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Hi, my name is Jack

This happened to me... Jack 400 X 494

In 2008 in the middle of my GCSEs, my Dad was taken to hospital. He had been ill for a few months and was frequently in and out of GPs’ surgeries trying to figure out what was wrong. On September 18th, the doctors finally figured it out. He had kidney cancer. On September 25th I came home from school to find out he was admitted to a hospice for terminal cancer patients. On September 28th, I spent all day with him in the hospice. We listened to The Eagles Greatest Hits CD and I kissed him goodbye. At 8:08pm that evening, he went to sleep and never woke up. My Mum was by his side. He was 55 years old. I was 15 and felt a strong sense of anger and numbness for a really long time.

The same week as his funeral, the town I lived in was voted the happiest place to live in the whole of Britain. This was when I first discovered the concept of "cruel irony". After months of crying, sitting on the sofa watching Loose Women, feasting on mountains of lasagne made by generous neighbours to ensure we were eating, I realised that what had happened to us was a total tragedy. BUT there were lots of quite funny, humorous, weird and wonderful moments of bereavement and this is why, aged 21, I’ve somehow become a stand-up comedian writing a show called GOOD GRIEF to encourage people to feel less awkward speaking about death.

Laurie Jack Lemon 400 X 286

One thing I’d like young Jack to know is...

I’d like to tell Jack aged 15 that you are not useless. There is a chance for you to do something with your life. There are so many other kids going through the same experience and you are not on your own. There are opportunities if you make them, there are new friends if you accept them, and there’s a new way of life that doesn’t have Dad in it physically, but nonetheless he will always be a part of it. Trust yourself that you haven’t lost who you are. You just might be hiding for a while. But you’ll come back in time.

One thing I’d like you to know is...

Dear Those Bereaved, don’t be scared of grieving. Let it take you on waves whenever it feels like it. Because if you ignore those feelings and that emotion, it’ll bite you on the backside months later. Embrace death, embrace crying and embrace comfort eating! Make sure you take those days off because you’ve woken up feeling sad and exhausted, and also that you take some days for laughing and spending time with the biscuit tin, watching a funny sitcom or reading a good book. Take time out to be happy and never be scared to tell someone you need that time!

One thing I’d like people who are caring for you to know is...

If you’re supporting a child that has lost someone, please be reassuring yet realistic. Be honest and truthful about situations, because a young person can always tell when something isn’t right. Be open about discussing and celebrating a loved one who may have died, don’t ignore they existed. Relationships with someone who has died only stop if you want them to – no-one ever truly dies if they live on in your memories and your laughter!