I always used to cry about my Daddy dying but since coming to Child Bereavement UK, I feel happier than I used to be.

Alicia’s husband Hong died suddenly, aged 46, from pneumonia septic shock.  With no apparent health issues, he began to feel ill one Monday two years ago.  He was unable to go to work on Tuesday and was taken to hospital by ambulance on Wednesday morning.  Alicia was told that afternoon that Hong would not wake up and on Thursday he died, the family having made the decision to let him die with dignity by turning off the artificial ventilator.  His two children were asleep when Hong left for the hospital, so were unaware of his becoming ill.  Here Alicia talks about how Child Bereavement UK supported her and Ben and Vanessa, now aged nine and three, following the death of their father.

 “My husband passed away really suddenly so we didn’t have a chance to prepare for it.  Ben was seven and Vanessa was just one year old,” says Alicia. “At the time, a teacher at Ben’s school had died suddenly and another child had lost a parent, so there was a lot for Ben to have to understand.   He felt angry, his father’s death was so sudden that there was no chance to say goodbye.

 “At first, I didn’t seek any help, but I suddenly broke down and my family said that I needed to get help.  I went to see a private bereavement counsellor, but they were not able to help me with all the things that were worrying me, such as how to parent bereaved children and coping with other stresses in my life. Eventually, I went online to look for help.  I saw that Child Bereavement UK had a centre in Milton Keynes so I walked in to an Open Day and spoke to Yaz, one of the bereavement support practitioners.

 “I was really desperate to talk to someone – anyone – as I was really low.  I didn’t have any help and I didn’t know who to turn to.  Yaz sat me down and we looked at all the things that had been left to me to sort out.  At every session we looked at the problems I was facing and she helped me take my time and talk them through.

 “At first, I just came to see Child Bereavement UK on my own for support with my own grief and with parenting my children.  Then, later, Ben started coming for one-to-one support and attended the Family Support Group with me.”

 “We had sad times, but Child Bereavement UK helped me by doing lots of fun things and talking about our wishes and what would make us happy”, says Ben. “It helped rather than making it feel worse. We also went to the Family Support Group and there were other children there who had the same problem.  We played games and read stories that reminded us of our person who had died.”

“We were able to talk about Daddy,” says Alicia. “Ben knew that when he came to see Child Bereavement UK he could say how he was feeling and that everything was confidential.

“We talked about how to manage our anger and things we could do.   I think meeting other families helped me see that I wasn’t the only person dealing with grief.  You see other people are upset too and you see the difficulties they have to deal with, it’s not just you.”

Child Bereavement UK also helped Alicia to support Vanessa, who was just one when her father died.

 “At the time it happened, she knew nothing. But there came a time where I had to come to Child Bereavement UK for help with how to introduce death to Vanessa.  So, we started talking about when animals die, how ladybirds fall to the ground and they die, how leaves fall off a tree and are dead. Then we talked about Daddy and Vanessa now knows that Hong’s body is in the ground and he’s up in heaven.  We also introduced photographs of Hong so that she can have memories of her Daddy.”

 Ben, now nine, is now looking forward to attending the charity's Family Support Group for a second time.

 “I always used to cry about my Daddy dying but since coming to Child Bereavement UK, I feel happier than I used to be,” says Ben. “If you feel upset you should tell someone you trust like your friends, teachers or your parents. Never keep it in.” 

 “We’re able to talk about death better now,” says Alicia. “When Ben has any worries, he can come and talk with me.  He feels that he’s safe and he won’t make me cry, even though he knows it’s a sad thing.  With Child Bereavement UK’s help, we know we can get through it together.”