Bobby and Freddy Brazier, who were just five and three when they very publicly lost their mum Jade Goody to cervical cancer on Mother’s Day 2009, are now 10 and eight, attending primary school and trying to grow up as any other regular little boys would.
Their father, Jeff, has candidly spoken out about his struggle to help his children deal with their grief, and has gone so far as to say he’s ‘letting the boys down’ by not taking them to see their ‘mum’s special place’ as often as perhaps he should.
Jeff, here pictured with his eldest, Bobby, has admitted he needs to do more to keep his sons’ memories of their mother alive.
We can’t imagine what it would be like to bring up a child who’s lost a parent, and we have to say we think Jeff’s honest reflections on the things he wished he’d done differently is touching. He’s actually now training to be a life coach, in order to better understand how to help his boys and to also help others in similar situations.
Writing for the Huffington Post
, some of the most poignant learnings he talks about in his blog are listed below…
1. Make a regular day on which you remember your loved one (don’t make it just on their birthday or anniversary of their death)
‘Establish plans to make them feel as close to their mother’s memory as they can. I had planned to take them to Jade’s special place once a month on, or as close as possible to, a particular day each month.’
The boys with their mum before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2008.
2. Create a comfortable environment in which your kids can talk openly about any issues
‘We would have a family meeting once a week where we discuss any issues or plan any activities ensuring mummy is brought up and discussed in whichever way they choose.’
3. Don’t lose touch with those who knew your loved one, such as grandparents and close friends
‘I thought it would be nice to invite Jade’s mother Jackiey over to stay once every month… In a similar vein, the boys’ godmothers, and Jade’s best friends, Jennifer and Kelly are important to the boys because when they are amongst that group, they feel like they are with their mum.’
Jeff has vowed to take the boys to visit ‘mum’s special place’ more regularly.
4. Attend groups where the kids can meet other bereaved children
‘I’ve had a great relationship with Grief Encounter… being around other bereaved children [has helped] them to avoid feeling lonely in grief and enabling them to make friends with others who truly understand how they are feeling.
5. Focus on the solutions and not the problems
‘Freddy losing his temper, something quite out of character, was not from a place of disobedience or petulance but from a place of frustration and sadness caused by his grief… Look forward and establish what needs to change about the way we remember.’
6. Make a scrapbook of photos telling the story of their life
‘Possibly the most wonderful thing I could think of doing for them, was a scrapbook of photos of their mum telling them the kindest story of her life and also one that would tell them of how far they have come since they lost her, so that they can feel proud and strong in the details of their achievements.’