1 in 29 children in the UK under the age of 16 will suffer the death of a parent.
I was 13 when my Dad died suddenly. It was utterly devastating and that day changed my life forever.
I didn’t have any councilling. Mental health awareness just wasn’t a thing back in 2000. I had a little bit of time off school and then was back to normal like nothing had happened. I didn’t talk about it, I just couldn’t. Through my teenage years I preoccupied my mind with hanging out with friends, working at Premier Inn (loved that job), discovering nightclubs and dancing the night away with Apple VKs until 3am.
In 2008 I moved away to uni and it was during my second year that I started to struggle. It was as if my Dad had just died. It felt raw and I couldn’t understand why all of these emotions were coming to the surface. Being the stubborn Virgo I am I ploughed on ( this is not recommended ). It wasn’t until I met my partner Stuart in 2015. With his support I finally plucked up the courage to ask for professional help and admit that I wasn’t getting any better on my own.
I saw an amazing therapist and she explained that I had developed PTSD due to the trauma of not processing my Dads death. I always thought PTSD was something soldiers developed from being in war zones. I had no idea that this is what I was struggling with.
I had EMDR therapy (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) which shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma, as the body recovers from a physical trauma. I recalled the disturbing events whilst my therapist began sets of eye movements. These movements dampened the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events. It honestly changed my life. It was intense, emotionally draining and I would often have to come home and sleep for hours after my sessions.
Those memories are still there, they’re just a lot quieter. They don’t upset me anymore as they once did.
You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this?
From my own experience I want to do good and make a difference through my brand; to support those children and young people who are going through what I went through. To get them the help they need whilst they are still young so hopefully they don’t develop the deep emotional scars that I have.
Through Little Willow I will be supporting the incredible bereavement charity Grief Encounter. By donating £2 from each sale directly to them. I feel so passionate about all children and young people having the right support to process their grief.
You can read more about the amazing work Grief Encounter do on their website.