It’s Lucy here again. I’ve been volunteering with Bounce Works for the last 15 days.
It’s been another truly amazing week here at Apart of Me.
We reached 1000 followers on Twitter, and we are sending this amazing book about Loss to our 1000th Follower.
But really, our mission has nothing to do with numbers, likes, or followers, and everything to do with real heart-to-heart connections. This week we have made some friends who have completely blown us away with their stories of finding hope despite tragic losses when they were young. You will find a snippet from Amy’s story below.
Please do get in touch if you feel moved to share your own story. We will be using a selection of stories from our community in the Apart of Me world, in the Cave to be precise. Knowing that there are other people who have experienced something similar to you helps young people overcome those powerful feelings of isolation and loneliness when going through a period of grief.
The theme of death awareness and positivity this week has renewed our conviction that we all need more support and transparency around this important and ultimately inescapable subject.
Whilst looking for the positives, the Bounce Works team have been reminded this week of the emotional nature of our mission; our team have cried this week on several occasions as we’ve read some of the stories from our community, and we are all so grateful that you are brave enough to help us start these conversations. We’ve listened and talked, read endless blogs and scoured the Internet and the one thing that keeps coming up is that talking about it helps!
We are constantly in awe of your courage and this week we were especially touched by Amy’s words:
I think what you’re doing is incredible. My Mother’s death was a massive taboo in my family…. my Dad would never mention her or talk about her ever. I didn’t even have a photo of her until I left home because I felt like it would upset my Step Mum/ Dad. I didn’t know she had committed suicide until I was 15, when I found her death certificate as part of my passport application that my Dad had been filling out. Nobody really explained this to me. It took me a very long time to become open about my Mum’s suicide, for years a lot of my close friends didn’t know. It’s affecting me now - currently going through CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for depression and anxiety, a lot of which I think comes from having such a strange childhood where I felt like I wasn’t allowed to grieve or ask about my Mum. I wish my Dad would have talked about it more…. he still doesn’t really talk about it now. His brother (my uncle) died a few years ago - suicide again. And that didn’t even make him speak to me about my Mum. It’s so important for families to be able to communicate with each other in these situations because you can support each other, that’s so important.
We couldn’t agree more Amy. Finding a way to talk about death could literally save a life. A new study from Manchester University shows that 25 percent of under 20’s who die by suicide had previously lost someone. The report emphasises the emotional impact of bereavement on young people and recommends that bereavement support should be widely available.
So, let’s start a conversation that really matters.
“As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a well spent life brings happy death”
Leonardo Da Vinci
What does a well spent day mean to you?
Lying on a beach sipping pina coladas?
Finishing, or even starting, that novel you always meant to write?
Or simply knowing you did your best?
It could mean talking about the things that really matter.
It may include tears, it may mean showing up and being vulnerable, it may mean just listening, and it may be only the beginning.
Simple things like telling important people in our life that we love them, and making basic preparations for our last days. These things can make a huge difference. My mother made a list before she died of everyone that we should contact and everyone that she would like invited to the funeral. It was such a relief not to have to scour her address book and guess.
She talked about her death and her will a lot, from as early as I can remember. The conversations about her will were not always welcome. But the conversations about her end-of-life wishes were invaluable. And, as the end drew near, when she decided to withdraw from food and fluids, my sister and I were so grateful to feel that we knew what she wanted. Above all she wanted to retain her dignity and once she lost control of her bladder and bowels, we understood how much this mattered to her. Letting her go was particularly difficult and complicated for us as we had lost our brother to suicide the year before and now we were there in a hospital room watching her as she elected to let go. There were moments when the gravity of her decision was overwhelming and nothing seemed to make sense, but because she had spoken to us, because we knew what really mattered to her, it was easier to accept.
Phew! It feels strange putting all this down here for anyone to see, but I am doing it because it’s so important, and central to the Apart of Me mission.
With 16 days to go until we launch our crowdfunding campaign for Apart of Me the excitement is reaching fever pitch here, and we hope you can feel it too!
The team is really incredible and we’re flat out, but in a good way! Ideas zing through the ether at all hours of the day and night via Whatsapp and email and everyone is in sync, meeting deadlines and challenges alike. Under the surface, there is a lot of brilliant dedicated work happening, and great communication is holding us together. We say it how it is (with love of course), express our ideas, needs and concerns, and it works.
As always we have some juicy facts and websites for you to explore on our theme of death awareness and positivity. Enjoy!
Check out Death over Dinner and start your own dinner party conversation!
It’s not really surprising, but many of the leading voices in the death positive movement are those who work with the dead: funeral directors, morticians and end-of-life care workers to name a few. Caleb Wilde is a funeral director who sees death as something beautiful!
Stephen Jenkinson talks about the meaning of death in this beautiful 5 minute video. It’s worth making a cup of tea, getting nice and comfy, and soaking up his gentle wisdom.
Most of us are addicted to the drama of death as portrayed in movies, on TV and in videogames. It’s one area we can be safe to be with death. It’s fiction of course and that makes it okay, we are able to explore our emotions and relationship to death in a safe way, once-removed from our own very real lives. We found a very interesting article on how games can give players an opportunity to confront their own mortality here.
Poetry is another way that we express emotion; there is something about the intensity of a formal repetition of sounds, words, and rhythm that can convey feeling like nothing else. Whether it’s the lyrics of a song or a Shakespearean sonnet, poetry can provide the bridge between our inner and outer worlds. This stunning Zen poem asks what you might do “If This Was Your Last Day”.
We love juicy facts and random bits of knowledge, they keep us on our toes and remind us to smile:
About 50 billion cells die in your body every day.
Male corpses often get erections.
There are animals that don’t die, or at least don’t die from old age, including a jellyfish and a kind of flatworm.
When a person dies, his sense of hearing is the last to go.
And finally, I’ll leave you with this extra juicy one: The expression ‘la petite mort’ or ‘little death’ is used to describe the sensation of orgasm. During orgasm and just after there is often a brief loss of consciousness, everything else slips away as the waves of ecstasy roll through us. It’s interesting that this temporary little death, which is one of the most desirable and pleasurable human experiences, is likened to one of the most feared.
We wish you a great week, please do keep sharing our link with your friends.
Lucy and the amazing team at Apart of Me xxx
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Apart of Me is a restricted fund under auspices of Prism the Gift Fund, reg. charity 1099682
We're always grateful to have volunteers who can help us with our mission. If you have skills in fundraising, marketing, UX or games development or if you think you can help us in anyway please visit our volunteering page.
We're actively looking for people who are happy to share their stories of loss or bereavement, particularly if it relates to loss of a parent or sibling at a young age.
We are building a library of stories which will be available and searchable from within our app, share your story to find out more.
You can help a lot by promoting our campaign by sharing it with your friends on social media or any other way you see fit!