Mum's mission to help bereaved families says: '˜There is life after grief'

A mother who endured an '˜unimaginable loss' when her daughter died is reaching out to other bereaved families.

Monday, 22nd August 2016, 10:35 am
Updated Monday, 22nd August 2016, 12:40 pm
Bronwyn Evans, right, with daughter Chelsea Palmer, 13, and son Storm, 16

Bronwyn Evans, 34, lost her daughter Roxy suddenly at the age of four-and-a-half on October 20, 2007, leaving the mother-of-three and partner Wayne Palmer devastated.

The youngster, who was born 11 weeks early on May 4, 2003, had spastic quadraplegic cerebral palsy as well as severe learning and developmental delay, which also affects her twin sister Chelsea.

After the loss of their oldest twin, the couple struggled to come to terms with their grief and the months that followed passed in a blur.

Bronwyn's daughter Roxy as a baby

Bronwyn, who is also mum to 16-year-old son Storm, internalised her feelings and carried on for the sake of her surviving children.

The brave mum admits she had never spoken to another bereaved parent in the nearly nine years since Roxy’s passing – until she was told about The Compassionate Friends (TCF).

Bronwyn explained: “I injured my back earlier this year and I had to take part in a ‘Fit For Work’ programme, and I got talking to a lady who was helping me.

“The loss of Roxy came up, and then the lady told me about The Compassionate Friends.

Bronwyn's daughter Roxy as a baby

“I gave them a call, but they told me they had no branch in Hertfordshire.

“So I found myself saying ‘Well, if I set one up would you help me?’”

And that is exactly what she has done. After attending training sessions in London, Bronwyn is now ready to support those who have experienced the unimaginable sorrow of losing a child.

Her two-hour sessions will be held around once a month at Grovehill Youth Centre in Stevenage Rise, Hemel Hempstead.

Bronwyn, who is hoping to study mental health at university in the future, said: “It’s nice and quiet there, so we won’t be disturbed.

“They are very caring and compassionate people and every single one of them has experienced the death of a child.

“The volunteers that run these groups have been in that place and that is so important.

“Parents can speak to a contact that knows what they are going through.

“It’s so difficult to put into words, what that would have meant to me when we lost Roxy.

“In the early days, I did not want to talk to anyone. Nothing anyone said would have made me feel better.

“I felt like it was the end of the world.”

The branch covers all of Hertfordshire and is there to support all parents who have lost a child, at any age and in any circumstances.

Bronwyn, who works as a systems analyst, said: “We do not categorise the grief. It doesn’t matter whether your child was murdered or took their own life.

“Even if the circumstances are taboo, the loss is still the same.

“You think ‘Is this normal? Am I normal?’ and I want to tell people that yes, it is normal.

“Being in that place does not make you weak or any less of a person.”

Bronwyn has already spoken to several bereaved families in the Hemel area but is looking to reach out to more people in need.

“I want to tell people that there is life after grief. We have survived it,” she said.

If you want to speak to Bronwyn, or know of someone who does, then email her on [email protected] or call the national helpline on 0345 123 2304, who will put you in touch.

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) was set up by two families in 1969, following the death of their two respective sons.

In May 1968, Joe and Iris Lawley lost their son Kenneth in a road traffic accident, and Bill and Joan Henderson’s son Billy died from cancer a few days later.

The two families helped each other through the tragedies and decided they wanted to help others.

Now TCF supports thousands of bereaved parents each year, with online support, a telephone helpline and face-to-face meetings.

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