Whiteabbey; John Gray & Co, Bangor, Holywood and Newtownards; Joseph Poots & Son, Portadown; Mulhollands Funeral Directors, Carrickfergus and Larne; Shields of Donaghadee.