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Letters To The Other Chair

To the family and friends…

Knowing how to support a family member who has lost a child whilst also navigating your own grief is such a difficult task. A bereaved parent may not be able to tell you what they need, so you are left fumbling and trying to work out what may help them in their darkest hours and beyond.

In this letter to other family members, Michelle captures what she has learnt from losing her nephew Conor.  Her honesty in what has helped her personally as well as what she does to ensure that Conor remains in her heart and mind is just beautiful.

You can find Michelle on Instagram at @michellewilson66

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To the Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins and friends who support their loved ones,

My nephew Conor died before he got a chance to meet his amazing mum and dad. I hold very dear to me things….1. that I spoke to Conor in my sister’s tummy, he heard my voice and 2. that I saw him the day my inspirational sister gave birth to her precious son who she knew had already died.  I have been there for my sister and husband throughout these sad years. We are in different countries, but we are in touch every day, even if it’s just a message to say hi.

As we wait in the last weeks before we welcome my sisters 2nd rainbow baby, my role as Auntie which started on 10thAugust 2014 when Conor died has never been more important. Over the last 5 years I have listened, I have cried but most importantly I have kept the memory of Conor right at the heart of our family. I have never judged my sister and brother in law, always listened and rarely offered suggestions of advice. How would I know what to do if I was in their shoes?

Counselling has helped me be a greater support helping me to separate my life and choices, something which I struggled with initially and held a lot of guilt for. So, I work hard to make sure everyone around us remembers and knows all about Conor. My children count him in their cousins when asked and talk openly to others about him. We have pictures up of him and symbols that represent him. We write his name in the sand wherever we go and have a metal star which gets added into all the big family photos.

I can’t change the tragedy of losing Conor, I can’t take away the pain from others, but I can make a big difference by providing reassurance that we will always remember Conor. 

I don’t profess to know the right thing to do, everyone is different, however, some little bits of advice to those who don’t quite know how to support a grieving mother or father would be as follows:

  • Say their name
  • Find a symbol that can be used to represent this special family member 
  • Count them in the number of family members you have
  • Talk to others about them
  • Listen and don’t judge
  • Talk through your own feelings of grief

I think about Conor every day and we say goodnight to him every night. I wish he was here but remembering him is now my role as his auntie.

‘A flower remembered will never wither’

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