How we’re helping nine year old Tyler through his loss

When somebody we love dies, the loss can have untold impact as we try to cope with their absence. For young people, this process can be incredibly difficult. At the Marie Curie Hospice, West Midlands, a new enchanted fairy garden has just been opened providing a safe and calm space for children receiving bereavement support.

Tyler talks about the support he received during the official opening of the hospice fairy garden

One of the children who receives support from the hospice is nine year old Tyler, who was deeply affected by the loss of his beloved grandma, Jennifer. Tyler’s mum, Tracy, explains how hard this loss was for her son, and how Ann Scanlon, Young Person’s Bereavement Counselor, and the team at the West Midlands hospice supported Tyler and the family.

“When you receive the devastating news that the person you love has terminal cancer, there are no words to describe how you feel. When my mum, Jennifer, was being cared for in the hospice, she spoke to Ann about the support Tyler would need. They shared a special bond, and it gave Mum a tremendous amount of peace knowing her grandson would receive help from Ann through the difficult times ahead.

"My happy outgoing boy started to disappear"

“Tyler has Asperger’s and dyspraxia, and Ann started to support him through counselling sessions whilst my mum was still in the hospice. When my mum passed away, Ann helped Tyler face the funeral, to be able to ask questions, and to give him a safe space where he felt able to talk.

“Unfortunately the reality of his grandma no longer being with us hit Tyler hard. He fell into a depression, and my happy outgoing boy started to disappear and withdraw into himself. Eventually Tyler was diagnosed with depression and anxiety caused by his grief.

“With Ann's help, Tyler's needs were beginning to be heard. Slowly, and with lots of love, my son is returning. The support the family counselling gives to the children is priceless. Often their parents are grieving too, and the counselling offers the children a safe place to talk without worrying about saying something that will upset their family.”

"We must recognise chldren in the grieving process"

In a remarkable act of bravery, Tyler volunteered to speak at the opening of the Fairy Garden at the West Midlands hospice, and spoke about his grandma and the support he and the other children receive at the hospice. Ann was there by Tyler’s side, and explained how the new fairy garden will help support children affected by bereavement: “Many children who experience grief can feel guilty about having fun and being ‘normal’. This garden will help the children we support relax, play and just be kids again.

“People don’t always think of younger children when they think of a hospice, but I work with lots of young people before and after their special person has died. It’s vital that we recognise them in the grieving process.”

Find out more about supporting a young person through grief when someone dies, or if you want to talk to someone, you can call the Marie Curie Support Line on 0800 090 2309*. It's open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday, or you can use our Marie Curie Community  .  

*Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Your call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.