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"How do you tell an 8 and 11 year old that they will never see their dad again?”
Read the blog from mum, Tracy, and her children, Caitlin and Cameron, that shares how Cruse Scotland was there to support them after their dad died during the festive break.
November 27, 2023
This Christmas we’re asking you to help children in Scotland whose lives have been shattered by the death of someone close by making a donation to help us meet the demand on our vital Children & Young People's bereavement service.
There can be many unthinkable, long lasting consequences for young people who need additional support with their grief, but don’t receive it. Your donation will have a huge positive impact on the future of many bereaved children.
Here brother and sister, Caitlin and Cameron, along with their mum Tracy, share the impact that their dad’s sudden death had on their wellbeing and mental health and how the support from Cruse Scotland gave them hope again.
“It was New Year’s day. We were celebrating with friends, full of hope for the future and all that the new year would bring.”
“Shaun mentioned earlier that morning that he didn't feel 100% but he still wanted to go ahead as we had been hosting the event for several years and it had become a bit of a tradition.“
“We all enjoyed a delicious three course meal before getting ourselves settled to watch a movie together. A few minutes later our lives would turned upside down, as Shaun suddenly collapsed on our son Cameron and had stopped breathing.“
“It took about 40 minutes for the paramedics to reach us. It felt like a life time. They took over the CPR and I was asked to speak to the police officers in the kitchen. Still in a deep state of shock, I answered their questions to the best of my ability then after a short time, was notified that Shaun had died.“
“We later learned that Shaun’s cause of death, at the age of 35, was Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy which had been undiagnosed.”
“Breaking the news to Caitlin and Cameron was the hardest and most difficult thing I have ever had to do. How do you tell an 8 and 11 year old that they will never see their dad again?”
“Cameron said very little after that, but something he did say to me was; “I am the man of the house now.” I reassured him that we would be okay and encouraged him to open up. He couldn’t find the words. Our friends would also encourage him but to no avail. He found it hard to concentrate at school.“
“After six weeks we went to the dentist and he was so distracted he walked out onto the street in front of a car. He was very fortunate not to be run over and this was when I realised that we needed help. I looked online and found Cruse Scotland and contacted them for advice.“
“Cameron started receiving support shortly after with the Cruse Scotland volunteer, Irene. Within a few weeks, he started to open up and was able to accept that he didn’t have to take on the role of ‘the man of the house.’ He started to be able to talk about his dad and the memories we shared as a family. His schoolwork improved and he started to be a child again.”
“Seeing the changes immediately in Cameron gave me such a huge relief. I do believe that without the support from Cruse Scotland Cameron would have continued to suffer with his mental health through his adolescence.”
“Caitlin managed okay at the start, but it wasn’t until the following year that I noticed she was beginning to struggle. She was Daddy's little girl and it was apparent she missed him.”
“We were so grateful that Irene was also confirmed to support Caitlin and that her emotional well-being improved with each session. She met a new group of friends and continued her education.”
“Before the session with Irene I was just trying to just get on with things. At the time, I didn’t really want to talk about it with anyone and I didn’t want to upset Mum by bringing it up. Talking with Irene helped me process what had happened and how I was feeling. It helped to just get the emotions out and to stop bottling them up.”
“The first Christmas without dad was really hard, especially as he died at that time of year and his anniversary was coming up. We didn’t really know what to do. I wanted things to be the same but they couldn’t be. It was so difficult.”
“On the anniversary of dad’s death we usually visit the place we spread his ashes, and go for a walk together and sometime we lay flowers. It’s our way of remembering him. I like lighting a candle when I’m thinking about him too.”
“Cruse Scotland provide such beneficial support and their volunteer Irene helped me through a very hard time in my life and helped my family a lot too.”
“I was eight at the time of my dad’s death and I didn’t want to speak about it at the start.”
“It took me a little while to open up to discuss anything. I remember playing with Lego and making a sand jar with Irene and then after a while, I felt comfortable to talk about how I was feeling. Looking back I feel that this was very beneficial to my mental health.”
“The first Christmas without dad was tough, but because of this help, I was able to enjoy it and not feel guilty.”
"We also scattered his ashes there on the 5th anniversary of his death.”
“Thank you to Cruse Scotland and Irene for all of your support. It helped me through my childhood.”
“I can’t thank Cruse Scotland enough. The charity helped us grow as a family, especially as we have no family in Scotland. Each of the counsellors devotes their own time to help others and they are a godsend to its success.”
“Irene and her ‘Grandma-like qualities’ with my children made them feel welcome, giving them the opportunity to work through their grief in a calm and controlled manner and in their own time. She gave me the confidence to parent my children through their grief and indirectly helped me with my own. You are simply amazing, Irene.”
Demand for our services has increased and we desperately need to train more specialists – like Irene - to provide our bereavement support to children and young people.
Unless we can build more resource to cope with the demand, the likelihood is we ultimately have to turn people in need - like Tracy, Caitlin and Cameron – away. Please help us to ensure that does not happen.
No matter the amount you can afford to give, your donation will offer hope and vital support to many grieving families.
To read more of our family stories, tips to support grieving children over the festive period, and more, visit our Christmas Appeal page.