Goodbye Daddy

Chris on the sofa with the twinsEach year in the UK, over 20,000 children experience the death of a parent. It can be incredibly difficult for families to cope with their loss, and many families need support; but over 30% of local authorities are unable to offer bereavement services.  

Here at Sue Ryder, we believe that no one should face the heart break of losing a loved one alone. From emotional care to practical support, we’re here to help families through this extremely difficult time. 

Families like Chris’, a young solider described as a “proud squaddie” by his wife Kelly. When he was diagnosed with skin cancer, aged just 30, he dealt with it in a typical squaddie way – through humour – and was determined to stay strong for their twin girls, Lauren and Caitlin.

He’d joke about cancer. He was tired with the treatments but he never gave up.” 

Chris underwent surgery to remove the affected area, and tried a number of treatments, but the cancer spread. “He couldn’t face the thought of dying. He didn’t want to talk about it.”

Chris’s GP referred him to Jane, a bereavement co-ordinator at Sue Ryder. “Chris found it difficult to talk about his fears, worries and concerns with me” says Kelly. “But he could with Jane.”

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Charlie chimpJane also spent time talking to Caitlin and Lauren, about the possibility of their daddy dying. They were supported through the Charlie Chimp programme – a specialist bereavement service for children. Caitlin and Lauren were each given a Charlie Chimp workbook which they filled in, and Jane used this to start a conversation with the girls about their fears, feelings, and what they knew about their dad’s illness.

They also got to spend time with our life-sized Charlie Chimp, and like many children we work with, found him a great source of comfort throughout their dad’s illness.

Please support our work today, so we can help make sure no family has to face this heartbreak alone. 

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We couldn’t have done it alone. Thank you doesn’t seem enough.” 

In December 2013, Chris received the devastating news that there was nothing more that could be done. Jane went to the house to help Kelly tell Lauren and Caitlin that Daddy wasn’t going to get better.

“It was hard. They look to you to tell them everything will be alright. They thought he was getting better. Lauren ran to her bedroom crying and Caitlin just sat there and sobbed. It was heart-breaking. I don’t think I could have done it without Jane being there.” 

The girls said goodbye to their dad for the last time on Sunday 22nd December 2013. Just a few hours later, Chris took his last breaths; peacefully, pain free, and surrounded by his family. He was just 32.

Jane is still in touch with Kelly and the girls, and Charlie Chimp is on hand to help. He even attended Chris’ funeral. 

It costs us £320,000 every year to provide bereavement support to families like Chris’s. Please make a donation today, and help us support more families at the most difficult time in their lives. Thank you.

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