Meeting other youngsters who know exactly how they feel has been the “light at the end of the tunnel” for brothers James and Adam Ball.
They lost their dad, Phil, suddenly, in 2013, aged just 36.
Adam was eight years old and James, then 11, was just preparing to attend Penwortham Priory Academy when the tragedy happened.
But whilst their life fell to pieces, they were given a lifeline through Bereavement Support Group at Royal Preston Hospital. Its continual support has proved invaluable.
James, now 15, of Penwortham, says: “The group gives us an opportunity to be normal as we are with other people in the same situation.
“It is great to sit down and openly talk about it with people who know what you are going through.
“We are able to talk about our feelings and not be judged.
“We do various things, such as writing letters to our loved ones and we see how much we have moved on, in comparison to when we first joined.
“There is a whole range of activities based around bereavement, so it is always varied. It really does help.
“We would not be where we are without it.”
James has channelled his grief into something even more positive by fund-raising for Bereavement Support Group.
He ran the Preston 5k last September and raised £197 through sponsorship.
He adds: “I was ecstatic that I raised so much, We get a lot of emotional support from our family, but for people to dig deep out of their own pockets to sponsor me is very humbling.
“At the time grief engulfs you and you can’t see anything else.
“But going to Bereavement Support Group enabled us to have a laugh and talk about it. We come back home a lot happier and with a clearer mind.
“I want to make sure the group remains for other people so it is important for me to raise money.
“The group has really helped me and my brother.”
James’s mum, Hazel, 35, says: “When Phil died, people could not fully comprehend what we were going through. Our world had ended.
“But Bereavement Support Group made the boys feel normal. They were not children who had gone through bereavement but they were lads talking to other lads. Without that they would not have come so far.
“The charity really is the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t want Phil’s death to define them and luckily Bereavement Support Group gave them something a bit lighter.
“They get so much out of it. I would urge anyone who is suffering from bereavement of any kind to give it a go and get support.”
Meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at Heartbeat, Sir Tom Finney Way, Preston, from 6pm until 7.30pm.
Anyone wishing to attend can call 01772 523730.
Individual bereavement support sessions and telephone support are also available by arrangement.
For more information visit http://www.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk/cayp