Lee was supported by Child Bereavement UK in Glasgow after her son Joe died of cancer aged 11.

Grieving for a child is very intense and overwhelming and goes on for a long period of time. The support made me more confident to speak to anybody about Joe - now I actually quite like it.

When Joe was diagnosed, it was completely out of the blue and we had no warning at all. We'd noticed some slight changes in his ability to hold things with his left hand, and he was complaining of pain and feeling a bit achy. At first, we thought maybe he just had a football injury because he was very active.

But it continued on from there and seemed to get worse and recur more, and he was in a lot more pain. The week before Christmas, we took him to the hospital for an X-ray as we thought it might be an old break. They scanned Joe the next morning and told us it was very serious.

When Joe died, I felt like an alien transported from another planet; everything looked the same, everything sounded the same, everybody was in the same jobs, life was carrying on, but I felt completely different from everybody else because I had lost Joe.

I felt that nobody would really be able to understand what I was going through. Joe had wanted us to carry on and be happy. I’d express how I felt in ways like hillwalking and other activities that helped me, but I needed to be able to say out loud things that were in my head and needed to find a safe space to do that.

My husband found Child Bereavement UK online and went for one-to-one support and then I also went, which is where I found there was a monthly group for bereaved parents. Groups are not my thing and I thought, 'I'm going to hate this, but it is support and I might find something that helps me'. I went to the first group and did hate every second of it, to be really honest; I walked into the room and realised I'd lost a child when I saw everyone else there.

However, I did get something from the group. I always think that when you go to something and it's really uncomfortable, maybe you need to go again because the first time is always a shock, especially for something as traumatic as losing your child. So I went the next month and realised I’d found people that understood me and I felt very comfortable speaking at the group sessions. I think if someone who hadn’t lost a child heard some of the things we talked about in the group they’d probably be very concerned about us, but we knew it was OK to say just how bad we were feeling in a safe and supportive space.

One of the most important things about the group and the one-to-one support is that it allowed me to say whatever was on my mind and not be frightened of what it sounded like.

One of the most important things about the group and the one-to-one support is that it allowed me to say whatever was on my mind and not be frightened of what it sounded like. I can say really difficult things out loud and be listened to and understood without any judgement at all.

Grieving for a child is very intense and overwhelming and goes on for a long period of time. The support made me more confident to speak to anybody about Joe - now I actually quite like it. Sometimes it's really difficult, but it’s just become part of my life. I might have lost Joe, but I use the energy that I’ve gained from managing my grief to lead a really good life without feeling guilty, and that's quite important.

I understand my grief more and knowing I have the group once a month means if something comes up that might be triggering - like an anniversary - I  can talk about it.  When an anniversary is coming up, sometimes you can feel something coming and you can't quite work out what it is; it’s like something approaching from the distance that doesn't feel very good and as it gets closer, it comes faster and faster. That’s when I start talking about Joe to my friends or Child Bereavement UK - it's almost like you need to recognise those times when they're coming to prepare your brain for the actual day. It tends to be that on the actual day I find that it's fine and I enjoy it, and then afterwards you kind of decompress.

Since Joe died, people say things that are not right or that sound odd, but people only come from a place of love, I've found. It’s just that they can't articulate how they feel about my loss; they don't know what to say and they're confused and worried about saying the wrong thing. But actually whatever they say, I always take it as it is because they love me or they love Joe and they're just trying to tell me that.

I've never been angry with anybody and I've never felt disappointed with whatever was said to me because it’s a very uncomfortable thing to talk about and people don't want to talk about the fact that you’ve lost someone. Some people will try to walk to a different part of the building to avoid having to confront it while other people will overshare and tell you about all the people that they've lost, which in itself can be quite annoying because my grief is my grief. But I don't think there's a right or wrong way of talking to somebody who's grieving for a child. I think everyone's different and some days you might feel OK to talk about it and other days not.

I remember Joe all the time, but when I want to be specific about it or if it's an anniversary or there’s a special time coming up I tend to go off into nature - I have a real connection with nature and so did Joe. I’ll just spend a day in the middle of nowhere, swimming off the West Coast of Scotland or at the top of a hill and I find that’s my best way of connecting with Joe. When Joe first died, I would go to the top of mountains and just shout to him which I found quite powerful because it's a real release and I felt like my voice was kind of carrying out into the universe. I think everyone I’ve met who has lost a child finds their own way of connecting.

When your child dies, you’re starting the journey of living the rest of your life without them.

When your child dies, you’re starting the journey of living the rest of your life without them. Someone said to me, ‘When is it going back to the way it was before?’ and I said it will never go back to the way it was before and I think it's very important to try and understand that it can't go back. You have to try and find the help and the resources from this point on to enable you then to have your life without your child. That’s really hard and painful which is why you need support because it can't go back, it can only go forward and you can only do that by having lots and lots of different tools in place. For me Child Bereavement UK was one of them, friends another and things like hillwalking and wild swimming. Whatever it is, all of these things will enable you to live your life without your child.


Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.