“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum. The experience I have had is that, once you start talking about it, you realise that you’re actually part of a big club.”
That’s what Prince Harry made plain in his recent admission that he’d struggled with grief following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, for many years.
Kelsey knows exactly what that feels like.
When the bombshell was dropped that her father had committed suicide when she was very young, Kelsey couldn’t cope. Hearing news like that is difficult to process. In school, she’d run away, throw chairs and was known to fight other students in her moments of anger. Kelsey was crying out for help.
And then she met Suzie.
Suzie was a TLG Early Intervention coach from the local church and began to meet with Kelsey regularly. Early on, she would only share good stuff with Suzie. “Everything’s good,” she’d say, not admitting the hurt that she was bearing.
Dad was always going to be a difficult subject to bring in. And Suzie never pushed the topic, allowing Kelsey to bring it up when she was ready. But as they talked, Suzie was able to give her the space to process everything she’d been through. For Kelsey, knowing that whether she was good or bad, Suzie was committed to her had a huge impact on her grieving process.
Unbeknown to Kelsey, two of the other children in her form had also lost a parent. Suzie was able to coach Kelsey in understanding that she wasn’t alone.
“We make it so that we speak about Dad once every couple of weeks. Happy or sad,” says Suzie. “Her whole attitude is completely different now. It’s scary to think where she might be if she hadn’t had a coach – I think there’d definitely have been a lot more school exclusions.”
The support that Kelsey and her family have received from the church has meant so much to them. Because of the relationship they now have with Suzie, they are starting to connect into a regular group at the church and are beginning to discover the incredible sense of family that church offers.
It’s estimated that around 41,000 children aged 0-17 lose a parent each year in the UK. That’s 112 children every day.
What if, just like Kelsey and Prince Harry, those children have somebody to listen? What if just a caring adult who’s willing to give one hour every week could be the difference between a child not just surviving, but thriving.
Maybe it’s time for your church to join with TLG in giving children in your community somebody that can listen.