Guest blog: Young people are using experience of grief to help others

Everyone grieves differently. But sharing how you feel with someone who can relate to what you have been through often provides support in a whole different way.

For young people who lose someone close to them, it often feels like there isn’t an appropriate way to deal with their loss, because messaging around grief is frequently tailored to older people. The grief support available for younger people mainly focuses on young children who have lost parents.

Apart of Me works with young people on their grief journey, and we have worked with the organisation since 2020, through the #iwill Fund. They know that young people who have experienced loss are often best placed to help other young people cope after losing someone close to them. This is why they support youth social action, where they work with young people helping others and their local community.

They have Grief Guides  – like Grace, Hollie, Henry, Teigan and Valentine – who’ve each been supported by the organisation and are now giving back to the programme by helping others.

There is a lot we can learn from Apart of Me and their youth-informed approach to supporting bereaved young people. We caught up with Grace, Hollie, Henry, Teigan and Valentine to find out what they had to say about their experience and the impact it’s had on them personally.

Community is important

Shared experience and working through things with a group of people who have experienced the same thing as you is invaluable.

“None of us are trained professionals, but because of our lived experience, it means we can give young people a basis to help them with their own grief. This community is opening the door for more communities, to find more spaces like this. It’s something that’s really helped me in my own grief journey.” – Teigan

Everyone goes through grief – so why don’t we talk about it more?

A running thread throughout the conversation was one of coming together to combat stigma around grief, as well as helping others.

“We’re all going to go through grief at some point in our lives, yet it amazes me how much of a taboo it is in society. We’re not taught to deal with grief. There’s a lack of conversation in society and it’s a disadvantage to young people not having these groups and not having this education. We’re all connected to different experiences, yet we all live really separate lives – having a space that brings people together is important.” – Hollie

This project is sorely needed

There’s a real need for grief support for young people, by people who understand what they’re going through.

“If this wasn’t here, I’d want to be able to create it. By going through the programme, then facilitating the programme, it makes a difference. We don’t shy away from the dark and the deep, but we also have joy and laughter.” – Grace

Youth social action benefits everyone – including those partaking

Youth social action has the triple benefit of helping the young people taking part to boost their skills, while also improving life for their peers and also their community. This in turn delivers on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a fairer world’.

“Helping other people and speaking through my grief has helped me grow in confidence so much. It’s been 11 years since I lost my brother and I’ve held my cards close to my chest. Being in a safe space and hearing others share really changed that for me. I’ve really noticed being able to help people be aware of their grief more and care more.” – Valentine

Building communities of the future together

This project brings back a sense of community and creates social bonds to strengthen the communities of tomorrow.

“The work we’re doing makes us go back to the things that require community. Through getting humans back to human connection, we’re able to facilitate deep healing on a psychological level – and this is what building communities is all about.” – Henry

Thank you

A massive thank you from us to young people like Grace, Hollie, Henry, Teigan and Valentine who are using their lived experience to help others.

Together, we’re building communities of the future.

If you want to stay up to date with how we’re working with young people, sign up to our blog.

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The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £66 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action. The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill movement – to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.    

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