When the Headlines Become your Reality

Dealing with the Death(-by-Knife) of a Loved One (A Young Person’s Perspective)

You watch the news and think you’re safe, that your world is a world away from such matters, as if these types of things could never happen to you.

London. A place I – like many others – call “home”. A place that’s vibrant: it’s inhabited by people from all different walks of life. A place known as one of the world’s fashion capitals. A place that strives to be a city that never sleeps. London: a place I’ve always, to some extent, been happy – or dare I say somewhat proud (gasp!) – to live in despite its noted flaws. However, in the last few years, it’s safe to say that I’ve had more of a love-hate relationship with my hometown.

“Knife crime is on the rise in the UK’s capital”
“Yet another person has been stabbed to death in London”
London has a “knife crime ‘disease’” – Evening Standard, 2019

Recent British news headlines have been bombarding UK citizens with supposed and often scary facts and statistics about the rise of violent crime – i.e. stabbings – in London. Sadly, it’s become the norm to hear about – and/or even see – another life being taken away by –
what was designed to be – a mundane kitchen utensil. We watch in devastation as our social media feeds become flooded with “RIPs” and the infamous words “gone but never forgotten”. We cringe and flinch at the sight of our blood-stained streets. But the horrific reality of this epidemic only truly hits home when you become a victim of it; when the so-called “disease” directly attacks and affects you and/or your family. When this happens, these headlines, prayers and words of comfort seem to cut you up just as deep as the knife that inflicts these often severe/life-threatening wound(s) and unbearable pain in the first place. I know this feeling all too well because these headlines became a part of my reality back in 2018.

Now, for the sake of my sanity, I don’t want to go into my story too much. But, to cut a very painful story short: I am the daughter of a father who was attacked, stabbed – and to my despair – murdered. (I take a few deep breaths as I write this because even now, one year on, it still feels like it happened yesterday).

By this point, some of you may be wondering why I’m choosing to share my story, especially on a platform such as this. Well, for one, as the title of my blog post highlights, I am specifically here to discuss how it feels – as a young person – to lose a loved one by a knife. When the topic of “London’s knife crime epidemic” arises in the media, the microphones tend to be given to the victim’s parents and, of course, the government since they’re the ones who claim to rule the city. Although these voices undoubtedly deserve to be heard, there is – and has been – little-to-no coverage on the young people – those 25 and under sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends etc. – who have been directly affected by the issue. Secondly, The RealTalk Blog vows to “dig into the key topics affecting young people today”; it’s “written by young people for young people”, so what better a place for this post?

All in all, I decided to write this entry to reach out to those who are in the same/similar position as me – i.e. a young person who is battling with PTSD and, as a result, is finding it hard to get on with life, to get up every day. I see you. You are not invisible and you are definitely not alone.

You are not the only one who struggles to sleep at night because your mind is riddled with nightmares/flashbacks of the incident. You are not the only one who struggles to make sense of the world or anything anymore. You are not the only one who finds it hard to concentrate in school or university because your mind is busy elsewhere. You are not the only one who frequently experiences random outbursts of sadness. There are many side effects of losing a loved one by a knife at a young age. The ones I named above are merely the ones that I am currently battling with.

My dad passed away just before I received my second-year university results. Despite choosing to return to university for my final-year – if taking a gap year or dropping out of your studies to take some time out for yourself is best for you then, by all means, do just that – it has not been an easy ride. In fact, life, in general, has been a twisting, turning, bumpy rollercoaster ever since the incident occurred. My world feels like it has been turned upside down or, more specifically, I feel as if I am living in Thee Upside Down – for all the non-Stranger Things fans out there, that’s essentially an alternate world where everything is dark, gloomy and frightful. Many times I feel as if I am drifting, as if I am present but also not present. Many times I feel anxious for days on end. But I am not here to dwell on that. I am here to say keep going. Don’t give up on the dreams you had before the loss. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You can prosper. Your life is not over.

Unfortunately, there is no special remedy to help you deal with losing a loved one – whether by knife or not – at a young age. I’m still trying to process and figure things out myself. Nonetheless, here are three things that I recommend doing:

  1. Talk to someone about how you feel when you’re down. Be it a trusted peer or relative, be it a counsellor, therapist, your diary or – if you are of faith – God. In my opinion, bottling everything up can be detrimental to your mental health.
  2. Try to frequently engage in activities – namely hobbies such as watching your favourite TV series/film(s), going to the gym, dancing to music in your room (yes, that’s a hobby!) etc. – that make you happy. I make sure I do at least one thing that makes me content every day.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Many people have probably already told you this, but healing takes time. It’s ok not to be ok 24/7. It’s ok to take mental health days. Cry if you need to.

If anyone wants to reach out to me (you can do so anonymously if you wish), feel free to do so via the following:

Twitter: ashleyyfaith_XO
Email: ashleyfaithfontaine@gmail.com

Remember, you are not alone.

Much love,

Ashley Faith

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