Thomas Blundell and Joseph O’Neill share their grief after the death of a friend as part of a new support resource developed by CRY in recognition of the impact a young sudden cardiac death has on friends.
Nothing can prepare you for the shock death of a friend.
When someone who was deemed to be fit and healthy has suddenly been taken away from you, it is easy to feel lost and confused.
Leading heart charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) has launched a powerful new booklet for young people learning to navigate their emotions following the sudden death of a close friend from a previously undiagnosed heart condition to coincide with its awareness campaign #CRY4Friends.
The booklet - A Friend’s Grief Following a Young Sudden Cardiac Death - has been compiled by CRY’s founder and bereavement counsellor, Alison Cox MBE.
It features 10 short chapters from 29 bereaved young people, including Thomas Blundell and Joseph O’Neill, from Lancashire, talking through his experience of coping with the gap his friend Tom Hardman has left, trying to adapt their lives without them by their side.
He became involved with CRY following the sudden death of Tom from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He was aged just 21.
Tom was a talented bowler and batsman and studying sports and exercise science at Leeds Metropolitan University – where he tragically died in November 2012.
He played for Heywood and Middleton Cricket Clubs and also appeared for Lancashire Cricket Club’s second team.
As part of his chapter, Thomas, 26, writes; “I was a pall-bearer at Tom’s funeral and that’s when it hit home. How can such a fit, energetic lad just die in his sleep? Afterwards everybody was reminiscing and celebrating his life. I struggled to come to terms with what happened and went through spells of being okay for weeks and months, but then suddenly it all came crashing back down. Every time I had a drink or went out it would all come flooding back. I was in denial and wanted everything back to normal, but how could it?”
Joseph O’Neill, 29, adds; “Losing a best friend is something you never get over and I’m so grateful that I got to spend so much time growing up with Tom but would give up anything to have another day with him. I look at life differently now, and take a lot less for granted, I live more for every day as you never know when it may be your last.”
The booklet is part of a wider campaign #CRY4Friends, highlighting the grief felt by young people when they experience the death of a friend.
CRY hopes this new initiative will encourage young people to share their memories and to talk openly about their grief.
The resource will also be available to read online or order for free, directly from CRY: http://www.cry4friends.org.uk.
The booklet forms part of the charity’s ‘grief library’, knowing that bereaved people find most solace and guidance from others who have been through a similar experience.
Alison Cox says; “Adolescence can be a rocky ride and having a trusted friend to discuss new experiences with and confront difficult decisions can greatly reduce anxiety. Having a special friend to talk to helps to stabilise the fast-changing world that seems to lurch around them which often affects their confidence and leaves them vulnerable. A good friend provides a haven of security and suddenly losing them can have a catastrophic effect on a young person.”
CRY also offers group support, so bereaved families and friends can connect with one another.
CRY has also launched a private Facebook group for young people who have lost a friend to a sudden cardiac death, to connect and share their feelings with others who have experienced the same sadness. This is in addition to private support groups for bereaved mums, dads, siblings and partners, as well as a group for anyone who has lost a young person to a sudden cardiac death.
Every week in the UK, 12 people aged 35 and under die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.
80% of these young people have no symptoms and so the only way to detect a potentially sinister abnormality is by having cardiac screening. CRY offers a free national screening service for people aged 14-35.
Fund-raising groups for these screenings in the area include Heartfelt, in Preston, /the-devastating-truth-about-young-sudden-cardiac-death-1-8234464
and Matthew Hesmondhalgh Memorial Fund in memory of Matthew, of Garstang, who died aged 22 in 2011. /couple-s-amazing-fundraising-for-heart-tests-for-young-people-1-8351577
#CRY4Friends. For more information visit http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/