Losing my brother: Five years on

Time feels like a strange concept when you’re grieving.

It feels fleeting, brief and sudden, like you’re racing against an hourglass, watching each grain of sand as it trickles away. And yet it some moments, it feels like an eternity.

I was only ever aware of this after my brother died.

In the early days of my grief, it was about surviving. It was about getting through a single day without collapsing from the weight of sheer panic and despair. It was all about trying to see that little glimmer of light at the end of a very dark and distant tunnel. You wonder how you’ll ever get through it.

Then time starts to feel like a large predator, grabbing at your ankles as you feel yourself slipping behind. You become more aware of the value of life when you lose someone you love. You realise the fragility of life and how every moment counts. There’s a pressure behind those thoughts that nobody seems to recognise until grief touches their family.

You feel like you owe it to your sibling to live your life to the fullest, to do all the things they wouldn’t do, to live in the moment and seize every opportunity that comes your way.

Last May marked five years since my brother died. It was the first anniversary where I had realised just how quickly the past few years had gone.

Most of those early years I don’t remember. Every once in a while, whilst I’m laying on bed struggling to go to sleep, a moment will flash by like a passing train. Inevitably it’s a haunting memory, the look on my brother’s face before he collapsed or the moment he was stretchered out from the back of an ambulance. But sometimes it’s a comforting memory. A simple, yet happy time when we were blissfully unaware of the pain that would consume our safe haven.

In December I turned 25. In the grand scheme of things, it rather an insignificant age. It’s not a milestone. Nobody gets a big birthday party or a special tacky glass or teddy bear to commemorate it, and yet for some reason I felt sheer panic in the pit of my stomach. It was like I’d woken up and noticed I’d slept in for too long. Five years had passed without my brother being alive.

You can’t blame people for moving on with their lives. I understand. But it doesn’t stop you from resenting it. The earth continues to spin on it’s axis, even when your world is falling apart.

I’m five years away from the moments I last spoke to my brother. Five years on since I last held him in my arms and told him I loved him, even though he was a pain, like most little brother’s should be.

The truth is that time doesn’t make it easier to deal with. If anything, sometimes it’s more difficult. When you first lose someone you love, you’re inundated with support. Cards and flowers cover every inch of surface within your home. Your notifications are constantly popping up, Facebook messages from school friends who are thinking of you or emails from family members with poems about love and loss. But what happens when the flowers wilt and die? What happens when the messages dry up and people move on?

We are left with an emptiness that will never quite be filled. Over time the pain is no longer as overpowering or unbearable. It’s more of a heavy weight that sits on your shoulders and seeps in to your being, becoming part of your DNA, your identity. Grief changes you. The pain reminds us of what we have lost, what we will never again find and how fragile life is. We wouldn’t change it. Although at times it’s more painful than words could ever express, it is who we are now. We carry it with us for the rest of our life, hoping we will find other human beings who are compassionate enough to notice our loss, respect our story and allow us to frame it on our wall, etch it into the tapestry of our life.

Five years without my brother may seem like a long time for those who haven’t lost a loved one. But for our family, we carry this grief with us for the rest of our lives. We are navigating a treacherous terrain and no matter how far we might get on this journey, there is still a chance we could slip or fall.

I have learnt time changes when you are grieving. It takes a new form.

I panic sometimes that another five years will go by in a flash, another five years without my brother’s voice or his smile will pass me so fast I can’t comprehend it. But one thing I do know for certain is that he will always be a part of my life and who I am. No matter what happens, he is always there, shaping who I am and who I want to be.

If you haven’t already listened, I did an episode about sibling grief for Beyond Today, a podcast by Radio 4. I shared my story alongside other bereaved siblings, including correspondent Matthew Price. I hope it’s helpful to those who need to talk about their grief:

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06w5z3m

Thank you,
Georgia

MK marathon races to success

This year marked another successful run for the Milton Keynes marathon with thousands of people lacing up their trainers for the event.

The marathon was started in 2012 by race director Andy Hully and will be one of the biggest events to happen in the year the town turns 50.

Andy said: “A lot of planning goes into this and there were 10,000 entries over all the events.

“Everyone wants to get in.”

He said 600 people volunteered their time for the event on May 1st and next year he would have to make the event even bigger to accommodate the rise in people who apply every year.

The event was also attended by Olympian Gail Emms and BBC Radio Two’s Jo Whiley who took part in the half-marathon event.

Jo Whiley said: “I live in Milton Keynes and I really love it.

“I ran with my husband and it was so good to go over the finish line holding hands with him.”

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MK Marathon holds four separate races which include the full and half marathon as well as a relay race.

This year the event also hosted a superhero fun run which saw over 1,000 people, including children, dress up to run the course.

It currently ranks in the top 10 marathons held in the UK.

The winner of the men’s full marathon was Gareth Cooke who crossed the finish lane in 2 hours 40 minutes and 8 seconds.

Asia Zmysolna was the first female to finish the course in 2 hours 57 minutes and 37 seconds.

Local charity Harry’s Rainbow were among the many local charities who took part in the full marathon.

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60 people ran for the charity to raise money for services which support bereaved children in Milton Keynes.

Odette Mould set up the charity after losing her son unexpectedly in 2009.

This year was her first time running a marathon.

Fun Exercises to Try at work

 

If Uni just isn’t for you! (Alternatives to University)

You are in your last year of sixth form or your college course. You’ve raced to finish your final projects or are revising furiously for your end of years exams, all while trying to figure out what exactly it is you want to do for the rest of your life. Then someone throws a spanner in the works.

SO, which University are you going to?’

Obviously, if you’ve even considered going to University, you’ll have already started the laborious (not to put you off or anything) task of submitting your UCA’s application. You’ll have written your personal statement, a page worth of basically bigging yourself up to the point of borderline pretentiousness, and entered your whole educational history, which is always a sad moment if your GCSE results were shockingly rubbish! (OK, mind weren’t that bad but they weren’t the best!)

ATTENTION KIDS, revise for your GSCE’s because no matter how smart your are, you can’t ‘wing’ an exam. Which is totally not what I did… at all…

After submitting your completed application to UCA’s you could be waiting for as long as two months to hear back as to whether you have a conditional place on the courses you’ve chosen.

It’s a bit like X Factor really, expect Simon Cowell probably isn’t judging your applications. That would be too easy.

It can be a very worrisome and stressful time for some young people while waiting to hear back from University choices as to whether you have a conditional/unconditional place. This, as well as other factors, can put many people off.

Yet University is still the main option and popular for the next step in further education.

There is a lot of emphasis on the fact that a degree will allow you better career prospects. And a lot of the time it will. But University isn’t always for everyone.

Costly tuition fees, living expenses and being away from home are just some of many reasons people turn down university in search for a more suitable alternative.

Always make the decision that’s best for you and your future. The older generation often never got the the chance to go to University so may push the idea of taking this path. As much as University is a lot more accessible, the lifestyle that comes with it will not suit every individual.

I rushed into going to University thinking it was what everyone else expected from me. Everyone I knew was going and I felt I’d be looked down on for not extending my knowledge from my college course.

Turns out, Uni life really wasn’t for me. The binge drinking, night owl way of life was really not for this little home bird who much prefers sitting in front of the box then dropping some shapes in the club  (and by shapes I mean slightly bending the knees to the beat of the music, I can’t dance, get over it)

There are a number of alternatives to University depending on the career path you wish to take. Here are suggestions for just a few options you could take and how they could help you.


Take a Gap Year

If you need some more time to think about your options, you can always apply to UCA’s for the year after and take a year out. When I say Gap Year I don’t necessarily mean travelling to Cambodia like a private school kid who wants to know how ‘the other people’ live. You can spend your year volunteering or find a part time job to get you a little extra money for if/when you do attend university. Either way, this is a great way to build work experience and makes for a stronger CV.

Go Part Time or Open

If you like the idea of continuing your studies but want it to be more felxible, especially if you have a job on the side, you could consider taking a part time course up (this is usually out of work hours) or an Open University course, which could mean you are only attending University once every two weeks, allowing you to studying at home in your own time.

Apprenticeships

In my personal opinion, this is probably the best alternative to anyone who enjoys studying but is put off by length and expensive courses. Apprenticeships allow you to ‘learn on the job’ as well as gain a qualification in your chosen subject, which is paid for by the Government/Employer. Work experience is invaluable and you can make money at the same time as studying. I will do a separate blog post all about apprenticeships!

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If you are more interested in experience and earning money you can find a job that does not require qualifications in further education. Some businesses even offer programs that will allow you to gain management positions so there is always an opportunity to move up within a company depending on the sector.

There are lots of different options rather then university that will be equally as rewarding in the long run and can allow you to find an amazing career. Make sure you look carefully at all your options and know you are happy. Not going to Uni or even dropping out if it doesn’t work out isn’t that big of a deal.

You’ll find what you are passionate about and love to do, even if it takes some time.

Georgia

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