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Life as a bereaved parent

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Melksham father shares his story.

A MELKSHAM father has written and published a book sharing his experience of life as a bereaved parent.

Bryan Clover’s new book, ‘Eggshells’ gives readers an insight into what the first year and a half of life was like for Bryan following the death of his daughter Evie, who died at the age of 13 in 2018 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. 

The book has been described as ‘brutally honest’ and a must-read for other bereaved parents who might be seeking reassurance that they are not alone in how they feel; and also the people around them that may want to help.

Money raised by the book will be split between  Evie’s Gift, the charity set up in memory of Evie by Bryan and his wife Patsy; and the Compassionate Friends, a charity that supports bereaved parents and their families – a charity that Bryan credits as a ‘lifeline’ for him and his wife.

Speaking to Melksham News, Bryan said, “The book was incredibly cathartic to write. I was able to unload what happened to us, and all the thoughts I had over that period of time. The more I wrote, the more I found it was really helpful. It’s not a self-help book – it’s me sharing my experiences.

“The book is aimed at two audiences – bereaved parents, to read it and understand that they are not on their own; and people that know somebody who is a bereaved parent – to help them overcome that problem of not knowing what to say. 

“It explains what life is like being a bereaved father, because it is so utterly different. When you lose a child it is so completely different to when you lose a parent, spouse or a sibling. Patsy and I created Evie, so when she died a bit of us died with her – people don’t get that. A lot of people think that you will just move on. 

“The book also tackles some ‘taboo’ subjects – like suicide and the feelings of suicide that almost every bereaved parent has at some point. It tackles men’s mental health and the volatility of your feelings and depression – I’m on anti-depressants and make no bones about it, I have been for a year, and can’t survive without them to be honest. And it tackles divorce – the anecdotal statistics say that 83% of bereaved parents divorce within two years – men and women grieve differently.”

Explaining how the book might help those who know a bereaved parent, Bryan said, “80% of our friends disappeared after Evie died – did you know losing a child was contagious?! I have walked down the High Street and seen people cross the road to avoid me. Most of our friends we don’t see any more – they have disappeared.

“Most people say that they don’t know what to say. They have questions like: Should I mention Evie’s name? Will you get upset? Can I mention birthdays? Can I talk about my own kids? Can I mention that my mum has cancer? They don’t know what to do – I hope that this book can help in some way.”

The book was published earlier this year, and has already proved a support to other bereaved fathers like Bryan. “The other bereaved couples that we know – the husbands are reading the book and they are realising that what they feel is normal,” said Bryan.

“I don’t blame myself for Evie’s death as she died from cancer and there is nothing you can do about that. But you feel as a father that you have failed, because you have failed to keep them alive. That was my job as a father, to keep Evie alive and get her to adulthood and set her off into the world. A lot of fathers have read that and have connected with that.”

Bryan has already started work on his second book, which he describes as more of a ‘self-help’ book to help bereaved parents.

‘Eggshells’ is available to purchase from the Evie’s Gift online shop. Visit the website for more information: www.eviesgift.org.uk /shop

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