How Making Thrive Helped My Own Grieving Process

When Toby from Zest approached me to be in Thrive, he knew the project would be close to home. Thrive was going to be about trauma, how it affects us and how to journey through it. At the time myself and my brother were looking after my mum who was sick with Cancer at home. I told him my mum was my top priority and I will let him know when I can. He would always check in on me and my family and never pressured me to do the show. Toby texted me on my birthday wishing me a happy birthday and sending his wishes and love to my mum. Unfortunately, the day after my mum passed away. A few days after I rang my Agent and Toby telling them I won't be discussing my acting options for a bit and I went into my mourning stage. Every day got harder. Every hour I'd want to cry. When the funeral passed I realised I can't just sit at home and do nothing. Mum always pushed me into doing what it is that I love and to never give up. So I picked up my phone rang Toby and said "I'm Ready!" 

The research and development process of making the show really helped me face the death of my mum head on. At times it was really upsetting and one session I just burst out into tears and had to leave the room for a bit. Looking back on it now it really did help. I'm yet to thank everyone individually who was a part of the project for helping me. It's weird because, in all honesty, they treated me like a normal person, not like someone who just lost their mum and that really helped. Dan and Claire, who play Ashleigh and Ollie, lived with me during the R&D and they made it clear they'll be there to talk to me if I ever wanted to vent out. So I guess in writing I can say "Thank you to everyone who is apart of the Thrive project - I honestly have so much love for you all.”

During this time period, Toby asked us to bring in items that meant something to us or that we would like to feature in the show. I brought in a Rubik's Cube that belonged to my mum. It became a major factor to the play for my character and the story itself. I read somewhere that it is almost impossible to even list a Rubik's Cube's list of moves. I think the same can apply to life. Our life is a result from the choices we make or decisions we are influenced into doing. Same with a Rubik's Cube. We turn the squares because we want to fix it. Not only do we want to fix it but we want it done quickly! - That is what I believe to be our biggest problem in life. We all want that quick fix. Patience is what we need in life and the Rubik's Cube taught me that. Each face has a new obstacle, each turn has a new challenge and when you think you're nearly there it takes you out of your comfort zone. Who ever said you can't feel down or messed up some days? I believe it's about embracing everything that is thrown in front of you, face it head on then live and learn for the future. 

I believe everyone is different and unfortunately there isn't a step by step guide In how to deal with bereavement, but for me working on Thrive was a big part of it. In order to move forward you have to step back and honestly look at your options. Decide what it is you want from life, never forget the person/s you have lost and try to make them proud, but also make yourself proud! It might seem silly but it's okay to cry. I personally hate to show that I'm upset, but never feel ashamed that you are upset about negative experiences and loss, you have every right to be. I can feel myself getting upset as I write this, but the thought of my mum looking down on me and knowing I'm doing what I love gives me a warm feeling inside. 

I really hope the audience can take away these real life feelings that Thrive shows us. It doesn't say everything is going to be fine and it definitely doesn't say everything will be terrible. But what I get from it, and I hope the audience can also get, is the true sense of belief! Believing that your dreams can come true. Pushing for more in life and not sitting back. Knowing that you yourself are unique. Never forgetting the people we have lost or the struggle we have been through, but to take all that in and Thrive on life. 

I never went looking for specific help after my mum died but there is so much out there. Everyone is different and you have to find what is right for you. In our show the characters go and see Psychologist. This is one of many ways in which you can get help. Also, I believe this show can really help. It can definitely make you believe again, or even push you harder to what you want in life! Yes, parts of the play are upsetting, but like real life, parts of the show are also hilarious! It has that clever twist in emotions where in the end.......

Well, I guess you'll have to come see it :)

Thrive is touring nationally throughout Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017. For more information, including where to go for more help and advice, please visit the Thrive page.