FIVE YEARS ON… in the words of a bereaved parent

FIVE YEARS ON…. In the words of a bereaved parent


It was 5 years since we lost Henry on Monday November 2nd. The grief is not as raw but it still hurts like hell and we’ll never be the people we were before his diagnosis. Funnily enough, I actually felt sadness this year – rather than the usual numbness. I spent the day visiting the Crematorium where we left him and the lovely garden his primary school have made in his memory. The evening was the highlight: spent with Henry’s closest friends as we ate pasta and pizza; listening to their enthusiasm as they plan for life after A levels.


So how DO you cope as a bereaved parent?


It’s hard to know and I’m not sure that we do. It’s a taboo area and every parent deals with it in their own way. I can only speak from my own position. Kids aren’t supposed to go first and I know that people don’t want to imagine what it feels like. I’ve seen many a time when I’ve held someone who’s burst into tears telling me how awful it is and what a lovely boy Henry was.


This can be tough but it is in a strange way, comforting. They remember him, which is what matters to me. It’s all I ask. He existed (and still does on a daily basis for me). I’d rather you said a few clumsy words than nothing at all. I think the most sincere response was from a male friend of few words who, on meeting for the first time after Henry’s death commented, “I don’t know what to say.” I appreciated his honesty. The cruelest was watching the mother of a child Henry knew catching my eye in a supermarket then whisking her son into the next aisle to avoid me.


On his Birthday, his Anniversary, celebratory events or spending time with his wonderful mates, my mind is always elsewhere – with my boy. This is a world I inhabit often: a place for Henry and me. I try to imagine what he’d be like now then stumble, knowing that he’ll always have to be 12 years old.


There are times when I ‘wobble’ unexpectedly. I went downhill at one stage and didn’t know why. I then realised that it was leading up to his friends getting their GCSE results. Times like this creep up on you often and unexpectedly …. and cause pain.


All you need to do is let bereaved parents know that you remember and care about the child they’ve lost – the most beautiful word I can hear is “Henry”. It keeps me going.


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