| I was driving home from taking my friend Nicky for her brain scan at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting as she had a “funny” turn last October where she fainted or had a “mini fit” and I started listening to Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 Show where they were discussing bereavement and Gordon Brown speaking for the first time about the death of his little baby Jennifer.
There were many parents ringing in and talking about the impact of losing a child and it was humbling and distressing to listen to their stories of loss. One mother poignantly pointed out that when a person loses a husband they are called a widower, when a wife loses a husband they are called a widow but when a parent loses a child there is no name to describe their traumatic loss.
Both political leaders have lost a child and whilst it is not appropriate to use loss for political gain perhaps it is an opportunity for us as nation to discuss grief, bereavement, mourning and loss.
Recently we had my husband’s parents down to visit and I was telling them about a new game I have found to be fun and entertaining and great for getting the whole family talking. But which also turned out to teach us more about ourselves and our family and to go much deeper than I first thought.
We opened up the Grandparents Talk set around the table as we were eating and chatting and we discovered that my husband had two siblings who died. One little boy called Sean, was stillborn and the other little girl called Karen lived only for 4 days.
My husband never knew about the little boy or the little white coffins that he often went to visit as a small child, but my parents- in –law opened up and talked about the grief and sadness that never leaves them and our whole family felt we had connected at a deeper level of compassion and understanding and our children learnt about discussing grief and loss in a family setting where we talked openly.
I have written before about the death of both of my parents and how it affected me and I know that my own Mum had 3 miscarriages after myself and that they were all boys. But grief is often a taboo subject, particularly amongst the British, as we are a shy, reserved nation but I feel that grief and death are a part of life and when the time feels appropriate should be talked about so the grief can heal.
This is not the place for me to pretend to me an expert on this subject although when I was a Head of PSHE I did have to deal with a little boy of 8 who came into school on a Monday the next morning after his Dad died of a brain haemorrhage. But perhaps this is the place to encourage you to look at how you teach your children about death.
As someone pointed out to me after the death of my Dad, followed very closely by the death of my Mum, “How you handle death, Sue is really a blueprint for how your children handle death in their lives too.”
So perhaps this is the weekend to not point fingers at politicians, but to embrace the opportunity to talk about loss, grief and mourning and ponder what you want your child to learn from this interview and to address how you feel about discussing this subject yourself.
If you would like to read my article on Bereavement click here => Handling Bereavement With Children
BBC Bereavement Website
If would like to watch Gordon Brown’s interview it was aired on Piers Morgan Life Stories on ITV 1
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About the author
Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.
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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert