Rachel’s husband, Yinka, died suddenly while Rachel and her sons, Aaron and Jude, were out of the country. Aaron was five and Jude, one. Rachel and Aaron, now aged eight, talk about Yinka’s death and how they were supported by Child Bereavement UK in East London.

 “We were away in Switzerland when Yinka died, so we found out a few days after it happened when the police called to tell us,” says Rachel.

Aaron had just finished reception, so it meant that he left school for the summer holidays with a Dad and went back without a Dad. I was worried about how he could cope when he went back to school and didn’t know whether I should send him.

“Aaron had just finished reception, so it meant that he left school for the summer holidays with a Dad and went back without a Dad. I was worried about how he could cope when he went back to school and didn’t know whether I should send him.

 Over the summer I tried to get him to do some reading and other homework but I just got really frustrated; he wouldn’t read, he wouldn’t do his writing. I started looking for help online and found Child Bereavement UK. I called them and they told me basically not to worry about it. I’d been thinking: ‘He’s going to school and he needs to learn!’ but I was actually focusing on this rather than what had happened.

“Over the summer I tried to get him to do some reading and other homework but I just got really frustrated; he wouldn’t read, he wouldn’t do his writing. I started looking for help online and found Child Bereavement UK. I called them and they told me not to worry about it.. I’d been thinking: ‘He’s going to school and he needs to learn!’, but I was actually focusing on this rather than what had happened.”

 I felt sad that I didn’t have a Daddy. I wasn’t really interested in school because he’d died. I felt anxious and confused about going back to school.

“I felt sad that I didn’t have a Daddy,” says Aaron. “I wasn’t really interested in school because he’d died. I felt anxious and confused about going back to school. Some of my friends were kind though.”

 “Aaron’s teacher was lovely,” says Rachel. “She was very kind and arranged for Aaron to have ‘draw and talk’ sessions at school. He would come out of the classroom and do some drawing with someone. She told me they didn’t talk, they just sat there and drew pictures. If he wanted to talk he did, if he didn’t that was fine, there was no pressure on him. We also started to come to see Child Bereavement UK once a month and Aaron attended the family group.”

 The sessions at Child Bereavement UK made me happy, I felt really happy around Sylvia who supported me.

“The sessions at Child Bereavement UK made me happy, I felt really happy around Sylvia who supported me,” says Aaron. “One of the things we did is play a game called All About Me. You had to roll a dice, pick a card and answer questions. The type of question depended on the card you picked up.”

 “We also answered questions for Daddy like what was Daddy’s favourite colour?” says Rachel.

 “And we made a jar full of sand,” says Aaron. “You coloured the sand to make it the colour of Daddy’s favourite things, then you put it inside the jar,” says Aaron

 “We chose black for the Play Station because you guys used to play PlayStation,” says Rachel. “We used blue for the sky and green for the grass because we used to play outside with Daddy.”

 “And we choose red for Manchester United,” says Aaron.

Coming to Child Bereavement UK helped us to talk to one another about Daddy. It helped us realise how important it is to keep thinking about things we remember about him.

“Coming to Child Bereavement UK helped us to talk to one another about Daddy,” says Rachel. “It helped us to realise how important it is to keep thinking about things we remember about him.

 “Our bereavement support practitioner was really kind and even grandpa came to a session and played All About Me because Aaron really wanted him to. Coming to Child Bereavement UK made me realise how good talking about things is, so I don’t shy away from telling Aaron things now. Sometimes he really reminds me of his Dad in the things that he does and I’m quite open to telling him that.”

 Since Yinka died, the family has moved to a different area but Rachel is still accessing support for the children closer to their new home.

 “Aaron is still very young and he’s still not always able to talk about what happened,”she says.

 “Like yesterday I got sad because I don’t have a Daddy and that made me feel all weird,” says Aaron. “So I snuggled next to mummy and she gave me a big, big hug.”

 Although Jude was only one when Yinka died, Rachel is including him when the family talk about him.

 “I have told Jude that his Dad has died and I think he does understand because he sometimes gets upset about and asks: ‘Where’s my Daddy, why don’t I have a Daddy?’ And he gets upset if you are away, particularly if Aaron isn’t around. He’ll say: ‘Where have you been, why have you gone?’. A couple of weeks ago, when we were talking about his Daddy dying, he said: ‘I don’t want Aaron to die’ and ‘I don’t have a Dad but I don’t want Aaron to die.’ It can be difficult.”

 “I would definitely recommend coming to see Child Bereavement UK. In fact, I have done. Aaron’s best friend’s father died and I encouraged his mum to come to Child Bereavement UK because he was very angry and upset. I tried to usher her towards coming to the charity because I think they helped Aaron and they helped me as well.

 You don’t know what to do when one parent dies, you don’t know what to do with the kids, you don’t how to do what’s best for them. It was nice to get support because I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to handle certain situations. The expertise, experience and advice of Child Bereavement UK was so good.

“Although the charity is called Child Bereavement UK, I’ve had more sessions than Aaron. You don’t know what to do when one parent dies, you don’t know what to do with the kids, you don’t how to do what’s best for them. It was nice to get support because I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to handle certain situations. The expertise, experience and advice of Child Bereavement UK was so good.

 I learnt to relax, take things easy and really choose my battles. They say take it day by day so I’d just wake up in the morning and plan that day rather than planning everything in advance.

“I learnt to relax, take things easy and really choose my battles. They say take it day by day so I’d just wake up in the morning and plan that day rather than planning everything in advance. I was used to making all these plans then everything came shuddering to a halt. I would tell other families in our situation to seek help. Even if you do think you have everything under control, it’s nice to have that extra bit of support, just to help you get through.

“Child Bereavement UK helps you get your courage back and your confidence,” says Aaron.

 Child Bereavement UK helps you get your courage back and your confidence.