Coping with loneliness after the death of my four-year-old-son, Henry

By Dawn Allen

When Henry died everyone crowded round me, and I felt suffocated. They wanted to help but didn’t know how to. Family members would bring dinner round, but I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to have a normal life; why would I cook dinner, why would I eat, when Henry couldn’t?

I didn’t know what I believed any more, I didn’t know who I was any more or what I was supposed to do. I had no-one to look after and I felt so lonely, lost, and isolated. 

I tried to explain to family members and close friends that I just wanted to ‘be’, but they didn’t understand. My husband Mark and I didn’t want to answer the door, we didn’t want to go to the pub, we didn’t want to go for a walk, we just wanted to be in the house where Henry gained his wings and people couldn’t quite understand that. You’re not being rude or offensive, you just need time to deal with your emotions. I didn’t know what I believed any more, I didn’t know who I was any more or what I was supposed to do. I had no-one to look after and I felt so lonely, lost, and isolated.  Every day you get up, you are bereaved and having to learn how to live without your child, it’s so hard.

Someone once said to me ‘Don’t you think it’s time you should let it go now?’. But you can’t let it go - that was your child, that was your baby. They are forever your baby, you are forever a mummy, you are forever a daddy, they are forever part of your family. Another person said ‘Don’t you think you should have another baby now, or think about trying?” But Henry was our miracle baby, we were told we couldn’t have children, so for us that was a really gut-wrenching thing to say.

All you want is for people not to forget your child, because you don’t;he’s still my baby and I’m still a mummy. It hurts when families are being families because you so want to be part of that. You can feel very isolated and very lonely, and not part of society sometimes because it is very family orientated.

Coming to Child Bereavement UK taught us that we are not alone and there’s not something wrong with us. They made me realise I have the strength and courage to carry on every day, but I can still take Henry with me.

The Henry Allen Trust was set up by Dawn and Mark to provide support and advice to families affected by childhood cancer.