Robert and Wendy and their daughter, Holly, aged 10, were supported by Child Bereavement UK in Glasgow after their son Taylor died of a heart condition aged 19.  Holly was six and a half at the time. 


Robert

After losing Taylor, Wendy wanted to go to some sort of counselling quite quickly. But it turned out to be a bit too early for her to discuss how she was feeling.  So, we left it a few years and then, through her circles as a practice nurse, she heard about Child Bereavement UK. We came to the first meeting as a family.  It was probably the best conversation we’d had with a professional.

Our practitioner allowed us to talk, cry and smile - all in the same session. We felt she was very much ensuring Holly was going to be alright.  She made a fuss of her; if Holly was crying or was sad or quiet, she would just let her be.   That made Wendy and me very comfortable.

 Child Bereavement UK set the scene so we could talk about things we hadn’t talked about to anyone else. The stage was set for us to be as relaxed as we could be and to be open and honest.

Child Bereavement UK set the scene so we could talk about things we hadn’t talked about to anyone else. The stage was set for us to be as relaxed as we could be and to be open and honest. It was probably the first time that the three of us had been the same room talking about what happened to Taylor. Even at home, whenever we tried to talk to one another about it, there were always barriers or hurdles, you were unsure about crossing that line.

You felt comfortable knowing that what was said within those four walls would always stay within those four walls.  Anything you wanted to let out, they were happy for you let out, if it caused floods of tears, that didn’t matter. It felt comfortable to do that.

I’d never heard of Child Bereavement UK before, but I’d heard of other support groups. I didn’t know how they looked or what the format was though.   It’s strange because in my job as a personnel and training manager over the last few years, I’d always thought I was good at what I did.   But when I listened to our Practitioner, Ann, she was on a different level to me.  Talking and listening to her, with the sort of skill she had gathered over the years, allowed us to talk in a very free and open manner.

We were then invited to join the group sessions. Other families would be involved, and the groups would interact; play was a large part for children, which sounded good as Wendy and I could discuss adult things with other adults while Holly went off with the other children.  

There were four families that went to the group sessions.  The format involved playing games at the start of the session with the kids. You would see them laughing even though we were there to talk about bereavement. That bit of fun to start with allowed everyone to relax and be comfortable in each other’s company.

At the  parents’ group sessions, we could talk openly about our feelings.  That set-up allowed us to be quite honest with one another; it was fascinating to listen to other people’s view on their loss and hear how they were dealing with their grief.

Then once we went through to the parents’ group sessions, we could talk openly and talk about our feelings.  That set-up allowed us to be quite honest with one another; it was fascinating to listen to other people’s view on their loss and hear how they were dealing with their grief.

Sometimes people around you think they’re doing the right thing, they think they’re doing well but they’re not. Knowing people felt the same thing made us feel relaxed, it made it feel that we were just part of a circle, that it wasn’t just us.  I thought it was just us that felt that way because we’d lost our son.

Since coming to Child Bereavement UK, there’s been an improvement in terms of Holly’s emotional side. She was going through some challenges in how she felt as a person.  She was very emotional about losing Taylor.  Taylor was nineteen at the time, and even though there were twelve and a half years between them, the bond between them was very close. That brother and sister thing was there from day one. Taylor was besotted with Holly and vice versa.

At Child Bereavement UK, Holly opened up about a few things.  It was probably the first time she had spoken about it to someone else apart from me and her mum. Prior to that she hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, she didn’t volunteer too many feelings.  We remember sitting watching Holly at Child Bereavement UK doing the exercises and activities, and it seemed that they allowed her the time to think.  

After the sessions we’d have a wee bit of family homework, which allowed us to hear from Holly the things that she’d been discussing.  We would talk about how we felt, and she would talk about how she felt, which joined everything up.

I looked forward to coming to the sessions at Child Bereavement UK as they were a release and helped me cope with some of the things I was going through. Looking back on it, I’d probably have been much lower without Child Bereavement UK.

We’ve all got different feelings about how life is treating us now as we’ve all had other challenges going on at the same time. I retired two years ago so I’m still having to come to terms with the fact that I’m not working; that’s tough.  This coincided with concerns about my own health and what happened to Taylor.  I looked forward to coming to the sessions at Child Bereavement UK as they were a release and helped me cope with some of the things I was going through. Looking back on it, I’d probably have been much lower without Child Bereavement UK.

My wife Wendy’s story is probably different to mine. I think Wendy is in a place where she thoroughly enjoyed coming to Child Bereavement UK, but she knew there would still be challenges that wouldn’t just stop or get much easier.  Wendy still has those raw emotions, but she got out of coming to Child Bereavement UK what she was expecting to get, and probably a wee bit more.  She was glad she could talk to someone who seemed to be so understanding and gave her the time to talk. 

I’d say to other bereaved families, make sure that you’re ready to go to Child Bereavement UK. Each individual will know when the time is right.  Child Bereavement UK has the right kind of structure and setting, and the empathy and experience, to know what people are going through. 

Child Bereavement UK allows that openness, to talk freely about your bereavement and not be frightened to cry, to be angry, to blame or not to blame. 

They allow that openness, to talk freely about your bereavement and not be frightened to cry, to be angry, to blame or not to blame. Whatever emotion you are going through is right for you at the time, and there’s always support and guidance on how you can get through it.

I personally find resilience a very hard thing to get my head around and to understand. I can understand the principles behind it but carrying it out I find quite tough.  Some people move on a long way and that’s great, but even if you only move on in a small way, that can help you and that’s fine. It’s just a matter of doing that, year after year after year. The best thing I would say to people, is don’t be frightened to talk.

Holly

Taylor and I watched movies together.  He would cuddle me at night-time because he loved me.  I’m glad I came to Child Bereavement UK, I felt better talking about Taylor.

I liked doing the games and activities and listening to the stories.  The other children were nice.  When I first came to Child Bereavement UK, I was a bit nervous but happy at the same time.  When the groups finished, I felt a bit sad.

The best thing I did was making a memory box. I put green, blue and pink and peach colours on it.  I have it in my bedroom.  When I look at it, I think about when I made it.

I’d say it’s OK to go for support because everyone needs support and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I was able to talk to people.