A Coleraine student has been sharing her experience of bereavement in a new internet-based grief support initiative.
Prince Harry’s openness and straight-talking approach about the impact of his mother’s death 20 years ago is helping the nation to think again about how we handle loss.
In the last year alone, 41,000 children across the UK were bereaved of a parent (1,500 in Northern Ireland).
Victoria McCormick, from Coleraine, can relate to Prince Harry, and she does so eloquently in her blog on HopeAgain, a virtual community established by bereaved young people, for bereaved young people.
Victoria, who is studying at Queen’s University of Belfast, was just 14 years old when her dad died by suicide the week before Christmas, 2008.
“When I lost my dad at the age of 14, I remember the fear, anxiety and sheer panic of being forced out my front door to see my street flooded with family and friends. I can still remember the feeling to this day, and I couldn’t imagine how it felt for Harry and William to do that with the world watching,” she said.
Victoria (an only child) and her mother received support not only from family and friends but also from Cruse Bereavement Care.
And the final year Physics Masters student, who became the charity’s Youth Web Consultant, now supports bereaved young people from across the globe via Cruse Bereavement Care’s HopeAgain website.
The site welcomes up to 4,000 visitors per month. It is a place where young people feel comfortable to share their real-life stories of loss, grief and hope.
The interactive site, subtitled ‘Young People Living After Loss’, provides a rich resource for young people trying to find a way through their grief, as well as those adults who want to support them.
HopeAgain’s vlogs, email, personal stories, pictures and blogs give young people a voice about the things that trouble them most deeply, in the arena of online social media where they are often much more comfortable than in a counseling room.
In addition, it allows both website visitors and the team of young people running HopeAgain to connect with one another around vital issues.