Stanley, 10, and Lydia, 6, from Chapel-en-le-Frith started to attend bereavement play therapy sessions at Blythe House in late 2020, after their Daddy, Stuart tragically took his own life.
Lisa, Stanley and Lydia’s Mum, explains: ‘Myself, the children and all the family were devastated by the news of Stuart’s death. I didn’t know how to deliver the news to Stanley and Lydia about their Daddy, but I sought support from Winston’s Wish [a charity that Blythe House works closely with and uses resources from]. The charity provided a book to help me to understand how to explain what had happened to Stuart.
‘Later on that year, several family members and friends suggested I contact Blythe House for some counselling support for the children. Stanley started to attend first, with Lydia beginning sessions not long after. They both just absolutely loved coming here, and made really good bonds with their counsellors.
‘The pair of them brought items to their sessions to show to the counsellors and to talk about, for example teddy bears made from Stuart’s shirts, and cushions that I got them for Christmas with his photograph on them.
‘Stanley really embraced the arts and crafts element of his play therapy sessions. Art was never one of his main “strengths” but he has loved making things that remind him of his Dad. He’s drawn things, made a sand jar with different coloured layers representing different memories, and filled out an activity book called Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine, made especially for bereaved children.
‘He was studying space at school, and during one of his sessions, Stanley made a rocket out of play dough. His counsellor, Annabel asked him questions like “If this rocket could go to visit Daddy, what would it say?”
‘Before he started the counselling sessions, Stanley had feelings of anger and struggled to express his emotions. Annabel supported Stanley to find strategies for how to cope, and now, he seems so much better and much more content.
‘Lydia loved her sessions with her counsellor, Rachel. She made keyrings with coloured sands and enjoyed playing with the doll’s house. I think Lydia just loved having free rein of the play room and enjoyed being able to do what she wanted to in that space.
‘When the children finished their programmes, the counsellors gave them presents including Easter eggs and other treats. It was such a lovely gesture and we were so grateful.
‘We’ve never gone through grief, but as a family we are getting through it together. We haven’t been afraid to share our feelings. The situation has obviously been made much worse with the pandemic and the lockdowns. We haven’t been able to see our family and friends as normal, but we’ve been keeping in touch as much as possible.
‘I truly feel if the children hadn’t have been able to continue going to school – having that routine and seeing their friends – and coming to Blythe House, that they wouldn’t be doing as well as they are doing now. Christmas time was hard, as it’s Stanley’s birthday the week before too, but we made sure to speak about Stuart during Christmas Day with his parents, and we all had a lovely day, despite the sadness of his absence.
‘To other parents or carers of children who may need support, the first thing I’d say is contact Blythe House in a heartbeat. I can’t big up the hospice enough, and I know they’ve had an amazing time. It’s an outstanding, invaluable local service and I feel so grateful and lucky that it’s on our doorstep.’
(Cover photo is artwork created by Lydia during her counselling sessions).