Learning To Grieve: George Shelley



My sister affected every single
human that she came across in such a positive, radiant way. A year ago today, my life changed. A year ago today, a lot of people's lives changed. What's your name? George Shelley. How old are you? I'm 18. And what are you going to sing for
us today? I'm going to sing Toxic by Britney
Spears. Oh, interesting. Go for it. # With the taste of your lips I'm on
the ride… # I was at university studying graphic
design and I just decided to audition for
X Factor. It just completely changed
everything. Within weeks, I was in a boyband
called Union J and it was the most amazing
experience of my life. Union J! We, like, had two studio albums, had, like, a number of top-ten
singles… Hello, Wembley! ..went around the world, went to America to record the second
album in LA. And it was just like a whirlwind,
a complete whirlwind. I went from being this kid who kind
of just sat at home on his computer designing graphics all the time to all of the sudden being
in the public eye. I went on well-known TV shows like
I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Then I went on to become a presenter
on breakfast radio for Capital Breakfast. You know, the only thing that's
getting me through this is the fact that I have Kung Fu Panda chopsticks
in my hand. I was going to say,
he's got them ready. And then, in the spring of 2017, my
life completely flipped upside down. My sister Harriet passed away… ..to a freak road accident, which… ..um… It was like somebody… ..like… It's like someone just turned all
the lights off in my head. 2017 was the loss of a lot of
things. I lost my relationship and my job. Everything kind of came crashing
down. I got myself in a really dark place. I locked myself in my room and I cut
all my friends out, cut my family out. I turned my back on writing because
I was finding it hard to get through songs without getting
upset. I mean, the last time I performed
was just before I lost Harriet and she was there and… ..that was my last gig. One of your initial thoughts… ..er… ..one of my initial thoughts when I
lost my sister was, no, I don't like saying that, it makes
me fucking freak out. What, when…? When I say that. When you say what? When I'm like,
when it's just like, I've lost… It's just hearing it, do you know
what I mean, out of my mouth? Thinking about it just sends my mind
into overdrive. Talking about this is going to be… For God's sake.
Can I get some water? Sorry. In all honesty, this is going to be
probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Speaking about this publicly is not
something that… ..is going to be easy at all. But the idea that it could help me
come to terms with what happened and maybe help others, then I'm up for doing it. I know part of grief is going back
to your childhood. These things are so important to do,
going through the grieving process, because it helps you accept what's
happened. So, this is one of the streets,
like, one of the streets because there's a lot of streets
that I grew up on, but this is one of them and it has two houses in it that I
lived in with my sister and my mum and my big
brother Will. I literally remember climbing out
of that window during a fight with Harriet over pizza! Looking back to it now, I'm just
like, "What were you doing?!" I remember every day…. Fucking hell,
it feels so long ago now. It's easy to just kind of say
Harriet was a beautiful girl, but she was so caring and loving
towards everybody. Her beauty, it was internal and it
affected a lot of people. She started anti-bullying campaigns
at school. I know a lot of the students at the
school used to pick on the caretaker, but my sister was always so lovely
to him. And now the caretaker… ..tends to my sister's grave and always talks about how beautiful
she was as a person. I guess you could say she was a role
model for me… ..in a lot of ways. I mean, she was going to move in
with me in London. She was moving from here to London
just so that she could be with me and we were both looking forward to
it so much. Which is part of what I'm grieving, I guess, is the future that we were
all going to have together. The one thing that I find hardest to
talk about is the actual accident and the sequence of events
that took place. After I got past wanting to forget
about it all, I've really tried to kind of piece
things together. Harriet was on a night out in
Bristol… ..celebrating the end of her exams. When they were in the queue,
queueing for the venue to get in, Harriet had obviously drank a lot
and she needed a wee. She walked out between a parked bus
and a lorry and there was a car coming. The car wasn't speeding,
it wasn't anything to do with them, but it did brush past her and she fell back and hit her head. I was just home visiting my family. I got a phone call from one of my
sister's friends, and I answered it and it was… ..it was a police officer and
he said, "Is this George Shelley?" And… I could tell in the tone of his
voice, almost instantly, I knew that it wasn't good and… He just said, "You need to get to
Southmead Hospital "as soon as possible." "Your sister's been hit, she's been
involved in a road accident." And, in that moment, I didn't want
to be George Shelley then… ..at all. It was just the worst… ..night of my life. Even when we got to the hospital, we
didn't, we didn't… ..we didn't know how things
were going to play out. I was the intensive care consultant
on the unit for the week that Harriet was
admitted. She was admitted with an isolated,
but extremely severe head injury. Multiple skull fractures and damage
to both sides of her brain… ..front and back. Unfortunately, with Harriet, her brain damage was extremely
extensive and progressed during those first
few days, despite our best efforts. The pressures in Harriet's head
became very high and it became obvious with
monitoring her and further scanning that this was going to be an
irrecoverable brain injury. Emotionally, it can be hard, particularly when you have a case
like Harriet, who was young, fit and vibrant… ..and was training to be a midwife, so she was training to come into the
fold in the NHS, as it were. And seeing the grief of her family
was hard, and going through that journey with
them is hard. We all grieve differently. Discussing how you're feeling – that
can be very difficult for young men. And if you're not talking to your
friends and you're not talking to your
family, then you can become increasingly
isolated – and I think that's a really
big deal. I've been taking antidepressants now
for ten months. You know, I don't want to be on them
forever and I know I won't be. They're just crutches. They are helping me, I can't deny that, and I'm not
really afraid of saying it because it's the truth. There is a period of time from sort
of the end of last year that I found myself punching a lot
of stuff in fits of rage because I was just so angry about
what had happened. All I can remember from that period
of time was just… ..darkness, and I just sank deeper and deeper
into depression. My flatmate Emily has been there for
me during the darkest part of this. We met at college and then you started becoming
friends with Harriet, and I got really jealous! Yeah. She sort of… George introduced me
to Harriet and I was just like, "This is another girl version of
me." Literally. And, like, it was
just, like, I've always wanted like a little
sister to dress with and stuff. Because we talk about Harriet a lot, like, every day and we'll think of,
like, all the good times. The whole thing with this is there is no right way of dealing
with this pain. You just need to know that there is
support there and that's what you've been for me
really, like, when I was locked up in what is now
your room with the blinds shut. I was still out of it, I was still going to work and I was
still going to uni. It was the realisation of coming
home, you are still in bed and that's,
like, not like you. There was just no… ..fight left in you almost. You lost your sort of passion for
the world, and your drive to succeed
and create and stuff. Like, it was… ..really, really, really, really
dark. Seeing you like that just… ..erm… ..scared me so much. It gave me… ..the strength to, like,
support you because I felt… ..like I'd already lost Harriet,
I could not lose you and that was where you were going. So, I had to… It wasn't until one morning I came
out of the bathroom. I got up before sunrise, I came out and I looked out the
window and the sunrise was coming in
through the window and it looked beautiful. And it was like, whoa! There's loads of colour in my room and I hadn't seen it, but it had
been there for a long time. And that's one of the things with
depression, you could have all this colour
around you, and all of this love and light and
help, but if you are suffering, it just desaturates everything. And it wasn't until that morning I
started seeing, seeing the colour again,
and that's when I knew that it was going to be that that helped
me through this. So, I went on to start a
project that I did called Window Into Mynd. This was like something that I did
to help me communicate what it was like dealing with loss
in a visual way, in like a graphic way,
so I didn't have to speak. It was therapy because I was using
colour, I was working with colour, and I was just doing what felt right and that's how you should
use colour therapy. And this is all six of the videos
together. When you play them all at once, it's like a virtual experience of my
mind coping with the trauma. WHISPERING SOUND EFFECTS You are hearing all these sounds and
whispers and noises and boof, boof, and each one of them, it's like
being hit again by the grief. Sometimes, when you wake up in the
morning and it's just, like, you open your eyes, it can be, boof,
straight in your face. That's what it…it feels like almost every time I see a picture of
my sister. It just doesn't feel like a year. I can't remember half of it. The sun has been on it all day and
now it's just gone into shade. It looks beautiful, Mum. Where should we put these, then? Round the back somewhere? Tuck it in… By the angel? Those white roses –
put them in front there. It just shows how much she was
loved, doesn't it? Bit special, our Harriet. Aren't you, sweetheart? A bit special. I spend hours here. But I'm learning, slowly, not to be burdened with having to be
here, to be more selective. There was a time, I'd say about… ..eight months, two, three times a
day, I'd have to be up here and I'd just stare. It's sort of become more a place of
sanctuary now, where I come. It's not everybody's way of dealing
with it, but it's my way and it might be over
the top, I don't know, but I can buy presents and put them
there. I can go places and buy her
something. You talk about it so beautifully and
that's one of the things I struggle with – is getting the words out
because it's all here and I feel it all, but it's like getting it out because, as soon as
you are saying it, it's almost like you have to
believe it. I think, really,
if I could sum it up, dealing with grief
and how I deal with mine… ..is about being in control of it. If you are in control of it… Your own grief.
And you understand it, you understand what's happening to
you and that there are no rules, there are no boundaries, you can be how you want to be and
you control it. Yeah. I feel like that's really
important because, when this happened to us, I almost wanted to take control of
your grief for you. Do you know what I mean? Be like, "Mum, you need to do this
and be like this" – and try and help you with it. But, in reality, all I was doing was
not noticing what I was going through with it
as well. And, like, we haven't spent
every day… ..grieving it… ..and getting ourselves…
I'm sorry, my mind goes off on one. You can't go around being
grief-stricken all the time, but you are allowed moments. And if you allow yourself those
moments, you know, you talk about having courage and
being brave and everyone says you've got to be strong and
sometimes being strong I think can be misconstrued. Because you can see being strong as,
"I'm tough, "this isn't affecting me and I'm
getting on." But being strong is breaking your
heart and crying… ..and then doing. You have to keep on doing. We were lucky to have had her. We've got each other, haven't we? I didn't know what to expect from an
anniversary at all. It's painful, but… ..I'm glad we did it. I'm actually, to be honest with you,
just really proud of my mum for speaking about it in the way
that she did and to sit there and be so strong. To see her sat there after seeing
the way she's been over the last year, like… ..I'm just so proud of her. Dealing with grief is hard for
anybody, on any level. I know that young people in
families that have suffered loss, it can be referred to as forgotten
mourners. One of the first things that you
think is that you are alone, 100%. Even though you've got your whole
family going through the same
thing… ..you do still feel like you're
alone. You're not. And there are so many people going
through it, and so many people have dealt with trauma and have
dealt with grief. I want to meet people that have gone
through similar things and see how they've coped with it, and tally them up against what I've
done to deal with it. Hey! Hello. Beth, how you
doing? I'm George. I'm great. Lovely to meet you. No worries, come on in. So this is the scrapbook that I made in the few months after Mum had
passed away. When I lost her to cancer, I was 20
at the time, so I'm 23 now and… ..it was such a confusing and
isolating and bewildering time. I just didn't really know what to
do, so I just kind of buried myself in
this. Whether you are creative or not, it's really important to have
something.. Yeah. ..that is, like,
making you be quite active… Yeah. ..in processing what's
happening and in grieving. Did you find it hard to make this? Sometimes I found it really
challenging, realising that, like, I'd never see
my mum in her garden again – that's really sad – but it was also such a cathartic
process. Yeah. It's getting me emotional. Aw! Sorry, I didn't want to make you
emotional. No, you're not, it's just beautiful to see what
you've done. Aw, thanks. How long did it take you to, like,
finally accept it? Like, did you go into denial at all
or anything like that? I feel like for the first few months
I was definitely in a state of, "This isn't happening, there's no
way that this could be happening to
me." How long did that period last for
you? I can feel myself coming out of it
now and, like, kind of, seeing a bit
of light at the end of the tunnel. But I can still feel the… Yeah. I had all the emotions. So someone told me about the five
stages of grief, but what they didn't say was that
it's not five ordered stages – one, two, three, four, five. OK,
yeah. It's like all five and then three…
Yeah. ..and then one… And they come in cycles? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And they just keep coming. And so my mental health really
suffered. There was times where I did
consider what the point of life was, and I don't want to say I was
suicidal because I think that's
further than I was. But I was thinking, "How on earth,
how do I live…?" How am I going to do this?
I just don't think I can. Not even that you can,
but do you want to? It's like, I don't want to do this
any more. Do you know what I mean?
Exactly. The thoughts run through your head,
they're not suicidal thoughts,
but it's just like… ..and it's like, why, why was it
that person? Why couldn't it have been me? Or
like… Yeah, and I kept having these
horrible dreams, like, reliving Mum dying, that other members of my family were
going to die. I didn't go and see anyone at the
time because I just thought, "I'll just deal with this…" Yeah.
"..it's my thing." And then last year I started
fainting and thought,
"What's wrong with me?" Yeah. And my doctor said, "I think you are
having panic attacks." What did they diagnose you with?
What was your…? I was diagnosed with depression and
anxiety, so it wasn't just depression. I was quite like, erm, yeah, I was
having these panic attacks and I was
quite… I can relate to that. ..yeah, like,
stressed and I went to see a
private counsellor, who was amazing. She said, "Oh, you're
starting to grieve now." And I was like, what? Two years
later? I've been grieving for two
years. Yeah, what the hell? And she said, "No, that wasn't
grief, like, you were delaying it. "You were sad, but this is when
grief really starts." How did that make you feel? I was like, "Oh, no!" You must have
been like, "You have no idea!" Do you know what I mean? "What do
you mean, I've only just started?"
Yeah. I think I thought that grief was
like being sad. Yeah. Oh, I've done that, ticked that box,
great, can move on. You started your support group for
people aged 16 to 30 – why was it that age group that you
felt didn't have as much support
available to them? I mean, I just trawled the internet. There was support for children,
there was support for adults, as I liked to call them,
people older than me, who had maybe lost a partner or lost
a child. We know there's lots of charities,
kind of, talking about mental
health, lots of organisations who do support
people. But for that age group, 16 to 30, I thought, there's clearly a gap
here and there is clearly like a bit of a
niche, so that's why I kind of set-up
Let's Talk About Loss. It was, like, originally a blog, so it was a good place for me to
just write about how I was dealing
with my grief, how I was processing it,
all that kind of stuff. So anyone can submit their story.
Mm hm. They can just e-mail it to me and
I'll, yeah, like, just publish it and share their
story. I love what you have straight on the
home page, Let's Talk About Loss, and then the slogan,
Talking Through the Taboo. Seriously, Beth, what you've done
here is just so admirable. To do this for so many other
people… I hope that more and more people
will start to see this. Yeah. This is what motivates me every
single day. What is the point of my mum dying? I can't find a reason. So, what I'm going to do instead is
do my best to make this, like, horrible, rubbish situation into
something really good because otherwise… ..everything just seems pointless.
Mm-hm. And I just can't see, like,
the light at the end of the tunnel. It's been really nice to speak to
somebody who's coped so well. Like, she's really managed and she's
really come up with her own coping
mechanisms. I feel like it's just
beautiful to see somebody, after having such a tragic loss, creating support networks for this
age group, 16 to 30. Yeah, it's calming to know that
inspirational women like
Beth are out there doing it for us. I've always turned to music,
throughout my life, to kind of deal
with things that I'm going through. That's why I've started doing music
again because it's the only way I
can… ..describe fully how I'm feeling, not only with the words but
everything about it. I wrote this song because it was the
only way of me answering the
question – are you OK – without actually having
to say anything. # Didn't think we'd end up like
this # I'm sorry that I made you all
those empty promises # I wish I took advantage of it now # Because you're gone and all I'm
wanting is you # I wish we hadn't stayed on our
phones # Cos now that remains is one
heartbreaking camera roll # Nothing I can do can bring you
home # I'm by myself and this is so hard
to do # But you've got to lose # To find # To know that it was beauty the
whole time # You left me with a bruise on my
mind # But now you're gone # It's all I want
is to get you back so we can have # One more dance,
one night to make more plans # I'd trade a million moments for
one more memory # Of you by my skin that just is
paper-thin # But I'll just tell myself it's all
right # You've got to lose to find… # So, we've come to see my dad in
Nottingham. My mum and dad broke up when I was
four, so I didn't get to spend as
much time talking to Dad as I'd have liked to growing up, and it made it particularly hard
after we lost Harriet because I wasn't used to talking to
Dad. So this is something I've had to get
used to, just as I've had to get used to
talking about grief. Hopefully, this is going to be a
cathartic experience for me… ..and for him, as well. Hey, Dad. How are you doing?
How are you? Good, yeah, not bad.
Everything good? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thanks for doing this for me, Dad,
though, because I know how hard it
is for you cos… No, it's good. If it helps people,
it's cool. Which bread do you want?
Oh, yeah, brown. Brown. Put them back. Do you want
some garlic bread, yeah? Two years ago, he had a serious
motorbike accident which paralysed
his left arm. He suffers brain damage as a result
of it. All of the nerves to my arm have
come away from my spinal-cord… ..so there's nothing here to here. How does it look now?
I've not seen it. It's all thin and… ..there's not much to it.
You just can't feel anything? No, it's completely numb but the
pain is intense. It feels like it's being burned or
in a bowl of boiling fat. OK, it's really,
really hideous pain. Your injury, from what you see, you see the arm straight away and
you could be like, this is an injury, this is a problem
you are dealing with,
but with mental health, nobody can see that.
It's invisible and this is far more
serious than that, and that's how invisible it is. Honestly, it's just like different
worlds. People understand physical
disability, but not mental health. We're coming up to two years now
since you had your accident and life's just completely changed
for you, hasn't it? My life is massively different on
every angle. I was a busy, busy, busy criminal
barrister and a very, very full
family. And then suddenly, on my motorbike
one day, I got hit… ..and it changed in a second. I lost my career, I lost my arm, I lost my mind and then,
on top of it, Harriet. The depression was bad,
it was really bad. I went into deep cycles of… ..a couple of days a week of wanting
to end it. You know, just… How do you deal with that? What do
you do on a daily basis to get you
through? You know, I went to a counsellor,
therapy counselling. Talking allows your mind to process
and deal with it. And you'll find, if you talk about
it, actually, you find the answer. When you can just recognise suddenly
that actually, "Do you know what,
Dom? "You are in a little bit of a cycle
right now and in a couple of days
you'll be back up." I just miss Harriet so much… I know, I know, I do. You need to process and settle that
part in your mind, you know? It's going to be hard. It's going to be really hard. I just feel like a completely
different person, Dad. I almost wish I could just go back
and, like, change so many things. No… That's never going to happen
and that's what I need…
No, no, no. ..is I need you here to say no,
because that's just… ..as soon as I get into that
headspace, it's a downward slope. George, come on. You can spend your entire existence
going back, thinking, I wish,
you know? "What if I'd phoned her…five
minutes before? "What if I was there, what if we
done this, what if we done that?"
You know? Stop. Stop. It's just haunting yourself. She was a beautiful, beautiful soul,
you know? That's what we can remember and talk
about. And maybe, if you process it that
way, maybe… ..the blackness, the darkness that
is haunting you will just move to the side a little bit,
you know, and find its way out. It's happening again. I know. It's OK. Just last time you were here, we
both saw a Ford Ka, a silver Ka, and we both went, Harriet! And that's what I'm talking about,
you can keep her alive,
keep her in your soul. Yeah. We miss her in our hearts,
but she's still with us… ..in our hearts and in our memories. So, this is The Salthouse Pub. This is like one of the most popular
pubs in Clevedon, but it was my sister's favourite
place to go on,
like, the weekends and all of her mates would come here
and I have so many memories out
here, just… .. well, I can't really remember
them. I guess that's part of it,
right? So this is, erm… ..this is the cherry blossom tree
that we had planted for Harriet. And on it it says, "Harriet Ann
Shelley, aged 21 years, who loved
this pub, "who is loved and missed so much by
so many." And this tree, every year, is going to bloom with some
beautiful pink flowers. It's just something for us to
remember her by, so, every time that the tree
flourishes, we'll remember how beautiful she
was. I remember really wanting to grow
taller than her and she, like, hit puberty before I
did and she grew up really fast and she got really tall and she
became really beautiful, and I was still, like, a little tiny
runt. And I used to stand back-to-back
with her in the mirror and like mark it, and I was like,
"I'm taller than you now." And she was like, "No, you're not." She was almost, in a sense,
my big sister for a couple of years,
you know? She was a lot more advanced socially
than I was. She knew how to handle
social situations. She taught me a lot about how to,
sort of, interact with peers and
stuff that I didn't necessarily… ..know how to do. There's certain things about losing
a sibling that feel unique and one
of the questions for me was, like, are there other people in my
position that feel that way? You know, why is it different losing
a sibling to losing a daughter or, you know, a cousin?
How is it different? So, you've all got a jar. Just take one and pass it round,
yeah? ALL TALK OVER EACH OTHER This is a beautiful place and
we've never actually met before, but there's one thing
we all share in common, which is we've all
lost siblings and loved ones. And that's something we
try and talk about, about how we can move forwards
without our brother or sister physically being there,
but still with a bond and that continuing bond is
a really important thing, that you don't just
see it as a loss, that the relationship does continue.
Yeah. I don't know about you guys, but I really struggled to
go through my camera roll, or to go through pictures
and even just opening the photo app was just like, "I can't." Yeah. That's a massive part
of your life, isn't it? I remember taking a picture of
my brother when he was in hospital. At that point,
we didn't know he was going to die, so I just thought I was taking a
picture of my brother sleeping in the hospital. Then obviously, after he died, you look through your phone
and you see this picture. It's stuff like that
that triggers you and, even years down the line, you see stuff like that
and it all comes back to you. It's only been four months and
I just can't watch videos cos, like, he had
the dirtiest laugh – the most infectious laugh – and to hear that,
I just know I be, like, a mess. I think it's amazing you came
so early on. Yeah, it really is. I don't think I could have done
that. I'm so full of admiration that
you got yourself here and opened up. Cos it's such a confusing time. I couldn't imagine coming
somewhere like this straight away, but how much it must
have helped you. It really made me feel like
I'm not alone, but also that what I'm feeling is normal, like,
everything I'm feeling is normal. I don't think I said
my sister's name for a good five months
afterwards, like, in a way that I felt confident
saying it, until I was just by myself
at home one day and I just started going, "Harriet!" Like calling her because I missed
shouting for her up the stairs. I miss that so much.
Do you know what I mean? Those little things that you're
never going to do again. I feel like, if you just
keep doing them and remembering… I'm sorry. Do you feel the same?
Yeah, completely. Yeah, I do find it really hard to
say his name cos it doesn't feel right… But, yeah, I miss that so much. I don't know if you've had this
thought, but the person I most need to talk to about my brother dying
is obviously my brother! I get that all the time. The only person I would turn to
would be my sister because she was so on my level
with everything, and like instant,
solid, good advice, as well. And that's why
this is so important. Just getting to the point
where you feel comfortable to talk with someone and that's just
a circle of help going on here. I love it. Coming to a location where a lot
of people are getting together to talk about grief, in my head, I had kind of built up
a lot of worries about it. I didn't know how comfortable
people were going to be speaking about loss, but I'm in such
a calm, tranquil place right now. I've spent the day speaking to… ..people who are in
the same position as me, who can articulate their emotions, and that's something that
I've really struggled to do. You can do this. Hang on. Where's the gentleman gone?
Thank you. I love all the charms. It's a little H on the front.
I love it. It's so cute. I'm feeling like a lot of weight has been lifted off my shoulders
from today. I feel light. Mum. Hiya. I'm home. Hello. Hello. Mum? Hiya. Hi. Hello. You OK? Yeah, I'm all right. Good. Who's that? Who's that? How have you been, anyway? I went to a retreat. A retreat? Yeah. It's been set up for siblings
who have lost siblings, so you go if you've…lost a
brother or sister, but it was just really special to
see everybody talking about it. Do you want a bit more coffee
in that? Is that a bit weak? No, that's fine. Sure? Thank you. Cheers. Do you want to
go sit in the lounge? Yeah. Come on, Arthur. Was there anybody there
that were further down the line than, say, we are? The people that were
further down the line were more comfortable speaking about
it and they knew the right words. It's almost like
they had the literacy, they just spoke
so well about everything. But… ..it's definitely helped.
It is helping you, I can tell. It is, massively.
A lot better than you were. Yeah. A lot. Yeah. Do you like my daisies
in Harriet's sanctuary? Yeah, where did you get them?
I got them along the river bank. You nicked them. They were coming out
of someone's fence. Oh! Is that her diary? That's her diary,
which I was going to give to you. Really? For me? Yeah. You sure? Yeah. "I'm very busy."
Cos she was, wasn't she? Thank you, Mum. I wasn't ready
to have this, but now I am. I don't think I would have
been able to handle it before, but I just feel like I've
taken a couple of steps forward in knowing how to handle stuff. You know why I want you to have it? No. If you go to June, and there you are,
"Move to George's" with a heart. Are you all right? I shouldn't have done that.
I didn't want to upset you. No, it's not… It's just… It's just her handwriting. Yeah. Sorry. Do you want to put it away? No. It was just so close to it,
do you know what I mean? It was a week before she was
going to move in with me. It's just completely
changed my life. I was really looking forward
to her moving in, as well. Do you know what I mean?
We had our whole future. Like, we'd literally just planned
everything and it was such a shock. And this is why it's so important
to talk about it and get the help, because my mental health
just plummeted… ..because it was such a shock and there was no-one to tell me
that it was, like… That all the crazy shit I was doing
was a reaction to grief. Hey, come on. Definitely, towards the last sort of
five years of Harriet being around, we were pretty much inseparable. I guess me and my sister
really became close when I opened up to her
about my sexuality. She was one of the first people
that I told I was gay. I was suppressing my sexuality
for a really long time and a result of that was
an extreme case of anxiety. After Harriet passed away,
I was seeing a psychiatrist. He was able to connect the dots
and say, "Look, this is grief
you are going through, "but what's unique in this case
is you've got a lot of suppressed "mental health issues
that you haven't confronted." The anxiousness is deep-rooted. I spent a lot of time
hiding away my sexuality because I was in a boyband
for four years of my life that… ..were selling records
to young, teenage girls and they needed us to be
products for the girls. You're selling songs and… ..I didn't want to jeopardise… ..like, anything for
the band by being…gay. We were going to
a premiere and… The DMs with the socks pulled
up halfway and you were like, "You look like a lumberjack."
He looked like a gay… What is going on here? I still struggle to believe
I'm the only gay member of Union J after this picture. We already had a gay member, Jaymi, but I felt like if two members
of the boyband were gay, it would change
the perception of the band and people's perception of me. I spent four years
being somebody that I wasn't. It really fucks with your mind, it really, really
messes with your mind. And anxiety and the paranoia… ..amplified. It got worse. I was terrified that people were
going to try and out me and that's what ended up happening. I was almost had my arm
twisted on coming out. Would I have made the decision to
come out when I did… ..if that wasn't the case? I don't know. I feel like it definitely
pushed me into doing it. RADIO STATIC London's number one music station. Hello, I'm Dave Berry. My name is George Shelley.
I'm Lilah Parsons. Capital Breakfast.
It is your Friday morning. RADIO STATIC I was working on Capital Breakfast
as a radio presenter, with Dave Berry and Lilah Parsons
as my co-hosts. Hey, how are you? I'm good. Hello, gorgeous.
You look so good. This is nice. I'm so glad to see
you. Where am I sitting, here? Yeah. They were so supportive through everything I was going
through at that time. Thank you. I remember you sort of
having to leave the studio occasionally and go for a little
talks and things because you were being put under all this stress
to come out. Certain journalists had heard
stories and were digging, and I thought there was something
really nasty going on. I don't know whether
I would have done it if I wasn't put under the pressure
in the situation I was in. Yeah, you definitely were
under a lot of pressure. I remember someone wanted you
to give an exclusive and do this big expose in a paper
and you said, "Absolutely not. "It's not something I want to get
paid for. It's not a…" Exactly. "..big showbiz news story,
it's my life." Then you decided to come out. You did it so beautifully,
so articulately, and expressed yourself so well,
but in a really natural, easy way. As I said to you at the time,
and as I said on air, as well, I think it was a brave thing to do, but anybody's sexual preferences,
including your own, is absolutely of no concern of mine. The biggest concern I had with you was why you went through most of
the Union J years with a full perm and no-one ever said
anything to you about that. They wanted me to look like
a certain other member from a certain other boyband. Obviously, we all have friends who
are gay and we all have friends who have come out, but they've done
it in their own time and they've done it privately and to
their friends and their family. So to have that whole whirlwind
surrounding you, you know, I had sympathy for you doing that and then I had
massive respect for you. I was keen to talk about it
and felt it deserved… We needed to put it on the show. It was really comforting for me, the fact you almost went straight on
air and you kind of just said it and told the world straightaway, and that was like a massive stepping
stone for me because then you saying it just
normalised it and it was like, actually, this isn't as much
of a big deal as it's become. It shouldn't have to be
this much of a big spectacle. Exactly. You say we kind
of helped to normalise it, which is a nice thing
for you to say, but that's exactly what this is. You know, we're friends
and this is your life and who you love is up to you. That's why I wanted to come and see
you today, just to give you a hug and say well done, and
I love you, and you know. Come on then, where's my hug? You can't offer a hug
and not give it. So, you know, yeah, well done. POP MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC STOPS So what are we going to do now? I think everyone's subconsciously
relying on the mirror. They're looking at the mirror,
they're looking at each other, so we need to do it without the
mirror. Sure, so it gets tighter? Yeah, spatial awareness
and all that. I've known for a little while that
I'm going to be performing at Pride on the seventh of July. It's been the light at the end of
the tunnel for me and to have that to work to
and train for, I guess, that's been the distraction
and that's been massive therapy. It's helped me so much. Standing on stage at Pride,
I'm just… ..I'm doing what is making me proud, I'm doing what's
making my family proud and I'm doing what's going to
make my sister proud. Brill. It's a lot of work,
isn't it? I mean, the last time I performed
was just before I lost Harriet and she was there. I can remember that whole
performance and it was something that I'd worked on for so long. Her face when I came off,
she was just always beaming and… ..part of me is excited to perform
again because I feel like I'm going to get offstage and… It's things like that that really
connect me with her and my memories of her, so…I've been terrified
about it because I'm like… ..am I going to emotionally be able
to keep everything together and hold everything together? I want to give a good performance,
I want to be like… But I know that the whole time all
I'm going to be thinking about is getting offstage and,
like, seeing everyone and there's just going to
be one person that… ..isn't there and that's something
I'm going to have to deal with, but I can't let that fear of
being scared of not seeing Harriet after it, I can't let that
stop me from doing it. Please make a lot of noise
and welcome to the stage, Sir Ian McKellen!
CHEERING It's my great pleasure
to introduce my friend. He escaped from the jungle, he escaped from Union J. Welcome George Shelley!
CHEERING Thank you. Guys, thank you! Hello! I'm so excited to be performing
my brand-new track – Technicolour. Yeah! Hope you enjoy it.
This is Technicolour! # Oh, when the world's mean come # Preaching all the hate on everyone # I know you'll have my back # Cos our love is in technicolour # It's not white or black # Cos our love is in technicolour # Cos our love is in technicolour # Cos our love is in. # Thank you. She was here, wasn't she? Did you enjoy it? Are you OK? Are you crying? I just feel like it's been
building up for so long and now all of this, like,
pressure has just gone. But it was good pressure,
it's what's got me going, it's what's got me fighting. I'm buzzing off it.
I used to feel this and, like… Not that long ago, I was sat in my
bedroom in darkness and I could barely even
say my sister's name, I could barely even say Harriet
out loud without crumbling, and… ..this grief and losing her
is something I'm always going to have to deal with,
for the rest of my life, but today has been a ray of light
and it just shows that… ..her light is here, it's in us,
it's within us, it's still around and she's given me the power
to carry on and… ..I can't believe it. I'm feeling very emotional and
I don't know what to say, but… ..yeah, I'm proud.

34 thoughts on “Learning To Grieve: George Shelley”

  1. Death and grief are both such strange things, I,ve lost many people close to me and they have all left such a huge gap in my life…..

  2. 🙏🏼 thank you for bravely sharing your story of your beautiful sister. Seeing your victories gives me hope that it will be okay. You’re amazing 🌈💕

  3. Nice to see this video. I lost my baby bro last year. He was only 18. Its painful to think he's not with me. First my dad died 6 years ago now I have to deal with this. Losing my bro is the worst pain ever. When my bro died I was 6 weeks pregnant and he was so happy to be an uncle again. It hurts like hell 😔 😔 😔 💔

  4. music wise he's not got a great voice really . never did before it was his looks that got him to where he went

  5. I hate when people say " their in our hearts, in our memories" it just doesnt help at all, especially when thats something your struggling to accept. A video that really helped tho. Thankyou 💔💜

  6. There is VERY little mental health help. As much as it’s being talked about it’s too complex. I haven’t been helped in over 3 years. Doctors changing. Medication changing and being misdiagnosed with really serious diagnosis like somatic disorder then told you have borderline then told no you have BI polar. Never been told you need a brain scan. Been on the waiting list for a specialist for over two years.
    My doctor is sick of me. No one has energy for me anymore. People think you’re making it up. I can’t even get out of my house to throw the rubbish out. So I miss appointments and no one even asks why I’ve missed appointments. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I can’t see a light in the ends of the tunnel. I only have hope for the afterlife if there is one

  7. Watching this was so hard for me. I lost my dad in 2015. I was his sole carer. He was diagnosed with MM and told he had a few months to live. We only had each each other. We lived together. I went to work: paid the rent. We had only each other.
    It’s now 2019 and I still haven’t got out of my room. I lost my job. I went homeless. I lost everything and then was helped by a homeless shelter. There’s days I don’t have anything to eat and I don’t have money to go to my appointments. The doctors have even given up on me. Anti depressants don’t work on me. Honestly no one can convince me that death is not a better place. It’s so painful. The dark side of life is so dark. I don’t even have energy to write this comment but I related to his pain.

  8. its april 27th 2019 2.32am and something inside of me reminded me of this situation when Harriett tragically passed away so I was looking up videos of her and that's when I came across this. 2 YEARS AGO TODAY SHE PASSED WAY WHAT THE ???? like whattttttt??? thats so trippy </3

  9. I’ve recently spiraled deeply into a state of deep sadness and grief… I’ve lost my dad, uncle, grandmother almost nearly three years. Last year was the year of losses. My close friend and my four beloved adopted aunts.💔🥀💔 I find it hard to go on and I also feel very alone in my mourning often and even have lost friends, certain family members, and associates. Because of my hurt and sadness, no one wants the “disease” suffering in silence and being withdrawn has been how I’ve dealt and have succumbed. I can relate to this guy and I commend him, for his honesty and vulnerability here, his sister Harriet seemed lovely…😔 #GriefHurts

  10. Hey George, I know you probably won’t read this or remember me but Easter is the worst time of year for me cuz that’s when I last saw our angel Harriet. She was so amazing and kind. No matter what she always put a smile on anyone’s face. These past few years have been a struggle for all of us and especially for my sis, one of harriers closest friend. I last saw her grave yesterday and she’s living with angels and her memories of us.

    Love you mate.

  11. I know the pain of losing a sister. I lost my older sister suddenly like George in 2012 and the world really does end then. I never let myself grieve and I'm still struggling to. He is a such a brave, brave soul.

  12. This will make George such a powerful performer in time, should he decide to go back to entertaining again.

    I don't understand why the boys from the band are not there for him as well, as they amount to surrogate brothers for goodness sakes. A surrogate family, who seem to be close and care about each other. If they are then no one is letting on.

    Now I fully understand why he had to leave the group. Wow.

    Much Love. My Best. Out.

  13. My heart goes out to George because as a elder sibling it is one of the hardest things to lose someone you've shared most of your life with I lost my brother in August 2015 he was killed in the Shoreham Air Crash he was 23 years old when he died I loved my brother like George loved and still loves Harriet nothing eases the pain of losing someone who is supposed to be there to share memories with not to be buried too soon.

  14. I’m sorry for your loss George Shelley. I understand how much you miss your sister. Life can unfair sometimes.

  15. I’m about to be 19 in a week from now and I have lost family members and I lost my mom at 12 and my longtime friend of 19 years recently. Losing the biggest people in your life is very difficult, and it takes time. But you got the memories of them and they live on always and forever.

  16. I cried my eyes out watching this.I lost three best friends in the month of February in the last few years.I also lost 4 grandparents in that same month as well.My best friend just died last week.I ask myself why them ?!?

  17. 'I can't find a point for my mum dying'. There is no point. That is life. Sometimes the best die, and the idiots remain. Make a point of appreciating people when they are here. No rhyme or reason to death. No justice. If you squeeze the best out of people whilst they are here (rather than wasting time on social media for example) then all the better.

  18. Depression is depression, loss is loss. I don't feel comfortable with doctors prescribing drugs for this. Grief is something entirely different (and yes I know, I lost my father aged 23). I feel that we need to explore death more and not lump it in the same category as depression. Sadness is a natural process, that is incredibly hard, but putting it in the same box as depression is dangerous.

  19. If anyone can please explain and help me to create my own page just for support as I am grieving and finding life very difficult without my Husband.. Life is upside down, am alone..
    My Husband died at the age of 23, due to Sepsis Negligence, the hospital didnt follow the Sepsis protocol

  20. Thank you for being a voice for sibling loss, I lost my younger brother just over a year ago in a car accident and so much of this was relatable. Your sister was gorgeous and I am sending love to your family and all the other bereaved siblings scrolling through the comments.

  21. Thank you for sharing your revelations about grieving. I lost my dad in motorcycle accident 2016 and been pushed away from my family. I've been grieving and numbing myself in my dark room. I loved what ur mom said about u got to keep doing. And doing is so hard to do when its hard just to get out of bed. It's been 3 years.. hard..

  22. This is a really important documentary . To see a young man being open and honest about pain and grief is something we need to applaud. His courage will help so many other young men to admit their own feelings. Bravo George.
    I lost my nan to dementia in September and although I always knew the day would come it didn't make it any easier. My darling nan raised me and was my best friend and confidant. I still want to call her everyday whenever anything happens. Anything at all. I know it will get easier because it has to but right now everything feels exactly as George said, desaturated. Nothing is beautiful to me in a world without her.

  23. I lost my grandmother in the worst time of my life.
    To make my guilt soar to self hate. She died on her birthday. It kills me to know that things could have been better. I lost my mind, memory, strength.. Then God intervened. I found solace in his silence.

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