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Another School Year Gone

It's been a long day without you, my friend
And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
We've come a long way from where we began
Oh, I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again

...

As another school year finishes, there is still just one little boy missing from the class and I can feel my heart hurt for Jack that little bit more. The hype of what class the kids are in next year, who their teacher is, sports day, extra golden time, dvds and games in class; all make me sad for what Jack is missing. As the kids get excited for the start of the holidays, I can still hear jack saying “how many days left of school mummy”, “how many more sleeps mummy".

As the schools finish for the summer, take a minute as a parent to appreciate that you have your child to spend the holidays with. Use the summer holidays to make special memories with your child as none of us can predict the future. When you go to complain, just think of the thousands of other parents out there that would give their life to have just one more day with their child.

Take a minute tonight to remember all those children who aren't stopping nursery or school for the summer.

Arlene, Jack's Mummy xxx

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Living This Journey

Tell me how am I supposed to live without you
Now that I've been loving you so long
How am I supposed to live without you
How am I supposed to carry on
When all that I've been living for is gone.

...

How is any parent supposed to live after the death of their child?

3 years on, I still ask myself that question but in the days, weeks and months following Jacks death I asked myself those questions several times per day. As one day rolled into the other, I had no idea how or if I would survive another day without my son. Up until that point, my whole life had been my son and then my whole life suddenly became empty. There is a real sense of despair, darkness and hopelessness after the death of your child and I remember desperately wanting to talk to another bereaved parent or a professional who had dealt with bereaved parents.

After Jack died, I spent several months attending a bereavement counsellor and I can honestly say that it was the best thing that I did. For one hour per week, I was able to let my mask fall, face my demons and be the Arlene that I would never let the outside world see. When I look back now, I realise that I shared my deepest darkest pain in that room. I was able to pour my heart out without the fear of upsetting her or her thinking that I was going crazy. I was able to process my thoughts and feelings in a way that I would not have been able to myself, I learned things about myself, my grief, my coping mechanisms and most importantly, it helped me to realise that everything I was feeling was completely normal.

At Brightest Star we provide bereavement counselling to parents that have lost a child at any age, from any cause of death. We are also now looking to extend these services to grandparents and adult siblings. Spaces have become available at our Hulks Haven in Linwood so of you are a bereaved parent, grandparent or sibling and you would like to make an appointment please contact us via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sending strength to all that are living this journey,
Arlene, Jack's Mummy xx

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Moving Home

These little school shoes had been at my front door waiting for my boy to come home for the last 3 years. Deep down, I knew that he was never coming home but I just couldn’t bring myself to move them as if I had, then it would be like accepting that fact that he died. For 3 years, I kept Jacks room the exact same way that it was the very last day that he left my house. I was never in denial that my son had died; I knew that Jack was never coming home but I didn’t want to face that reality. I suppose having his room there gave me some kind of peace and comfort. Right or wrong, weird or strange, that was just my way of coping. At that time, I couldn’t bring myself to sort through Jacks things, pack them up or give them away as some people may suggest. How can any parent imagine packing their child’s things away forever?

Last year I decided that moving house may have been a better option for me. Jack always played with the children in street and I couldn’t bear to see Jack being the one that was missing from the street anymore. Jack got the school bus at the end of the street and I couldn’t bear passing the school bus each day and seeing that he was the only child missing. Last month, those little shoes were the last thing that I lifted as I left my home for the very last time. Packing my boys things away was like reliving the nightmare of his death all over again. People often say that “you have your memories” but I don’t think people realise how sad good memories can actually be. As I looked through Jack things, they brought back so many good memories but they made me sadder because they are all past memories and I will never get to make anymore memories with Jack. More than that, I feel so sad for Jack, for all the memories that he will never get to make.

Sometimes we are too quick to give advice and make judgments on things that we have never experienced ourselves , “maybe you should pack their things away” “maybe you need a new start” “it isn’t healthy to keep their room and belongings” “it’s just bricks” “you take your memories with you”. Moving house for me has been much more than leaving bricks and mortar and never again will I underestimate what a house move means to someone. Nor will I ever say to someone that “it's starting a new chapter or moving on” as nobody knows the impact and the guilt that this can place on someone. I don't want to start a new chapter without jack or move on without Jack.

Many families that I work with have moved home and have felt that it has been the best thing for them. I have always said that this blog was going to be a true reflection of my personal journey of grief and that for that reason I going to be honest and say that for me, leaving my home has felt like losing my boy all over again. It's made me face the reality that my boy is gone and never coming home. A reality I never wanted to face. A reality that no parents wants to exist but sadly this is a daily reality for so many people as children do die daily and that is the sole reason Brightest Star exists.

For this reason, I have taken some time off from Brightest Star lately hence there may have been a delay in communication etc and why I have not been able to commit as much time to organising/pushing events etc. As the summer approaches, I will have more time and we can make the second half of 2016 one to remember for Brightest Star.

Arlene, Jack’s Mummy xxx

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Moving On?

Isn’t it time to move on? Are you not better yet? Are you not over that? Have you been through all the stages yet? Are you grieve forever? Sadly those are some of the questions that are asked of those who are grieving the death of loved one.

Society puts huge pressure on people to get over their loss and to move on. But who is anyone to say how long a person should grieve for? Who decides how long we should grieve for parents that die in a car accident, a partner that dies ...from an illness, a teenager that is murdered or a child that falls asleep and never wakes back up? Who decides whether we grieve for 1 year, 10 years or 50 years?

From losing of my own son, I know that grief doesn’t have a time limit and certainly doesn’t have a timeline or come in a straightforward series of stages. I can experience sadness, anger, guilt and happiness all in the one hour never mind over a period of months/years. I wish I could predict when each emotion will hit but I can’t because grief is unpredictable.

Someone recently said me to that they thought I wouldn’t be over this by now, if you lost your child, do you think you would get over it? They thought that I would be better or fixed by now, if you lost your child, do you think you would be better or fixed? How can I possible ever be better or fixed? I had a future planned with my beautiful son, he had his whole life ahead of him, school, a career, friendships, a wife, and children. How can I ever be better knowing that he will never get to do these things and that I will never see him again? How can I be fixed when everything you tuck you child into bed and I lie wondering where mine is and if he is happy and safe? Sometimes people just don’t think before they speak but I often wish people would take a minute to think about how they would feel if they lost their child.

Each person’s grief is unique, just like the uniqueness of the person that died. My grief is a reflection of my love for my son, in life I loved him dearly and in death, I love and miss him dearly. The death of my son happened in an instant but the aftermath of his loss will last a lifetime; the same lifetime that my love for him will last.

Nobody wants to feel the intense pain that grief causes, the sadness, the tears, the desperation, the helplessness, the longing, the guilt, the isolation, the depression. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is real, grief is natural and grief doesn’t come with a timeline, no matter how much we may want it to.

Maybe tonight we could all take the time to acknowledge someone’s grief, tag them in this post, send them a text or pay them a visit. Let them know that you are there for them and that they don’t need to hide their grief from you.

To deny their loss is to deny their love.

Arlene, Jack’s Mummy xxx

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