Gransnet forums


LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 25-Sep-15 11:29:43

Bereavement: Who supports the grandparents?

We hear from grandmother Margaret, who lost her 17 year old granddaughter to cancer a year ago. While supporting her daughter through the loss of her child, Margaret tells us how Rainbow Trust Children's Charity reminded her that someone was there for her, too.


Bereavement: Who supports the grandparents?

Posted on: Fri 25-Sep-15 11:29:43


Lead photo

Who supports the grandparents when a family loses a child?

In July 2013, Anna, my granddaughter, was rushed into hospital where a lumbar puncture revealed that she had leukaemia. She was just sixteen.

Anna had always been so pale and often unwell and she suffered with a lot of pains in her legs and body but the GP thought nothing of it – it was only when she went into hospital that doctors realised that all of these symptoms were related.

I contacted Rainbow Trust Children's Charity when I saw a poster on the ward explaining how they supported families with a seriously ill child. After an assessment, Lesley, one of the Manchester team's Family Support Workers started supporting me. I don't drive, so Lesley would take me to the hospital to visit Anna and she'd spend time with me on the ward while I stayed with Anna. I could talk to her about how I felt without worrying about upsetting her like I did with my daughter.

Anna received treatment in hospital for eight weeks which was thankfully successful and she went into remission. She still had regular hospital appointments so Nicola, my daughter and Anna's mother, or I would take her. Anna hated taking tablets and going to hospital all the time, she used to say to me, "Nan, I feel like an old lady taking all these tablets, not a 16 year old girl." That was so sad to hear from my granddaughter.

Rainbow Trust and Lesley still support me, she takes me to the cemetery and I can talk to her and I can cry with her. She knows what my family and I have been through and she'll be here for as long as I need her.

She was in and out of hospital for a while and then in April 2014, Nicola took her to the clinic for a scheduled appointment. When she got there Anna was sent straight to the hospital. They told Nicola that she only had eight weeks to live. I was so angry I was not there for her when she heard such awful news. When I got to the hospital, I asked Anna what they had said, she told me, "They said I'm going to die. They've given me eight weeks." It was so sad hearing that from my precious grandchild. It's still hard just thinking about it.

Later when Anna was admitted to hospital Nicola and I took it in turns staying with her in her room. I often asked her if she wanted me there and she'd tell me, "You're alright Nan. You stay here, you're my family." I was with her when she passed away.

All I can do now is be there for Nicola and the family. It's been a year since Anna passed away. I have good days and bad days but not a day goes by that I don't cry. I cry every day and I cry every night. My bedroom is filled with photos of Anna but I have to be strong for Nicola.

Rainbow Trust and Lesley still support me, she takes me to the cemetery and I can talk to her and I can cry with her. She knows what my family and I have been through and she'll be here for as long as I need her.

Last year on what would have been Anna's 18th birthday, we went to the cemetery and released balloons – we did the same for her at Christmas. I talk to Anna all the time. I have so many lovely memories of her – she was a cadet and she dreamed of being in the army. She was so smart in her uniform, I was so proud of her.

Rainbow Trust Children's Charity provides emotional and practical support for families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness. More information can be found on their website.

By Margaret

Twitter: @RainbowTrustCC

BearandCardigan Sat 10-Oct-15 18:01:23

That was very hard to read, I can't imagine how hard it must be to lose a grandchild. I am glad you found someone to support you and continues to support you. Do you talk to your daughter about Anna? I don't think it would be a bad thing to cry with her too. Wishing you the best in the future.

Grannyknot Sat 10-Oct-15 18:58:11

I read this blog post when it was first published and I realise now that I didn't comment. I was so sad I had no words.

Luckygirl Sat 10-Oct-15 19:02:28

How very hard for you and all the family. I am so glad that you have fund some good support.

annsixty Sat 10-Oct-15 19:17:21

My DGD is 16 and I wept when I read this. My sincere sympathy to you all, It is something we hope will never happen and to you it has,and could happen to us all.

grannyqueenie Sat 10-Oct-15 20:01:07

It's a hard call losing such a young person and very hard to watch your own child suffer too. After all they are still our babies no matter how old they are.
Grandparents are often the forgotten mourners when families lose a child, I'm glad you have had good support from Rainbow, Margaret. I had a lot of contact with them when I was at work, I think they're a brilliant organization
You're so right Annsixty, it could happen to anyone of us. Huge respect and compassion are due to those in the midst of such sadness flowers

Anya Sat 10-Oct-15 20:50:05

There's no real support for grandparents, or aunts and uncles.

grannyqueenie Sat 10-Oct-15 23:02:32

The Child Death Helpline, offer suppot to anyone affected by the death of a child. But not everyone is comfortable accessing help in that way. Some childrens hospices offer a bit of support for grandparents . But yes Anya it's not adequate and other relatives and close friends of the family can struggle too.