Lisa – life with her daughter after husband’s sudden death

When Lisa’s partner David was killed in a car accident in 2015, their daughter was just 5 years old. He would have been 35 the following day. For three years, Lisa felt her life was a blur, with events such as school sports days torture, but then she found HOLG and sought the help she needed, for both her and their daughter.

This is their story.

“David was a larger-than-life character, one of those people that knew everyone. He had two sons from previous relationships and was a very generous, loving father and loved nothing more than to spoil his children.

On the day he died, he and Alysia had spent a lovely day out together at Diggerland. That evening, he went to meet a friend. I spoke to him on the phone at about 7.50pm. By, 8.20pm, he was dead. It was the 25th April and the next day would have been his 35th birthday.

Telling Alysia was heart-breaking. She was always Daddy’s little girl – a real princess. It was so hard to know how to help her. I just remember feeling really conscious that I didn’t know what I was doing.

The next few years were a blur

I was extremely emotional for a really long time. In fact, I feel like I lost the next couple of years after David died, it was all just a blur. There’s a lot I don’t remember, it’s like my brain has shut certain things out. I sometimes think, maybe it’s easier to lose someone if you’ve got time to prepare? But for someone to die so suddenly is just devastating. Even now, five years down the line, I can’t believe what happened.

I found school events really difficult. Sports day was just awful. I would put on a brave face for Alysia and cheer her on but inside I felt like everyone was a perfect family except us. I just felt so sorry for us both.

Finding HOLG

It wasn’t until around March 2018 that I contacted HOLG after seeing something about it on Facebook and Emily came out to visit us. From the start, they have been amazing and I’m so grateful for their help. The first event Alysia went to was a bereavement weekend and it was so good for her. She loved all the arts and crafts activities and it was so beneficial for her to be with other children who had also lost someone. It made her feel like she wasn’t the only one. The parent support group helped me so much too – just being able to talk to people who understand what you’re going through. A lot of us exchanged numbers and regularly meet up. In fact, I’m going to the wedding of one of the parents I met there.

We still get invited to lots of events and they’re all lovely. HOLG always make us feel that we’re important. We’ve been to summer parties, Christmas parties and last year we took part in the Colour Run. One event which I found particularly touching was a show about loss put on by an amateur dramatic company called ‘Badger’s Parting Gift.’ In the show, the badger dies, and it was so well done and very emotive. Afterwards, the children all made hand puppets which Alysia really enjoyed.

As Alysia gets older, the way she expresses her grief has changed. When she was little, she was very literal and would ask me things like, “Why can’t I die and see Daddy in heaven?” She finds it more difficult to talk about now and is almost a little secretive about it. She tends to write her emotions down. I’ll often find notes she’s written and messages to friends. There are times when she does get upset, usually at bedtime, and when that happens, even if I don’t contact them, it’s really reassuring to know HOLG is there if I need them.

Holding onto precious memories

One of the most important things for me is to make sure she doesn’t forget her dad. We have pictures of him everywhere and one in a locket that she wears. I tell her stories about him all the time, especially ones which she doesn’t remember from when she was very small. She also likes knowing about things we still have in the house that he bought, like our vacuum cleaner. She said to me recently that we can’t get rid of our fridge, because Daddy bought it. I’ve kept lots of things he bought for her too, like Disney dressing-up costumes.

Important dates like his birthday, Father’s Day and Christmas are getting a little easier to deal with. We don’t have a grave to visit to remember him as his ashes are with his mum, but we often take balloons and cards to where he died. We also have a memorial bench in Mote Park in Maidstone. We’re still very close to his family and go on holiday with them every year.

As time goes on, I notice people don’t mention David as much, as they feel awkward or are worried about upsetting us. I can understand that – I’ve felt like that myself with friends or family who’ve lost someone. But I like it when people talk about him. It’s invaluable to me to know that if I do want to talk, the staff at HOLG are always available and happy to listen.”