Tuesday 15 November 2016

27 Month Smiles #MakeTime2Listen

Yesterday was my birthday, half way to my 'four score years and ten'. I think I have aged about 30 of those years over the last 3, and I'm probably a way ahead of where I should be now. But still I am here. Older, saggier, wrinklier and hopefully wiser. Everyone was so worried there wouldn't be cake that in fact there were 5 cakes. What could be better? Cake plus LEGO obviously - and I'm now also the proud owner of the LEGO Christmas Train...it was a really good birthday.

The past month has been so busy, I've hardly had time to think. It's a throwaway comment, but the reality in our position is in many ways welcome. It means so much more than 'I've hardly had time to think'. It means I've had opportunities to try and push everything bad to the back of my mind. I've been so busy with what is in front of me that I haven't had chance to look around. That's important because the relentlessness is the hardest bit.

Relentlessness is the hardest part about having lost someone, and the hardest part about having one of our young people ill in hospital. It's with us every second of every day. Whatever else you are doing, you can't ever escape, and you wouldn't want to forget, but to have respite from dwelling and worrying is very welcome.

The 17th to 23rd November is the UK Children's Grief Awareness Week. I need no more reminders of how their sister's death has affected my children, but they aren't the only bereaved children out there, there are over 400,000 of them.

1 in every 29 school children has lost a parent or sibling.

The theme for the week is #MakeTime2Listen – we can all make a difference to make sure that bereaved children and young people’s voices are heard. 

When their sister died, I arranged for all of our older children to see a counsellor, and we were very lucky to be given our own counsellor within a few days. She told us to listen to our children, to let them describe and talk in whatever language they needed, even if that was silence. Talking is great, but really listening is a skill I know I have, but will forever wish I had perfected.

Christmas is very much on it's way. A hard time for many, I know we are beginning to feel the weight already. We are trying though. We have been invited to all kinds of awesome places to celebrate (we've even seen Santa already!) and my little boys have almost drowned under a ton of amazing toy reviews (pyjamas and socks for Christmas boys). We have had many smiles, each one awesome.

I collect my smiles each month to prove to myself we can do it. Whenever I've wanted to give up, they have been my reminder that it really is worth carrying on. They show me sadness doesn't have to win for long, joy sneaks back in. Every smile is hope.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their smiles over the last month, they have been lovely to see and there have been some beauties. You can share your smiles using the hashtag #TBCSmiles on Instagram and Twitter. You can show you understand Children need to be listened to, by sharing #MakeTime2Listen on Twitter.

Here are our smiles - every one of them great... (click on the photo to enlarge).

I've had to turn off commenting on this post because of the volume of spam comments it attracts - if you wanted to leave a message then please feel free to contact me on a different post, or on my social media. Sorry for the inconvenience. 


  1. Beautiful smiles as always. Loving the Gary selfie too!

    It surprises me just how many children are affected by bereavement of immediate famil, a little girl in Bud's class lost her mummy a few years ago so it's something all of their class is very aware of. The #MakeTime2Listen campaign is an excellent idea.

  2. What beautiful smiles. I love seeing Gary too. Such infectious smiles. The Make Time 2 Listen campaign is excellent. It is important to talk to them about bereavement. We talk a lot about it since I lost my father before they were born, they have lots of questions. x

    1. It's such an inevitable fact of life, and surrounded by so much quiet that it can get really scary for children. It's helpful I feel for me sometimes to answer their questions too xx