Katrina Christopher by Erin Christopher- Coles

My name is Erin Christopher- Coles, I am twenty years old, studying child and adolescent mental health at university. And I lost my mum when I was five. Her name is Katrina and she died suddenly in her sleep, due to a condition called Brugada syndrome. We did not know anything about this horrible condition, which would soon become a daily worry for me and my family- all whilst grieving the loss of one of the most incredible women I was fortunate to spend five loving years with. The following years consisted of the family on my mum’s side being tested at multiple hospitals, which is still ongoing. Myself and my sister would have an ECG each year, which have all come back absolutely fine. I will forever have a special place in my heart for every doctor or nurse I have seen, because as I understand, it is such a complicated condition- plus they have to deal with my phobia of needles.

When I first lost my mum, I was very young but I could understand that she was not going to be around anymore. This is one of the hardest things to come to terms with, and although I say I understood it, I’m not sure I do even now. It is a confusing concept. And that is completely fine, the loss of someone who should be around for most of your life is a confusing one.

Losing a parent can make you feel lost, lonely, angry, just to name a few. That is all completely normal. The feelings that you feel towards the death of your parent are always completely validated, because it is your loss and you are dealing with it in a way which your body feels is natural. However hard this is, there are a few things that have helped me over the years I have not had my mum. My family and friends have been my absolute rock, throughout my whole life but even more so when it comes to grieving my mum. I urge any child who has lost a parent like I did, to surround yourselves with people who care about you and that you can talk to about how you are feeling. A good chat and a cup of tea can actually make you feel a lot better.

Another thing that has helped me massively is finding something that you are interested in, and for me, that was dance and school work (as boring as it can be). Exercise is an amazing way to project whatever you are feeling on the inside into physical energy. Dance allowed me to express the emotions towards my mother’s death into movement, something that made me feel very relieved and purposeful. School was definitely harder to get through, there were days when I woke up and just thought ‘what is the point?’. I cannot stress enough, that one day you will wake up and know the point. I ended up completing over two years of bereavement counselling- which is a whole other way in which I was helped to grieve for my mum. In my final session, I decided I needed to focus on my GCSEs- which when I had gotten myself into the mindset, really worked.

I also found immense comfort in the fact that I would now have someone with me, in spirit or however you’d like to see it, for as long as I live. As a child who lost a parent, you often hear the phrase ‘they will always be watching over you’- which I completely agree with. They are still with you every single step of the way. I may look a little strange when doing it, but it brings me comfort to speak to her as if she’s right in front of me. Writing down my feelings has always been a helpful outlet- don’t bottle your emotions up.

I apologise that this has been a bit all over the place- but I feel as if that is grief and loss summed up. Everything doesn’t feel quite right all of the time, but you have to remember that there is always somebody who is going through similar and there is always somebody you can speak to about it. If you take one thing away from my little ramble- please let it be that you are never ever alone. Losing a parent is seriously hard, it is something you can never ever prepare yourself for or ‘get over’- and rightly so. But it is also something that will make you so much stronger, even when you do not feel that strong. You have been through the absolute worst, and you are doing incredibly well. Keep yourself busy, surround yourself with family and friends who love and support you. Keep talking- talk about your feelings all the time. Take a day off if you need to- take care of yourself.