Monday, 26 December 2016

Merry Christmas

We hope you all had a peaceful Christmas and managed to spend time with your loved ones.

This time of year is always very difficult for anyone who has lost someone they loved. 
All the families are getting together and spending time with each other. 
But for those that have lost someone, they still get together with their families but there is always the feeling that someone is missing.

On Friday, 23rd December, we had our final fundraising event of the year. 
We had been allowed to do another bag packing day at our local Asda store in Middleton. 

The staff plus their Community Champion, Leigh Bell-Peirce, have shown us amazing support over the last couple of years. Asda always like to give back to their communities and we have definitely seen them do that for us.

We asked another local group, Bots and Tots, to come along with us on the day to make sure we had every till manned giving us the best chance of raising lots of money. 

Our day started at 11 am, we all arrived ready for a very busy day ahead. With it being the last but one shopping day before Christmas we were expecting it to be manic. 

We were not disappointed.

The tills were full throughout the day, there was never a time when any of us were stood waiting for people to come to the till.

We met some lovely people throughout the day and lots of them either gave money at the till or at the table where we had our wristbands and pens along with our leaflets. 

There were quite a few people who asked what we were raising money for and when we told them they then told us how thy had had a loss in their family.

We even had a few staff members who came back to see us after they had finished their shifts to come and donate or buy a wristband.

At 5pm we finished for the day, most of us had stayed at the tills for the full 6 hours, a few had had short breaks to recharge their batteries. 

We went over to the cafe to start the massive task of counting the money. The shoppers of Middleton had done us proud.

The total amount of money we raised was £585.60, which meant between the two groups we took for our charity £292.80.

At a time of year when most people need all the  money they can to make their family's Christmas special they found it in their hearts to give so much to us. 

We are always amazed and astounded by the generosity of the people we come into contact with and the people who came shopping on Friday just confirmed it.

We will be getting together in the New Year to set out our calendar of events for Charlies Angel Centre for 2017. As soon as we have the details we will let you all know. We hope you will all continue to support us help us get the support and friendship out to bereaved parents and families across the UK.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Thursday saw us host our first Charlies Christmas Memorial Evening.

It seems strange to say but we were really looking forward to the event.

Getting together with other bereaved families to give support and friendship especially at this time of year can have a real beneficial effect.

The evening started at 6.30pm but we got there earlier to set up and greet the children who were coming along to sing a song at the beginning of the evening.

We had bought a Christmas tree and some beautiful heart baubles, for families to write messages on, to hang on the tree.

Once the children had finished their song vicar Andy Myers said a few words of comfort to everyone and a fellow vicar did a reading.

We had placed an order of service and a keepsake for all the families to take away with them on the pews.

Andy then read out the names of all the 'angels' we had come to honour and as he read them out the families came up to light a candle. 
If a family had not been able to come along to the evening we lit a candle for them. It was very emotional but also lovely to see so many people coming together to honour their children.

During the evening, before we came into the church I was approached by Tracey Asquith, a lady we have come to know through her own loss and setting up of a Foundation Charity in memory of her son, Kyle. She said that she had a cheque that she wanted to give to us and she wanted to do it during the service. 

After all the candles had been lit I went up and said thank you to everyone who had come along and then invited Tracey up to pass over the cheque. 
We didn't know at this point how much the cheque was for. 
Tracey handed it to me and it took me a while before I could tell everyone how much it was for. When I looked at the amount it bought tears to my eyes, thinking that another charity could be so generous. 
They had donated a huge £500.
It still amazes me as I am writing it down now of their generosity. 
It also made us feel so proud that our 2 boys, Charlie & Kyle, have made such an impact on others lives.

Before we went into the vicarage I reminded the families that there were some baubles with beautiful card angel wings for them to write a message on and place on our tree.
When they had all been hung on the branches the tree looked amazing.

During the evening we had been selling raffle tickets, so as our final part of the event we asked the vicar to pull out all the winning tickets. We had been donated some amazing prizes and all the winners seemed to be really happy with theirs.

One of the prizes donated was 4 x breakfasts at No 28 Cafe in Middleton. The man who won it didn't live in the area so decided to give it to the vicar and asked him to give it to someone in the area that could really benefit from it. What a wonderful thing to do.

The evening had turned out to be a wonderful way for us all to come together to honour our babies and children as well as giving each other support.

The event never started out as one that would be a big fundraiser for us, but due to the generosity of The Kyle Asquith Foundation and the families that bought so many raffle tickets, we raised a massive £765.85.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped us make the night such a fantastic one. This time of year can be very hard for grieving families and coming together like we did can bring comfort and strength to each other. 

2016 has been such a great year for our charity and none of it would have been possible without the support and dedication we get from the families we work with, our trustees and our faithful supporters.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with bereavement and loss. 

People who have never experienced a loss don't always understand how anxiety can be linked to grief, and I guess I never truly appreciated how much of an impact it could have. 

Everyone can understand how a family can be feeling low and suffering with depression, it is accepted that death and depression can go together.

Anxiety on the other hand is not seen in the same way. 
In reality anxiety can be totally disabling and have longer lasting effects.

We are coming up to Charlie's 4th birthday at the end of December and many people now think that we should have all moved on. What I always say is how can you move on when there is a little boy who should be here with us but is now an angel.

I think people confuse moving on with getting over the loss and I think we have moved on. 

We will never get over the loss of Charlie and we will always ensure that he is a big part of our lives.

However we can now function on a day to day basis,whereas 3 years ago we were probably coping hour to hour.
I also think that whilst we have moved on we still do so with Charlie always in our thoughts. 

The biggest difference I would say is that now we are able to remember Charlie and talk about him without breaking down. 

When I talk about Charlie now I do so with pride and admiration for him and his mummy's fight for survival. 
I still do shed tears but I can usually keep hold of them until I am in the security of my home.

Unless you have experienced such a loss I don't think you can truly understand it.
Lots of people can empathise with you and they do so in a wonderful way and offer support and love. 
However they can never fully understand the depth of emotions stored up inside you.

Throughout the year emotions can change so quickly and you can go from feeling quite strong to feeling total despair. There will be times in the year when you come upon significant events like a birthday or mothers day and it makes functioning so much harder.

We often talk to parents and other family members that say how the hardest thing to deal with after the initial heart breaking pain is the feeling of anxiety that follows. 

Trying to cope with day to day issues such as what to have for dinner can bring on a total state of confusion and anxiousness.  

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, from sweaty palms and fast heart rate, to feeling like you are going to throw up or something dreadful is about to happen. 
When you try to explain these feelings to others it is hard to actually describe how it effects you.

Going out from the house is a major difficulty that bereaved families talk about. 

Initially you are anxious that people will know that something has happened and will react differently.
There is also the worry that friends and colleagues will try to avoid you which makes you feel anxious going back to places where you know you will bump into them.

A lot of people have said how the anxiety can suddenly take over your brain in the most random places and without warning. 
A common place seems to be the supermarket whilst doing the shopping. 
Many parents have said that suddenly in the middle of the shop they have found themselves unable to think straight or even move. 
Often they will have to call someone that can come along to help them or may have to stand there until the overwhelming fear subsides.

Never underestimate the power that anxiety can have on your life and it can affect anyone. 
It is not a condition that only affects one gender or a certain age group. 
More and more professionals are now saying that anxiety is one of the largest conditions they treat and even children are not immune.

The pressures of day to day life can result in anxiety, so throw into that a loss or a traumatic event and you can see why so many bereaved families struggle with it.

If you are a family going through a loss or bereavement remember that our charity is always there for you to talk to, and we don't mind what you want to talk to us about. 
Sometimes it is just having someone to be able to offload to or just to break the cycle of anxiety. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Since we lost Charlie in 2012 we have met some amazing families who were also going through the loss of their baby or child. 

If we had not been blessed to have had Charlie in our lives we would never have met these people, and been able to help them. 
Ideally we would not have lost Charlie but we truly believe that he was given to us for a reason and that helps us to keep going and fighting for change. 

One of the main things we have learnt is that there is no 'normal' or 'standard' way to get through a loss.

The families we have spoken with have all been at different stages of their loss some having lost their child many years ago and some that have only just lost their child.

We have also met with many different relations to the child as well, all struggling with the loss.

Some times the public thinks that the ones that should be struggling through their grief are the parents, although we have also seen that the father can get overlooked. 
If we had not been through this we would probably have also thought like that.  

The one thing we have come to realise, as a family, is that every member of the family is affected in many different ways.

Understandably the parents are the ones who feel the death most closely and painfully and the support is aimed at them, if they are lucky enough to be offered it. 

Whilst we were not given professional support we did give each other help and comfort. 

From talking with lots of families affected by death we have found that other relatives often feel that they are overlooked and seen as not needing the same help. We know that this is not true.

Every member of that family will feel the loss at some time and whilst it will all be at a different level and in a different way they will all need help to come to terms with the loss. It is not just the adults within the family that struggle either, the children will also find it difficult to deal with.

At times we felt that we didn't want to talk to each other about Charlie as we didn't want to upset each other but after time we realised that in fact it was often the total opposite. Talking about Charlie together helped us to grieve.

If you know a family that is going through a loss, however long ago it might have been, please take the time to talk to them about their child as they do want to share them and keep their memory alive. 

Just by acknowledging their child's existence can mean so much to them, and as we enter the Christmas period it can mean so much more during what can be such a difficult time of year.

And don't forget about the other members of the family, the grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts & uncles, cousins as they will also need to talk about how the loss has changed them. Asking them how they are doing is all it can take to make them see that their feelings are important to.

Grief can be overpowering and overwhelming and does change you but having supportive friends and family around you can make a real difference.