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Child Bereavement Service Belfast

A parent's story

My 8 year old son Paul was very close to my brother Robert, so when he was murdered, like the rest of our family, Paul was obviously devastated. Robert was stabbed during an attempted robbery in his home. We were very open with Paul about the death, while trying to protect him to some degree.  He did attend the funeral and was fully involved. He was by my side in the church and tried his best to comfort me throughout the Service and in turn we did our best to answer any questions he had.  

Paul is so young and also has Asperger Syndrome and it greatly concerned me that he was going to grow up with such an awful tragedy in his past. I hadn’t known anyone who was murdered until I was 37, so could not fathom how he would cope with such a loss of innocence at his young age. As time went on Paul seemed to be coping well and we thought he wasn’t thinking about his uncle Robert’s death as much, until it became clear that he was very frightened at night time.  

The trial of the man accused of murdering my brother lasted two weeks; this was very disruptive to our family and extremely traumatic for my parents and I to attend. At home people would be asking me about it and I am sure Paul probably overheard things that I would rather he hadn’t, but it is not always possible to protect children as well as we would like when we are dealing with our own grief.

I felt unable to help Paul cope with the issue of his own personal safety; he was having nightmares and was very frightened at times, and because my own feelings of safety in the world had also been shattered, I wasn’t sure that I was convincing enough to reassure him effectively. I wasn’t sure if we had dealt with the whole bereavement process in the best way and worried that there may be issues that would negatively affect Paul in the future.

We soon began attending weekly sessions with the Child Bereavement worker, which were really beneficial. Paul enjoyed working through the book ‘When Someone Special Dies’, and we were given really good ideas of things to do in memory of Robert, such as the glass jar filled with coloured salts, each representing different memories of Robert, which Paul keeps beside his bed.

Travelling to and from the sessions gave Paul and I the chance to talk about Robert and things came up in conversations during that time that I was able to clarify for Paul and I don’t think this would have happened unless we attending these appointments and focusing on Robert.

Attending the Child Bereavement Service helped us in so many ways. We are happy in the knowledge that everything possible has been done to help Paul come to terms with such a horrific event and heartbreaking time. I am confident that there should not be any repercussions in the future for my son because we sought support and advice to help us deal with our loss. In short I believe the Child Bereavement Service helped Paul achieve ‘closure’. I would absolutely recommend this service and we will always be grateful to Barnardo’s.