When Enya Nicholl’s father Gerry died of pneumonia in March 2015, she was left bewildered, confused, anxious and grieving. Losing a loved one is exceptionally hard for anyone, but little Enya was just 12 years old. Her young age meant she could barely comprehend the deluge of emotions triggered by her father’s death. She bottled those feelings up because she didn’t know how to express them.
In Northern Ireland, four children a day lose a parent and, just like Enya, they struggle to deal with their grief. Thankfully, help is at hand. Cruse Bereavement Care are the UK’s largest bereavement charity. They offer free care and counselling for people who have lost a loved one.
Enya, mum Andrea, and Enya’s two sisters Nadia and Kerry-Lee joined Cruse’s Get Together – Bereaved Families Discovering programme. Get Together is a partnership project between Cruse and the Corrymeela Community, and back in 2014 it received £676,384 of money raised by National Lottery players to continue its fantastic work.
As part of the programme the family attended a residential weekend at Corrymeela in Ballycastle. For Andrea, who had been dealing with her three children’s grief as well as her own, this proved to be a tremendous relief.
“It was a weekend where the children remembered their Daddy, but had fun while still remembering,” says Andrea. “They were able to think of him in a happy way and it was the first time my children and I had really laughed in a long time.
“Being there also gave me time to sit back because since my husband passed away I hadn’t had time to sit back and take time for me.”
The programme gave Enya and her sisters time to express their emotions and realise they weren’t alone.
“At Corrymeela there were other children who had lost a Mummy or Daddy,” explained Enya.
“It was really, really good and it helped me a lot because it made me feel a wee bit better knowing that you’re not alone and it gave me time to think.
“It was good because you could talk to and listen to other children who had lost their Mummy or Daddy and it had taught me a lot because I learned how they coped. We also did things like art work and on Father’s Day we set off balloons to help us remember.”
Enya is now the youngest volunteer at Cruse Bereavement Care, where she helps other young people who are going through the same thing as she experienced with the message ‘you are not alone.’ Enya is part of the Hope Again youth team, helping develop Cruse’s youth website (www.hopeagain.org.uk)
“I thought it was hard for me so I thought if I talked and did the video for Cruse that it would be good for me and other people because I was letting other people know how I felt and so I was helping myself by doing that and it also made me feel really happy that I did it.
“I would still like the chance to help others because I know what they are going through and how important it is to talk to people who understand.”
For more information about the work Cruse Bereavement Care are doing in Northern Ireland and beyond, check out their website: https://www.cruse.org.uk/northern-ireland