Bereavement: Debbie, Darren and Philip’s Story

The family were referred to us by their school.  Darren (7 years) and Philip’s (4 years) dad had died four years earlier, just after Philip was born.  Both children were displaying very challenging behaviour and Debbie was finding them difficult to cope with at home.

Darren was trying hard to be the ‘man of the house’ and feeling he should be taking on responsibility.

Mum, Debbie, was exhausted, had low self-esteem and felt she was failing as a parent since being bereaved.

What did we do?

We began visiting them for 2 hours a week.  The volunteer brought activities with her that the four of them could do together. She enabled Debbie to have some quality 1:1 time with each of the children and by playing games, talking and laughing together they brought some of the ‘fun’ back into parenting.

The volunteer built a trusting relationship with Debbie and enabled her to see that parenting is tough, let alone doing it single handed, whilst trying to manage the children’s bereavement, as well as her own.

By offering Debbie reassurance and positive reinforcement, she was able to recognise that seeking extra support was not a weakness and would be helpful.

Debbie was able to build a better relationship with the school, who gained a better awareness of the difficulties at home.

The volunteer also supported Debbie to engage with the bereavement service for Darren so that he got the support he needed.

What difference did we make?

By building a trusting relationship where Debbie didn’t feel judged, she was able to feel confident enough to ask for the extra help that she needed for the children around their bereavement and their behaviour.

She was able to establish a better relationship with the school, so they became more aware of the family’s difficulties, so could offer extra support for the children. Debbie gained the confidence to say which support she found helpful and unhelpful and so ways that it might be changed were able to be considered.

Our unique home-based, non-judgemental, compassionate and confidential support, meant that we were there for the whole family, when they needed it the most.

*Names have been changed

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