Losing a parent as a child is both devastating and unimaginable. Their innocent and happy childhood has been shattered and they face the harsh end of life as they knew it. For Lucy Clark, it was a tough time, but she is using her own painful experiences to help children deal with their grief.
Lucy was just 11 when her mum, Gillian Allcock, died in 1993.
Gillian had been diagnosed with Thymic Carcinoma, which is a malignant cancer of the thymus, the year before.
Lucy, now 35, and living in Lostock Hall, says: “I would not say I completely understood about cancer but my family were quite open about it. I was aware things were not good.
“I have two older sisters, Joanne Shirtcliffe, 38, and Claire Morrell, 37, and it was really hard to see each other suffer and watching my dad struggle.
“The fact mum had cancer was always there, and although we tried to carry on as normal, it was always at the back of our minds, not knowing what it would bring.”
Whilst the family did not turn to any bereavement support, they had a strong group of friends to keep them going.
Lucy adds: “We were living in Buxton and we had a very good group of friends.
“Teachers kept an eye on me and friends’ mums invited me for tea.
“The difficulty I had was that I was coming to the end of primary school and I started secondary school three months after my mum had passed away.
“I then had different friendship groups and teachers didn’t know what had happened.
“As mum had been the primary carer, dad, Michael, was now on his own, making sure we had everything we needed. He did a great job.
“I think it would have helped having support from a bereavement charity. It is nice to know people are there for you.
“I was very lucky - my sisters were my rock. If it had not been for them, it could have been a different story.
“Mum’s death made me think differently about things. You grow up very quickly and you realise what really is important and you appreciate things more.”
Lucy was reading media studies at De Montford University in Leicester in 2001 when she received a call that her dad had taken ill.
He died three days later, aged 47.
She adds: “Dad’s death was very sudden and such a shock. There was no warning. He was poorly and passed away three days later.
“It did bring everything back for us. It now meant there was just me and my sisters left and that was quite hard. I still had my grandparents, but they were quite elderly.”
Lucy, a mother-of-two, finished her degree and currently works at Mini’s Play Centre, in Preston, as its marketing manager.
Last year she became a volunteer for Bereavement Support Group.
She adds: “I agreed to do a few hours at the bereavement centre at Royal Preston Hospital and the support group on Thursdays. The more I spoke to Helen Bradley, the Bereavement and donation co-ordinator at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, the more I wanted to help out and I became a trustee too.
“My past taught me a lot and I thought I could use this to help someone else.
“My experiences have made me a positive person but it could have gone the other way,
“If people don’t channel their feelings it can lead to issues later on in life. Some people may be able to manage on their own, but some can’t.
“Those feelings won’t go away.”
Lucy is now aiming to raise funds and awareness for the support and is training for the Southport Triathlon, which takes place on May 21.
She has the full support of her employee and colleagues at Mini’s who are also organising fund-raising events.
She adds: “I had the same tumour as mum in my chest, but luckily it was benign. In December 2013 I had to have the tumour removed.
“I had a second chance - it could easily have gone the other way. As a result, I made it a challenge to myself to keep up my fitness and so I entered the triathlon. I am a runner, but I am a rubbish swimmer and cyclist. But if I train hard, I am sure I will do it.”
To make a donation to Bereavement Support Group visit http://www.facebook.com/minisplaycentre/
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
For related articles click here http://www.lep.co.uk/news/how-bereavement-support-group-has-helped-brothers-james-and-adam-1-8361341