I lost a lifelong friend in a car crash at the age of 23. This story is about how I learnt that it was okay to grieve.
What challenge does this story focus on?
When I lost my friend in the car crash, the hardest thing was that no one else could really understand what I was going through. Being so young, I wasn't that acquainted with death and as my friend was from Essex, and I'd been living in Southampton since university, no one around me knew her.
How has this challenge affected you?
I felt very isolated and became depressed as a result. I also struggled to cry and allow myself to really feel my grief. I thought because she was my friend, and not a relative, I didn't have the right to stay sad.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
I feel grateful for my friends, family and faith, who all carried me through. If it wasn't for my friend Hannah, I wouldn't have sought the help of an incredible counsellor. She was the one who helped me the most. I also feel proud of myself, that I managed to learn how to grieve well. Eventually, I gave myself permission to cry and it has helped me in all other areas of my life.
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
The main thing I've learned is that it is best to deal with things, as they arise. I buried my grief for six months, and it was more complicated to unpick it as a result. I've also learned that my grief is my grief. I was the only person who had that friendship with my friend, and I was totally worthy of grieving that friendship when she died.
How do you use this learning in your life now?
If someone is grieving, don't avoid the conversation, but ask how they are doing and keep checking in on them.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
Grief is personal to the individual and it's important to allow ourselves to grieve in the way we need to. We are totally worthy of grieving, it's important for us to process so we can heal from that loss. It's okay to grieve, it is hard, and emotional, but it is okay.