Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Yesterday was Charlies 2nd birthday. 

His 2nd year as a very special little angel.

This year, to honour Charlie, Carrie wanted us all to go out and enjoy an evening together bowling.

We all came together as a family to support each other through this tough day but also to celebrate our little Angels special day.

Charlies nieces put on their beautiful party dresses, balloons were in the car ready to be inflated later for our balloon release and off we went.

We all enjoyed our evening together, with the winners being Amy and Shane. 

It was nice to see the smiles on each others faces, knowing that it was all in honour of our little man.

Carrie and her mum had arranged for all of us to receive a present in remembrance of Charlie. 

We all were given a gorgeous necklace with angel wings on and presented in a special box.

The box had the words 'My Angel' written on the lid and inside was a verse.

                          The sweet souls who love,cherish, inspire and                                   protect the angel in you, are your guardian                                         angels, they are your friends and family.

Before leaving the bowling Rhiann and Amy wanted to have a go in the amusement arcade. 
Rhiann was determined to win a small prize on the 2p machines, and she did, she said it was a present for Charlie.

After bowling we all  headed over to McDonalds and enjoyed food and more chatting. 

We finally went back to Carries home where we blew up balloons for everyone to attach a message tag to. 
There were also balloons for children whose families had asked from our remembrance page.

It was a perfect ending to a lovely evening, all standing together releasing our balloons into the sky for our Angels. 

We hope you enjoyed your special day Charlie. We all love and miss you very much. xx

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Bereavement leave

When we lost Charlie the last thing on any of our minds was returning to work. 
We were trying to get through each day as well as we could and i'm not sure if any of us could have functioned properly in work. 
We were lucky in the fact that it was over the Christmas and New Year period so there were some public holidays in there.

The current UK Law currently has no statutory bereavement leave entitlement.
Most employers set their own, and can vary from paid to unpaid leave. 
Most employers seem to offer 3 days paid leave but there are some that will only offer this if the person who died was a close family member. 
This also applies to leave for the funeral, if the person was not a close family member you would have to take the time off unpaid or use your holiday entitlement.
They document what constitutes a close family member but for some people these are not appropriate. 
People who have been bought up by someone other than their natural parents might find it difficult to get paid leave to attend their funeral. 
How ridiculous a rule is this.
No one can say which members of your family you are closest to and no one knows how close your family is. 
How can they then dictate what leave you can take.

Following Charlies death I took 4 weeks off work. 
This would have probably been longer if I hadn't been contacted by work to be told that if i didn't return my pay would be reduced.
Most families cannot afford for their wages to reduce and so return to work before they are up to it.
It seems cruel that families have to think about returning to work as they are unable to afford to be off work when they are going through one of the hardest times of their lives.
I was allowed to have a graduated return spread over a 2 week period which did help but I still found it very had returning to an environment filled with children.
I was lucky that my employer offered paid leave, although it wasn't bereavement leave. I had had to be signed off on the sick by my GP.
I was only entitled to 3 days paid bereavement leave.

My husband returned to work as his company did not offer any paid leave except for the funeral. He carried on going to work whilst trying to grieve for his grandson and support his daughter. 

In other countries the law seems to be very similar to ours 

Bereavement Leave entitlements

New Zealand
Bereavement leave of 3 paid days on the death of 7 family members (listed in the Act) after you’ve
worked for 6 months continuous employment. An employee may also be eligible for 1 day paid leave
where the employer recognises the employee has suffered a bereavement or has funeral responsibilities.
Paid at relevant daily pay. An employer can ask for proof of the bereavement.

Employees have the right to take unpaid time off to deal with a death of a dependent (e.g. a husband,
wife, partner, child, parent, or anyone living in your household as a member of the family). There is no
timeframe on this – it is as agreed with the employer and has to be ‘reasonable’.

Employees can take 2 days paid compassionate leave if a family member sustains a life-threatening
illness or death. This can be taken non-consecutively. For casuals this is unpaid.
An employer is entitled to request evidence that would substantiate the reason for leave.

South Africa
Employees who have worked for an employer for longer than 4 months (of at least 4 days a week) can
take 3 days paid family responsibility leave when the employees child is born, or sick, or on the death of
an employee’s spouse/life partner or parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or sibling.
This can be taken in whole or part days. Before paying an employer can require reasonable proof of why
the leave is required. Any unused entitlement lapses at the end of 12 months.

No entitlement by law, however employers can agree to provide paid or unpaid bereavement leave.

Key differences The UK bereavement leave is unpaid. In Australia it’s called compassionate leave & applies for

different situations to NZ law. In South Africa you only have to have worked for 4 months

It seems strange that when you have a baby you are entitled, by law, to paid maternity and paternity leave, but if you then lose that child you are only entitled to up to 3 paid days leave. 
This is also dependent on how sympathetic and understanding your employer is.

Surely the law is wrong and needs reviewing and changing.

Grief is not something that has a time limit and to suggest that people should be able to return to work after such a short period of leave is ridiculous. 
The families going through grief have enough things to worry about such as arranging funerals, dealing with paperwork as well as getting their head around life without their loved one let alone then having to think about having to return to work or lose their pay.

What experiences have you had regarding bereavement leave or having time off to attend a funeral. We would like to hear from you.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas eve is upon us again.

We will be looking up to the stars tonight and sending our Christmas love and wishes up to Charlie.

 Merry Christmas Little One

This year has flown by and I still can’t believe it will be your second Christmas in the sky. I will be keeping you in my heart and thoughts this Christmas time, you are and will be forever mine.
I imagine how you would be, understanding a little more about this time of year, running around and writing your letters to Santa. I would give you all that you dreamed of. Even now, no matter where you are.
I hope you will have the most wonderful day with the angels and you get my satellite call, to wish you, my beautiful baby boy a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Love you so much Charlie
From Mummy xxxx

Nearly two years have passed since you came into our lives and stayed with us briefly, 19 minutes that changed us forever. Even thou your not here your still a big part of our family, we often say we have 4 grandchildren 3 living 1 in heaven. Everyday we talk about you and are so proud to do so, the hardest part is not seeing you, not talking to you and watching you grow and learn new things everyday, you will all ways will be an amazing little boy who not only changed our lives but 1000's around the world, we love very much, mamma&grand dad key xxx
 Dear Charlie,

Cannot believe that this will be our 2nd Christmas without you. You were and still are a very special little boy. You bought so much love into our lives.
It is hard not being able to spend Christmas day watching you running around opening your presents and playing.
Instead we will send up our love and kisses to you in heaven. We know you will be looking down on us all, our forever angel.

Merry Christmas our Little Prince

Love you big big millions

Nanna and Granddad Curtis xx

Merry Christmas to all the angels up in heaven who are not able to spend Christmas with their families. 

We wish you all a peaceful Christmas

Monday, 22 December 2014

I have had my granddaughters stay overnight with me and as usual they fill me with great happiness and pride. 

Their little faces lighting up as they watch Christmas programmes and realise that it is now only three sleeps until Santa arrives. 

They make it feel more festive and their excitement spreads across you.
They allow you to feel festive and get a little exited yourself.

Whilst they were with me they spoke about Charlie and how they wished he could be here with us to celebrate Christmas.

Rhiann wrote a letter to Charlie whilst she was here and i would like to share it with you.

To Charlie

Have a jolly Christmas. 

I wish you were here all along because so you can meet me and Amy and I have a new sister called Mila, she is your cousin and you have an auntie and a uncle.

Hope you have a fantastic Christmas up in heaven and Santa is always watching boys and girls. 

Merry Christmas.

Love Rhiann and Amy and Mila

Rhiann and Amy talk about Charlie quite openly and it is lovely to hear them talk about how he would have fitted into our family. 

They are both very proud of their cousin and their Aunty Carrie and they would love to have Charlie here with us now to play with and join in with the family festivities.

Next Monday will be Charlies 2nd birthday and we are currently making plans to all get together and celebrate. 

We will make sure that his birthday is a day of celebration and family.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Working in a primary school at this time of year can be very special but it can also evoke a lot of emotions. 

Over the last week we have been practicing and watching nativity plays.

I have loved watching the younger children performing a traditional nativity and it gives me goosebumps seeing their little faces light up as they sing and perform.

I also found it very emotional as it made me think of Charlie even more. Imagining that it would only be a couple of years before he should be up there singing his little heart out.

I have been looking at some poems this evening and I have found a few I would like to share with you.

We are connected, My child and I,
by an invisible cord, not seen by the eye.
It's not like the cord that connects
us 'til birth 

This cord can't be seen by any on Earth.
This cord does its work right from the start.
It binds us together, attatched to my heart.
I know that it's there, though no one can see,
The invisible cord from my child to me.

The strength of this cord is hard to describe.
It can't be destroyed, it can't be denied.
It's stronger than any cord man could create,
It withstands the test, can hold any weight. 

And though you are gone,
Though you are not here with me,
The cord is still there, but no one can see. 

It pulls at my heart, I am bruised...I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline, as never before.
I am thankful that God connects us this way,
A mother and child--Death can't take it away!


There's a very special place
beyond our skies above
somewhere very peaceful
that is full of light and love
that special place is Heaven
where you're free to laugh and roam
it was your time to go there
so the angels took you home
And though you're in our thoughts
each single day throughout the year
at special times like Christmas
we all wish you could be here
now you're in a better place
your soul is laid to rest
safe with all the angels
for they only take the best


Ask my mummy anything
She tells alot of lies
She never did before
But from now on until she dies
She'll tell a whole lot more
Ask my mummy how she is and because she can't explain
She'll tell a little lie because she can't describe the pain
Ask my mummy how she is
She'll say "I'm alright"
If that's the truth then tell me why does she cry every single night?
She'll love me all her life, I loved her all of mine
But if you ask her she'll lie and say she's fine
I am here in heaven, I cannot hug her from here
If she lies to you, don't listen
Please hug her and hold her near
On the day we meet again
I'll smile and be bold
I'll say you're very lucky mummy to be here
With all those lies you told
Then I will hug you
And we will then be together, forever

I think the words are so meaningful and for anyone having gone through a loss they will be very poignant.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


What is it and what can the effects of it be. 
I have decided to write about anxiety today because there are many people effected by this, especially in the months following the loss of a loved one. 

I know that I have certainly suffered with symptoms of anxiety since we lost Charlie and I know that Charlies mummy, Carrie, also has periods when she is badly effected by anxiety. 

I have used some websites to help me with the information as I wanted to make sure that I got my information correct as well as using my own personal experiences. 

Anxiety is a normal part of life, and it can affect us all in different ways and at different times.

Whereas stress is something that will come and go as the events causing it come and go, anxiety is something that can carry on whether or not the cause is clear.
Anxiety can make a person imagine that things in their life are worse than they really are, and prevent them from confronting their fears. 
Often they will think they are going mad, or that some psychological imbalance is at the heart of their problems. 
What is important is to recognise that anxiety is normal.

The “butterflies in the stomach” feeling that many associate with anxiety is the bodies reaction to a burst of adrenalin  that our body releases as a way of getting us ready to deal with the situation that is causing the anxiety. 
This is also known as the fight or flight reaction.
It can often wrongly and inappropriately be activated in someone during normal, everyday situations when stress has built up.
Some people have a very obvious cause for their anxiety; a traumatic incident, lots of stress or have undergone a significant life event e.g. loss of a loved one, moving house. 
However, some people don’t have an obvious cause for their anxiety and this can cause them great distress. 
One way of thinking about your anxiety is to imagine your stress levels as being like a bucket of water. If we keep adding stress to the bucket (even tiny ones like the school run), over time it fills up until one day it overflows. 
This can be a good way of looking at anxiety as it explains why sometimes it can seem to come out of the blue with no significant trigger. 
However, what has happened is that the trigger was just a very small stress that tipped us over the edge and allowed our bucket to overflow. 
What we need is a leaky bucket with lots of holes in to reduce your overall stress levels. 
Each one of these holes could be something positive that you do to manage your anxiety, such as yoga, exercise, reading, listening to music or spending time with friends or family.
People often experience physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious or stressed.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety are:
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased muscle tension
  • “Jelly legs”
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation (over breathing)
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Wanting to use the toilet more often
  • Feeling sick
  • Tight band across the chest area
  • Tension headaches
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased perspiration
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Choking sensations
  • Palpitations
Some of the most common psychological symptoms (the thoughts we have) of anxiety are:
  • Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
  • Thinking that you might die
  • Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
  • Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
  • Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
  • Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
  • Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
  • Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you

The most common behavioural symptom (the things we do when we are anxious) is avoidance. 
Although avoiding an anxiety provoking situation produces immediate relief from the anxiety, it is only a short term solution. 
This means that whilst it may seem like avoiding is the best thing to do at the time, the anxiety often returns the next time that you face the situation and avoiding it will reinforce the message that there is danger. 
The problem with avoidance is that you never get to find out whether your fear about the situation and what would happen is actually true.

Anxiety can be a very debilitating condition and cause the sufferer many difficulties. You can get to the point where you do not even want to leave your home as you are scared that something bad may happen.
Many people are worried about approaching the professionals with anxiety as they think that they may be dismissed as just being a 'worrier' or a 'time waster'. 
However, with mental health becoming more understood over recent years, there is now much more understanding and acceptance of anxiety related conditions.
People suffering with anxiety need people they can talk to to reassure them that they are not going mad, or losing their marbles. 
If you know someone who is suffering with anxiety please try and spend some time with them. Just having someone around can make them feel a little better. Knowing that someone cares and accepts them can help so much.
This time of year can be a very stressful and anxiety provoking time for anyone but for those going through the loss of a loved one this can be multiplied by 100.
They have to cope with the added feelings of not being able to be with their loved ones at a very family orientated time of year.
We hope when Charlies-Angel-Centre is up and running we will be able to provide support for those people out there on their own suffering with anxiety and stress due to bereavement. 
This is our ultimate goal to provide this support to all that need it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

By the beginning of 2015 we are hoping to be able to get our registered charity number. 

Charlies-Angel-Centre will become a charity name that many people all over the country will know.

We have been going now for nearly 18 months and it has been an incredible journey so far. 

Getting our official Charity Number will be the next big step for us and we think it will be the beginning of an amazing time. 

Our hope is that once we have this number it will open up many more doors for us.

There are lots of different funds out there that we will be able to apply for which will enable us to get our centre up and running quicker.

We will also be able to approach more companies and supermarkets regarding fundraising.

At present if you do not have a charity number a lot of places will not allow you to fund raise within their stores/shops. 

We totally understand this as there are so many people out there that are prepared to scam companies for their own personal gain.

Another area that we might find easier to get backing from once we have our number is companies, celebrities or individuals. 

Once we have our number we become a more viable option for companies to possibly come on board as backers/sponsors. 

The number gives us more credibility and celebrities are more willing to look at our cause and feel able to endorse us or fund raise for us.

We would love to be able to get a big company or a celebrity on board as a supporter and endorser. 
It would give us that boost of publicity and help with our fundraising efforts.

If there are any of our blog readers who know any companies, individuals or celebrities that would like to become involved with a very worthwhile cause please point them in our direction.

Our journey still has a way to go but we are all totally committed to getting our centre open for the bereaved parents and families out there that need the support.

We know that it isn't going to be an easy journey but we are not afraid of hard work. We also know how important it is to get this kind of development up and running as there are too many families out there struggling to keep going.

We have already had to face and overcome many difficulties to get us to where we are today.

A little hard work will make the end result even more satisfying and special.

Charlie never gave up on his fight so neither will we. 
Charlie gives us the strength to keep focused and to keep going.

Monday, 8 December 2014

I had a lovely weekend spending time with my three beautiful granddaughters.

On Saturday me and their granddad took the two oldest girls to a Christmas party. 

They both looked so grown up and beautiful in their party clothes.

We watched a pantomime and played party games followed by food and more games. 

It was magical watching their little faces as they watched the show and hearing them giggle at the silly parts. 

It was a wonderful afternoon and really made it feel like Christmas is on the way.

Then on Sunday we got to spend the afternoon with our youngest granddaughter whilst her two older sisters went to the cinema. 

We had fun playing with Christmas decorations and watching Doc Mcstuffings. 

These moments are so special and make you realise just how lucky you are to have such wonderful little people in your life.

They make life feel special and give you a reason to keep functioning even when you feel like shutting yourself off from the world.

Once I had taken them home though it then makes you realise all the times we are not going to be able to share with our little Charlie.

I was imagining taking him to the panto and seeing his little face light up at all the lights and sounds. 
Then playing games and chasing balloons around the hall whilst sliding on his knees over the floor.

The Christmas period can be a very difficult time and bring such a mixture of emotions. 

Although I want to get excited and enjoy it for my granddaughters I also feel that life is very unfair not letting us be able to share Christmas's with Charlie watching him grow up.

I know we will all make sure that the girls have a magical and exciting Christmas,

but we will all be also thinking about our little prince and having moments when we have to go off and spend some quiet time. 

Charlie's 2nd birthday party, being so close to Christmas, will be an evening of spending quality family time together having fun and giving support to each other.  

We will make sure we celebrate his day in style and make him proud of how we are all keeping his memory alive and strong.

There will be so many families out there struggling with their emotions over the Christmas season as they try to carry on with life following the loss of a loved one.

If you know of such a family remember to say hello to them or wish them a peaceful Christmas. 

Too often people find it hard to say these things to grieving families as they think they will upset them. 
You won't,
they need people to acknowledge them and not avoid them. 

Sometimes just realising that others are thinking of you can help you get through the day.

Lets all show support for bereaved parents and families.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Losing someone you love is hard.

If your loved one dies around Christmas, it can be even harder to

deal with. 

The way to deal with death at Christmas is to realize that, when

someone you love dies, change is unavoidable. 

However, change can also help you get through this difficult time.

While you can't rush the grieving process, you can find ways to

make your holidays more pleasant and less stressful.

Recognize that feelings of sadness, grief and even anger may 

intensify during the holiday season. 

The added expectations can make it even harder to deal with the 

anniversary of your loved one's death.

Talk to friends and family.

Ask for and accept their emotional and practical help. 

Be honest about your feelings. 

You may not want to seem like a "downer" when everyone else

seems to be celebrating, but realize that most people are eager to


If you want to talk about your loved one, know that you can and let 

others know this.

Consider which holiday traditions may be helpful and which may 

be hurtful. 

The first holidays following a death can bring back painful 

memories and emotions and the holiday media blitz can leave you

stressed and exhausted.

If you are too conscious of the empty chair, you may want to skip

hosting Christmas dinner for the entire family. 

Or you may find comfort in this tradition and in sharing memories 

with people who were close to your loved one.

Find counseling if it is available in your area.

Your school, workplace or place of worship should be able to recommend someone. 

If cost is a concern, you can consider support groups, including Internet support groups.

Help yourself by helping someone else. 

Offer support to others affected by your loss. 

Consider making a charitable donation or give a gift in memory of 

your loved one. 

You could also volunteer at an animal shelter or another charity, 

since they are often shorthanded during the holidays.

Spend time with friends or family members. 

Invite someone to share a meal or see a concert with you. 

You could also volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter.

Simplify what you can and ask for and accept help. 

For example, if you can't deal with making turkey with all the 

trimmings, you can have pizza or pasta.

Prioritize your own needs and the needs of those who are also most 

affected by the loss. 

Do what works for you and them. 

You may find comfort in familiar surroundings or you may want to 

visit somewhere completely new.

Get through today. 

Don't worry about how you will handle the holiday next year or ten 

years from now.

By then you may want to return to certain beloved traditions and 

locations, or you may want to celebrate elsewhere or in an entirely 

different way.

Remember and honor the loved one with a special toast, a favorite 

carol, a lighted candle or a favorite photo. 

You can also write a card or letter or keep a journal of your 

thoughts and remembrances. 

In the coming years, Christmas can be a time to remember your loved one. 

You can visit a place you both loved or that the person had always 

wanted to see and see it "for" them.

Enjoy whatever you can during the holiday season.

There is no harm or disrespect in celebrating.

Your loved one would want you to find comfort where and when it comes.