My name is Jamie. I’m 35-years old and live in London. My twin brother, Charlie, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and died two months after diagnosis. To say my family and I were devastated is an understatement – I felt like part of me died.
My brother Charlie was… it pains me to write ‘was’… an incredible human being. Kind, thoughtful, generous, adventurous, funny, charming… so full of life. This whole experience feels unreal – it all happened so quickly and then he was dead.
I went into action mode like I’m guessing most of us do when something like this happens – I organised the funeral, I was the executor of his will, I made sure our mother was as ok as possible, I relayed messages to family and friends – all whilst still having to go to work and be “normal”.
Colleagues and friends at work gave me a card with their condolences, which I did appreciate but I was shocked that nobody really ever asked him me how I was doing or even brought it up in conversation. It was like it never happened – it felt like the whole world expected me to act normally despite my world having turned upside down.
I had no concept of grief, nobody told me what it would involve, and I have found myself trying hard to just carry on with life without really knowing how to take stock of all that has happened. But I have been shocked by the lack of willingness to talk by those around me, and by how little information there is about grief that is actually useful and personal.
I heard about The Loss Foundation from a friend. Support groups and meet ups with strangers is not something I would ever think about doing, but I was desperate to have a real conversation. I found the process of talking and hearing from others to be such a relief. I was not the only one who found that friends and colleagues had stopped talking to them about their loss and, although it was sad to hear that others are suffering, I felt like part of a group of people who understood. It also made me reflect on how I probably haven’t been great at being there for others during their difficult times – I didn’t know what to say either.
I attended one of The Loss Foundation’s workshops and learned so much about grief and all that it can be coupled with, and it made a massive difference to me. First and foremost, I’ve been able to visualise the process of grief differently, and I’ve been a lot kinder to myself.
I didn’t know what I wanted to come out of writing this short piece about my experience, but it felt like another opportunity to share part of my story, to talk about Charlie when there are so few opportunities to do so with others. I could talk about him forever, and I will.
I wish that everyone could just be a bit kinder to others when they are grieving and reach out more – it really doesn’t take that much effort and it can make all the difference.
During 2019 we want to share YOUR stories and photos in our newsletters. So many people have told us that reading about others’ experiences has been helpful for them, and so we want to bring our users together via shared stories. Huge thanks to those who have already been in touch.
We would be honoured to hear about your loved ones. If you are interested in taking part please do get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org