And then you went back again with the two elder children.
For the actual camp yes. And at the camp the children are taken off and are looked after and meet other children, about 20 other children bereaved by suicide, whether it’s siblings or parents. It’s mostly parents [who have died]. And then there’s a parents' group and that was.
By camp does it take place in a hotel or quite literally a camp?
It’s in a house in the Forest of Dean that the children stay in. So they’re really in a building but it’s called camp. And the parents stay in a very nice bed and breakfast and we have our sessions in a local school. But in the evening, it was only one evening, Saturday evening we went back to a very nice bed and breakfast and there were alternative therapies for the mums in the evening which was lovely.
What sort of alternative therapies?
Head massage or Bach flower remedies. (…) And there was aromatherapy. It was; it was a lot of touching. Not I mean, because I mean that’s one thing we all said that we missed, just another grown up touching us.
I can understand that.
And it was good to meet other people. We haven’t seen each other since. We’d seen each other the once since the camp but I felt that some real friendships were forged. There were deep bonds of understanding and pain and all the stories were different.
And the children, what did they make of it all?
They the children, well certainly our children haven’t kept in contact with other children, but again for them to meet other people bereaved by suicide to know that they weren’t abnormal, to know that they could have fun again. And just to know that this happens to lots of mummies and daddies. It’s not unusual.
Did they tell you what they’d done?
What did happen?
They did archery. They did clay throwing, throwing bits of clay at; they’d drawn up a wall with angry words on it. They’d had a candle lighting ceremony. They’d had made a film script of the last few days of the life of the person who had died. And there were some, they’d draw drawings and there were some quite difficult pictures on there. There was one of, for our middle son, of closed doors because he said, you know, “In those last few weeks daddy and you were always talking behind closed doors.” There was a picture of us arguing but I pointed out it was daddy would normally say nothing. It was mummy who was shouting and who was crying at daddy. I think it was hugely helpful for them.
What sort of age group would you say it was most suitable for?
Well 8s probably to 14s, something like that. It runs from 5 to 16 and although our youngest fitted the age bill they just felt that it’s, he was just, he was 6½, they didn’t feel, well actually, no, he was nearly 6¾, that he was old enough to cope with it because when we had the assessment he walked around the room. He sucked his thumb. He cried. He was recently assessed. We went down only a few weeks ago and he’s going on the November camp.
Will you go again with him?
I will take him down but I don’t go on the parents’ camp again. You only go on the parents’ camp once. So I will be in Cheltenham with, for him but I won’t be specifically doing the camp.