A year ago today our lives quite literally transformed. Who would have thought, driving home for Christmas so excited belting out “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” to turn into the most painful and shocking night of our lives.
A year on without my big brother and quite literally, a day hasn’t passed by without thinking of Sam. Sometimes it’s funny thoughts like “boy he would be chuckling” and some sad like “oh I wish I could tell Sam that” but that’s missing someone and the grief process right?
This year has been a year of firsts. Birthdays, summer, Christmas. It has been a hard one and the most challenging year yet but I/we as a family had a choice to make: were we going to question why this had happened? grieve every single day for the rest of our lives and curl up in a ball, never leaving our rooms? or would we share Sam’s story to help others, to try make an impact in breaking the stigma of mental health. The latter is the option we went with and so far it has turned out to be a pretty good one!
I never thought a year ago today I would be running a website, a goal of mine for some years but especially not one based around mental health. We definitely couldn’t see past the facts of what had happened and not in a million years did we think we would have appeared on the radio, in the newspaper and on social media.
My highlight of this year has been the H.U.G event, which happened in October. Firstly, I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the night because all I could picture was my brother shaking and burying his head in utter embarrassment and secondly, because we managed to pack out the building with people who shared the same interest, raising awareness of mental health. With that we raised £3000 and were all just in shock for weeks after and overwhelmed of the stories and loved shared in just a few hours.
Friendships have been another highlight. Whether that be reconnecting with old friends, getting closer to those already around us or building up new relationships with the people closest to Sam. We have been blessed with them all and in some sense it has been quite overwhelming. Something I have loved and has really helped me is talking to Sam’s best friends. They remind me so much of him and having that big brother figure has been so comforting. I suppose it is quite sad that it takes an event like this to realise who your closest friends are, the people you know you can turn to no matter what, but I think we have all realised who they are and have made some lifelong friends through such occurrence. I can confidently say we wouldn’t be getting through the day to day with out you all, so thank you!
There are many positives and amazing things which have happened and are still happening but there have been some pretty rubbish days too. It may be a smell, Sams aftershave, something someone says that triggers everything to come rushing back. Even though it will never go away, it gets easier and how I specifically cope has changed throughout this year, even with it all being so raw still. Goodness knows what this next year looks like but I hope we can continue to raise awareness of mental health and more people can continue to seek help (another incredible thing that has happened this year, the amount of people, whether that be family members or strangers who have spoken out about their own mental health problems).
The most exciting thing I am looking forward to in this forthcoming year is running the London Marathon with my Dad in aid of two mental health charities. Who knows what we have let ourselves in for but every ache and pain we encounter is because we are both so determined to make a change and ultimately because we loved Sam so much and want to remember him in a unique way.
I am still, a year later, coming to terms with the loss of my big bro and I would say this Christmas season has been the hardest so far. Almost as if the shock has gone, but realisation is kicking in and you replay the events leading up to it. Everyone is talking about family time, what to buy their siblings or looking forward to their siblings coming home for the Christmas period. Yes, it hurts but also makes me so happy that people are so loving and looking forward to family time because that is the most important thing to me at Christmas and something I would say to anyone still with a sibling. No matter what you or they do, never stop showing your love for them and never take your family or even the day for granted because a normal day for me turned into a tragic one.
So, despite the difficulties this year has brought and the challenges still to come, I am determined to make this Christmas time a good one and do what my brother loved best at Christmas, which was be with family… oh and eat as much as you can on Christmas day.
Lots of love and hugs,