National Bereaved Parents Day 2024

National Bereaved Parents Day 2024

Remembering the parents on National Bereaved Parents Day by Ryan Guerin Dip FD, Funeral Director and Head of Development at Jonathan Alcock and Sons.

National Bereaved Parents Day is a time to honour and remember parents who have experienced the loss of a child. This day serves as a time for reflection, remembrance, and support for those who have been affected by this unimaginable loss.

 

This day of recognition was first started in 2020 by a wonderful charity called A Child of Mine.

The charity was founded by the parents of a little boy named Lewis, who sadly died from Stage 4 high-risk Neuroblastoma, a highly aggressive childhood cancer. After reading their story, it was clear that they felt supported by meeting the families from the oncology unit who had been through a similar experience to them and understood the pain and grief they were experiencing. Through this network of friends, they could navigate the extremely difficult days that followed Lewis’s death whilst adjusting to a new way of life.

After some time, they came to the realisation that fellow parents who have gone through the loss of a child might not have access to the same level of support that they had received. This was the catalyst for them to create A Child of Mine – a charity that would benefit bereaved parents, to provide a much needed support network to help them through some of the darkest days.

After taking some time to navigate the website, you can see how well thought out it is. It has an extensive list of resources and information that can tap into the kind of support you may need. These include;

  • Books for children – ‘The Lonely Tree’, which explains the cycles of life in a sensitive way, and ‘Where are you Lydie?’ which was written by a bereaved parent who was inspired to write the book in answer to questions she faced from her little boy George when his sister Lydie passed away.
  • Articles on the practicalities surrounding a death.
  • Real Stories from those people who have faced the loss of a child
  • Support groups for parents, siblings and families.

As a Funeral Director with 18 years’ experience, I can say that arranging the funeral of a child is never easy for me or any of the team. You cannot help but be deeply touched by the loss of a child on a personal level, and each funeral service leaves something with you. Even as a father myself, it is difficult to comprehend what bereaved parents are going through. One thing you learn is that grief is very individual for each set of parents, as we all have different life experiences and coping mechanisms. It’s hard not to feel that it is unfair for this family to have to meet me now. I should be long retired before the funeral of this special little person takes place because they deserve the right to a long life, just like we all do.

It is never lost on me or any of the team the immense trust that is placed in us to take on such an important funeral arrangement. We constantly endeavour to go above and beyond to ensure we assist the family through the difficult decisions that inevitably must be made. As Funeral Directors, we also have to recognise the part we play in the long journey these families have to make. Our involvement is only for a short time, so I feel it is essential that we learn to signpost families to receive the support they need on the next part of their journey. That’s why today, I want to share the work of A Child of Mine for their excellent support they give to families at this most painful time.

In addition to the work of this fantastic charity, we all have our part to play to support bereaved parents. It is not always easy to know how best to do that, but the one skill we all have which can help is to listen. Having someone listen to your feelings, thoughts, and emotions can help those who are bereaved express themselves, knowing it is with a person they can trust, can bring great comfort. Sometimes, it is not what we say but what we do that lends the most significant support. I have heard of examples of families coming together to assist with cooking, cleaning, transportation, and all of the daily things that have to continue, but that becomes an even more difficult task when we are grieving.

By creating National Bereaved Parents Day, A Child of Mine has given us a great opportunity to show our support to those parents who have lost a child and are grieving. There is also a practical way that we can mark this special day and show our support to remember those children who lost their lives too soon;  at 7pm on 3rd July, we invite you to join us in lighting a candle to signify that we will never forget those children and that we stand shoulder to shoulder with those parents who have had to face the most unimaginable loss.

If you would like to learn more about A Child of Mine please visit their website here https://achildofmine.org.uk/

Ryan Guerin Dip FD, Funeral Director and Head of Development at Jonathan Alcock and Sons


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