Whether it be her wedding, exam results day or simply sharing her holiday photos, the one person Hannah Carter has most wanted to enjoy her milestone moments with hasn’t been there.
For her beloved mum Mandy died in 2010 after a four-year battle with cancer when Hannah was just 17-years-old.
Nine years on, she has created a booklet called ‘Dear Grief’ with Fixers to help other young people dealing with bereavement.
‘Over the years I’ve had so many ups and downs,’ says Hannah, 26*, from Reading. ‘There have been so many important times in my life that I wish I could have shared with her.
‘But the reality is that you will never forget your loved one, and I’ve learnt to remember mum in other ways.
‘When I visit a city, I now always say a cheers to her while I’m there. When I got married, I added little touches that reminded me of her and in everyday life, I share funny stories about her.
‘I’ve learned to turn a hugely negative part of my life into something positive. She’s always with me.’
Hannah is keen to share the ways she has learnt to cope with her grief in a bid to help other young people who are struggling through her booklet.
‘I don’t think anything can prepare you for the loss of a loved one or someone you care about,’ she says. ‘It’s something you just can’t explain.’
Only five months away from her 18th birthday when her mother died, she says trying to cope was incredibly difficult, especially at such a pivotal time in her life.
‘I was at an age where I was supposed to be focusing on my studies, but there I was – like many other young adults - dealing with losing someone who I relied on.’
Hannah – who was 13 when her mum was diagnosed with a brain tumour - says she struggled to find any material offering support.
‘I was given a booklet but it was more aimed at six or seven-year-olds than people my age, and all the websites I visited just directed me elsewhere,’ she says.
‘I know I’m not the only one who has or will lose a parent being a young adult, so I feel there is a real need for help here.’
Hannah hopes her booklets will be available in schools, doctors’ surgeries and youth clubs.
‘My booklet is something I wish I had been given when I was younger,’ says Hannah. ‘I want to show that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and that it’s okay to talk about how it makes us feel.
‘Grief is a really personal thing. Some people grieve in 24 hours while for some people it takes 24 years.
‘A massive help to me was seeing a counsellor. I found it helpful talking about my feelings to someone I didn’t know. Someone who wouldn’t judge and someone who wanted to help me.
‘I also found it very useful speaking with friends and family about how I was feeling.’
This project was supported by the Blagrave Trust.
*Some Fixers exceed the age range of 16 to 25 during the course of their project.
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