Grief Memories Single Parenting

Mother’s Day . . . . . . . . . . . . without Mum

on
March 11, 2018

I want my mummy

Seeing your child sobbing uncontrollably is something that is always hard to see and so very hard to deal with, but to see them crying over something you have absolutely no power to change is heart breaking.

I had put Ethan to bed on Tuesday night at his usual time of half past seven. He wasn’t feeling well. After the standard issue of a spoonful of Calpol we went through our now usual bedtime routine of sharing a mummy memory each – his, this night, was her cuddles, mine was her smile – and then I said a prayer. As I kissed him goodnight and told him how much I loved him I could tell as I left the bedroom that it wasn’t just his stomachache making him unhappy. Before my feet had reached the bottom stair I could hear him sobbing. I ran back up and he was beside himself. As I held him and kissed him I asked what was wrong. The words he said next are the words that many a Dad hears plenty of times – “I want Mummy.” In the ‘normal’ landscape of parenthood these are words we understand, these are words we’re used to being able to act on. In the eight years before it would have been nothing more than a shout down the stairs and up Gemma would have come to sooth his tears and provide that wonderful and unique motherly care and love. Except since November life has been anything but normal. Mummy is no longer here.

For so much of the past fifteen weeks Ethan has amazed me with how he’s coping with the sudden death of his mum at just forty years old. He’s been brave; he’s been strong and has not cried nearly as much as I had expected. This, as I’ve found out from the brilliant guys at Daisy’s Dream who are providing counselling for Ethan (https://www.daisysdream.org.uk), is very normal. One thing I have learnt in the short time since she left us is that kids do grief very differently to adults. The best analogy I’ve heard is that for children grief is like jumping in and out of puddles. For a brief moment they are in the puddle – they’re missing the person they’ve lost, they’re sad, they worry about the future and they wonder what life is going to look like without them. But as soon as the pain from these thoughts becomes too much they jump out of the puddle and distract themselves, in Ethan’s case with Lego, or drawing or another session of Minecraft on the PlayStation. But this night felt different. It was the most upset and distressed I’ve seen him since the night mummy died. It was impossibly hard to watch.

As I lay next to him and held him in my arms all that was reverberating through my mind was this brutal truth – the one thing he craved was the one thing I simply cannot change – I can’t bring his mummy back.

It’s the stuff of nightmares for any parent. The question on my mind was how on earth do I help him through this? Saying it’s going to be OK (even though I believe one day it will be) seemed hopelessly inadequate – all I could think to do was to keep telling him time and time again that I loved him and how proud I was of him. Though it was impossibly hard to say, I told him how much mummy loved him, and how utterly proud she always was of him and how proud she would be now. I whispered in his ear how brave he’s been. I whispered how many family and friends love him and are cheering him on, even people he doesn’t know. I told him how amazingly strong he’s been and I kept on telling him that together, we will get through this. Eventually the sobs began to quieten, the tears began to dry, and before long I had brought a small smile back to his face and the hint of a laugh as I trotted out one of Daddy’s repertoire of silly voices.

Gemma and Ethan (1 of 5)

Since those tears we’ve talked together about that night. I’ve asked him what it was that made him so upset, and although he’s not been able to say exactly what it was I don’t think it’s too hard to work out. For nearly all of us as kids when we were ill the first person we wanted to come and hold us, reassure us and comfort us was our mum. Even now as an adult when I’m ill I sometimes miss the loving care of my mother. For Ethan that night, it hit him in a fresh and acutely painful way – the actual reality of mum no longer being here. As his tears flowed, his contorted face expressed that agony. As I struggle with her absence and all the pain, worries and fears that now inhabit the depths of my soul, I can’t begin to even imagine what it’s like for Ethan. What’s going through his mind? How does he even begin to process what’s happened – one moment his mum was here feeling like she had the flu, three days later she was gone, never to return.

Sometimes I think back to a night when I was only about seven and we were living in rural West Norfolk in a village called Grimston. It was a very foggy evening and my dad had driven to a meeting a few villages away, mum was already worried about him going. He wasn’t going to be back late but he ended up being back very late. The fog was so bad on those country roads that he had to drive at a snails pace home. In those pre-mobile phone days we had no idea whether he was OK or not. He did eventually arrive back home, but even now, all these many years later I can remember the look of worry etched on my mum’s face, and I can remember the very real worry we all had that something awful had happened. Now I look at Ethan and see a boy for whom the worst nightmare of every child has become real.

And this is the single biggest part of this tragedy that I struggle with the most. How can my boy no longer have a mum when he’s only eight? I know kids can be remarkably resilient, but how can he face the rest of his childhood without her? The other day on Twitter a rather unhelpful chap told me to be thankful for what I had because there are children in Syria growing up without a mum or a dad. This line of argument is one I have never bought. Yes it’s always good to have perspective in life, but if you take the ‘there’s always someone worse off than you’ argument to its logical conclusion then we wouldn’t be allowed to feel bad about anything. What’s happened to Ethan is deeply unfair (like life is for countless kids) but is that sense of injustice for him redundant because far worse things are happening to other kids? Like Gemma did, I have shed tears watching the situation in Syria unfold over the past few years, and I can’t even begin to imagine the horrors the children in that country have been put through, but does that therefore invalidate the horror of losing his mum for Ethan – of course it doesn’t.

One of the many bedtime conversations we’ve had over the past few weeks was particularly difficult to have. As Ethan lay there one night he started talking about his sadness at all the things he’s hopefully got to come in life. He talked about passing his exams, he talked about the day he leaves school, getting his first job, getting married and then he said this one heart breaking line – “and Mummy’s not going to be here to see any of them.” I could have adopted my Twitter ‘follower’s’ advice and just said well you’ve still got me, you should count your blessings. The truth is it broke my heart as I imagined all those big life moments for Ethan that his mum should be there to see, but won’t. It’s difficult enough to try and get your head around, but the hardest part is that you can do absolutely nothing to change it.

There are so many things in life we can try and find solutions for – we can throw money or time or effort at them to try and change the narrative, but when death comes calling there is nothing you can do. From an earthly perspective it’s as final as it gets.

As a Christian I’ve had lots of lovely, well meaning people saying Gemma’s in no more pain, she’s free from her suffering, she’s in heaven, and whilst I believe this with all of my heart and mind, it does nothing to alleviate the pain Ethan is in. It might give him hope but it does absolutely nothing to change the agony of the here and now. As he said to me the other night, I’ve got a long long time to wait before I see Mummy again. Having seen Gemma have her life robbed from her at only forty, I can only hope and pray it is a long wait for him.

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But it’s not just Ethan and I who miss her so much, so do her family and friends. For Wendy, Gemma’s mum, this will be the hardest of Mother’s Day’s. Whilst she’ll have the comfort of her other daughter Rebecca, there will be one card, one bunch of flowers (we have bought her some) and one significant person missing this year – her eldest daughter. Every parent’s worst nightmare is seeing their kids go before them, and nearly four months ago this nightmare became real for Wendy. To watch your own daughter die in hospital is something no parent should ever have to go through, but sadly so many do. The woman who forty years ago went through the pain of labour and witnessed her daughters first breath, also had to watch her daughters final breath, and like me and the other family and friends who had gathered round her bed that Friday all we could do was pray, we were helpless. I will never find out why those prayers went unanswered, but that day we all lost a precious lady, a selfless wife, a love-filled mum, a rock-like daughter and sister, and the most loyal of friends. Here are a few stories that in the simplest of ways show why it is so very hard for all of us to live without her.

A woman of compassion

It was Christmas day the year before last. We had just got back from church and the festive aromas of Christmas dinner were already wafting through the house. As Michael Bublé’s Christmas album sang out for about the twenty-sixth time that week and the prosecco was poured, my wife began creating her magic in the kitchen. When I married Gemma back in 2005, I knew she was a pretty good cook, it was only as we moved in together for the first time after our honeymoon that I realised just how good. She had this amazing ability to be able to rustle up a delicious dish or cake in no time at all. Our kitchen shelves still lie heavy under the weight of the cookbooks she amassed over the years, with Jamie Oliver’s numerous books taking up the most shelf space! Sadly, my limited cooking skills will leave most of them forever more untouched and unread.

As she got to work on the finishing touches for Christmas lunch 2016, something strange began to happen. Tears began to flow from her eyes – there wasn’t an onion in sight! I asked her what on earth was wrong – she’d barely drunk any of her fizz so it couldn’t be that. It turned out her tears were for a lady called Debbie. Debbie is a woman in her 40’s who had begun coming to our church in Reading a few months before and had struck up an immediate friendship with Gemma. Debbie is someone for whom life has dealt her some very tough blows; from abusive relationships to an on-going battle with alcohol that was born out of the mental scars that these blows had inflicted. But in Gemma she found a person and a friend who didn’t judge her, but instead held out a hand of friendship, compassion and love.

Debbie wasn’t always an easy person to be around, but Gemma showed her a level of love and patience that I wish I had a fraction of. I remember one night being in bed, it was about half eleven, I had just switched off the bedside light and as our heads hit the pillow Gemma’s phone began ringing. It was Debbie. She had been to her ex’s house for the evening and it hadn’t turned out to be a very wise move. She’d had too much to drink, there’d been an argument, and now she found herself on the street outside in the cold, with no money to get a taxi home. Initially I could see that Gemma wasn’t exactly over the moon to be taking yet another late night call; but rather than tell Debbie it wasn’t her problem, she asked Debbie to hold the line and turned to me and explained what was going on. She felt we should help and pay for a cab to go and get her and take her home. Initially I was a bit annoyed. Why should we be helping her out when yet again she’d hit the booze and put herself in an avoidable situation? In truth, this was a selfish reaction. Alcoholism is an illness. Debbie had been deeply scarred psychologically over the course of her life, and the bottle had understandably become her way of numbing that intense, relentless pain. Reluctantly I agreed to Gemma’s wish and a few minutes later a cab arrived at our house, and my wife walked down our drive in her dressing gown and slippers to give him the money for the fare. An hour or so later Debbie called to say she was home safe and sound, and Gemma and I were able to sleep knowing she wouldn’t be walking the freezing streets of Reading trying to get home. But Gemma’s love for Debbie didn’t end there.

As those tears flowed on that Christmas day she told us what had upset her. As we had left church that morning Gemma had bumped into Debbie in her usual spot after church – on the wall outside smoking a rollie. What transpired from that conversation was that Debbie was going to be spending Christmas day alone in her flat, and Gemma was crying tears for her. She couldn’t bear the thought of the lovely day and food we were about to enjoy with her friend up the road sat on her own. Whilst many would be worrying about the turkey burning Gemma was thinking about others. I remember looking at her and being struck by her selflessness and her compassion. A few minutes later Gemma’s mum and myself were getting in the car and collecting Debbie, to bring her back to enjoy Christmas Day with us, and it was wonderful. Not just because Debbie had a day to remember, but because of what it meant to my dear wife. You could see a smile of joy on her face that she had been able to turn a day of loneliness and undoubted pain for her friend into a Christmas she would always remember – a day when someone reached out to her and made her feel valued, accepted and loved.

Like me, Gemma had a Christian faith, and when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he said this – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” Gemma’s tears were that commandment and that Jesus shaped compassion in action. She could have focussed on just making sure her family and friends were well fed and looked after; but instead her focus was also on the need of a friend who needed to experience that love that Jesus talked about. And this was Gemma in a nutshell – putting others before herself.

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(Image courtesy Freedom House/Flickr)

And it was the suffering of others that inspired her to start a project at out church last year. Over the course of those weeks when the Syrian refugee crisis occupied a rightful place on the national news agenda, Gemma and I would often sit there watching the ten o clock news witnessing this horrific humanitarian crisis unfold. We, like so many, were moved by the almost nightly tales of desperate people packed like sardines into barely sea worthy boats, making the dangerous break for freedom across the Mediterranean Sea, and as we sadly saw so often, for too many it ended in tragedy. But as the tears welled in Gemma’s eyes they weren’t just tears of sympathy, they were tears that sparked a fire in her heart to do something about it.

Hers wasn’t an easy, social media hash tag kind of sympathy, it was a situation that in her own small way she wanted to do something about.

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Gemma speaking at Greyfriars Church at the refugee project launch

Over the following weeks and months Gemma pioneered a refugee project at our church with the aim of bringing a Syrian family to Reading, where they would be rehoused and resettled here until the day would hopefully come when they could return to their homeland. Last May she launched the project at our church, and along with a team of volunteers she was putting everything in place, including a house for them to live in, with the aim of a family arriving some time later this year. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but she would often talk to me about how much she was looking forward to the day we would drive to the airport to meet the family and bring them to our hometown. I was looking forward to it too, not just to meet the family, but to see the look of happiness and joy on Gemma’s face as those months of hard work came to wonderful fruition.

A Syrian family will still come to Reading, and in many ways it will be a beautiful legacy to Gemma’s heart and vision, but it will also be a hugely sad day as that family will never get to meet the woman whose heart was moved by their story, and Gemma won’t be here to see her vision realised. If I can get to the end of my days having shown half the love and compassion that she did in those forty short years, I’ll have done well.

Mother’s Day

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When you lose a loved one people often talk about firsts – the first time you leave the house without them, the first time you go down to the shops, the first time you go away, the first birthday, the first anniversary – the list is almost endless, and today Mother’s Day is another poignant one. I know, like so many of these kind of days in the calendar, it has become ever more commercial; but for lots of us it’s simply a day for giving mum a bit of love, and thanking her for all she means to us. This year, like all the others (nearly) I have sent the card and ordered the flowers and once again written to my mum how much I love her. I’ve had forty five years of being able to do this (OK I wasn’t sending flowers aged two!), but at the age of just eight, Ethan no longer has a mum to make feel special on this day, and to tell once again how much he loves her.

And for many, like Ethan, this day will be tough. So tough. For some it will be the day they remember a mum no longer with them. That chair they once filled round the kitchen table now lies painfully empty. It may have been years ago since they passed away but the pain of that loss and the emptiness of her absence will still be as hard as it ever was. For many women and men it will be a day when they mourn the child they have not been able to have. For others it may be a day mourning the mother they never got to know. Or the mum for whom bringing up a child was too much and had to leave them to a life in foster care, or with a loving adopted family. But for some it will be a painful day for very different reasons. It will be a day when the pain and hurt of a broken relationship with their mum will be hard to bear, and the disappointment of those lost years will be especially poignant. As I’ve discovered in the most painful way possible, life is too short, sometimes way too short, maybe this Mothers Day it could be time to finally swallow that pride, stretch out the hand of forgiveness, and start building those bridges again with the person who brought you into this world.

I read this week some words by Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert. So often I hear him talking with his infectious enthusiasm about ISA’s or energy deals, but this week I heard him talking about something you can’t put a value on – the loss of his mother in a horse riding accident when he was just eleven years old. Amongst the many moving things he spoke about in his interview on BBC Radio 5 Live he said this about Mother’s Day:

“It is far better to remember the wonderful person that you lost than to remember that you lost a wonderful person.”

Fifteen weeks ago, like Martin, my boy Ethan lost his mum. I hope that on Mothers Day in the years to come we will be remembering Gemma as the wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend that we’ve lost, but this year it’s still all too raw. Whilst we will try and remember her for the love that she poured into our lives, we will still remember the way she was torn away from us in such a brutal and cruel manner.

On Thursday I Tweeted this:

“I’m writing a blog for Mother’s Day. If you could describe what your mum means to you or meant to you in ONE word, what would it be?”

Of the many many replies I had, I wrote down the words that featured most in the replies, and with the help of some artistic design from Ethan, here below are some of those lovely and powerful words.

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To mums reading this I hope today is a day when you feel loved and cherished. For those mums for whom today is going to be hard I hope that now or in the years to come you will know love again, and for those for whom today will resonate with the pain of the absence of a mother now gone, I hope that it will be a day that even if it’s just for a moment, you’re able to follow Martin’s example and remember and savour the mum you lost.

God bless and have a lovely day.

Simon x

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85 Comments
  1. Michelle

    March 11, 2018

    Hope you have the best day that you can and that times get a bit easier for you both x

  2. Ruth

    March 11, 2018

    You are amazing – you are able and willing to encourage others in your grief, may God bless your day too. Praying that today, you and Ethan will discover something new to do as you remember together and as you take care of each other today.

  3. Paul Wilcox

    March 11, 2018

    Morning, Simon. I have read all your blogs, listened to your eulogy at Gemma’s service and I pray for you and Ethan regularly. This is possibly small comfort to you, but I just want you to know that your honesty and vulnerability at this time is a gift to so many who might struggle to put what they are going through into words. As a mentor/coach of guys, many of whom are significant influencers/leaders, I am so aware of the pressure they feel to ‘be strong’ and ‘keep your chin. up’, but that is not the healthy way and you are modelling a different and more authentic way, which is so much needed in our day. So thank you and God bless you, Paul.

  4. Emilia

    March 11, 2018

    Woooow this is very emotiona I am crying here and my boys are asking me why I’m crying,Losing a mother ain’t easy and it’s not the same growing up as an opharn ain’t easy but God knows the best,My sons name is Ethan and I know that your Ethan will surely pull through.God bless you both and continue doing your best as a dad.

  5. Kerry Falltrick

    March 11, 2018

    Wow just wow!
    What a moving poignant superbly written piece
    Thnking of you and dear Ethan on his first Mothers Day without his mummy
    You continue to amaze and inspire and I am thinking if you both and sending virtual hugs
    🌟💙💙🌟

  6. Tracy Sidney-Jones

    March 11, 2018

    Beautiful ❤️

  7. Louise schilt (@93Horsemad)

    March 11, 2018

    Hi Simon and Ethan, I know today will be tougher than any other day has been or will be my own mum is in London with my godmother today on their annual weekend away together for my mums birthday which is on the 26th of this month she has something very difficult happening on her birthday it’s the PIR meeting about my brother that day which I think is harsh but I’m going to be as supportive as I can it’s another birthday without him for her and another day without him for me no one can change what’s happened as much as we would all love to wouldn’t we? I know I sound like a broken record but I do understand completely where you both are with this right now having experienced every emotion from loosing my brother and best friend in the public way that I did the pain hasn’t gone away in fact it’s more intense this year for me than it has been I’m going to stay with my auntie this week to just get away from home and the remainder that Jacob is never coming home.
    ‘Lord Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change’ I can’t remember the rest of it but it’s something I live by it comforts me when my parents can’t because I miss Jacob so much.
    Ethan is a lucky boy to have you as a dad you’ve been simply amazing and you inspire me everyday and I think of you both when I am missing Jacob and you help me to appreciate how short and precious life can be. Lots of love as always xxx

  8. margie

    March 11, 2018

    Heartbreaking for u and your son,hes only a baby to be going through such heartbreak,you will both comfort each other today,life is so unfair somtimes,take care 💗💕💗💕💗xx

  9. Annelies

    March 11, 2018

    So full of pain, but so beautifully written. You’r making your Gemma so proud, by honouring her the way you do. Knowing your Gemma a little bit through your posts, I can only think what an wonderful lady she must have been. A lovely mummy to Ethan, your rock and support in all the things you did, especially when life wasn’t easy for you and so full of love and help for others who needed her. Such an inmense loss for you, for Ethan, for her family and her friends.
    I hope the love and support from the people around you, from your friends and from all your instagram friends will help you to make the little steps forwards. Ethan and you are doing so well in this so tough time! Take care best daddy in the world: the two of you are loved by so many! xx Annelies

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you – and for your love and support too x

  10. Bisi

    March 11, 2018

    I’ve sent an email about this post but just want to say how wonderful it was to read about Gemma’s beautiful heart that so beautifully reflected the love of Christ. Thank you for sharing
    Praying for you and Ethan always ❤

  11. Maggie Williams

    March 11, 2018

    I will be much in prayer for you and Ethan today. Thank you for your honest writings.
    God Bless,
    Maggie

  12. SimonShorten

    March 11, 2018

    Simon, again, thank you. Your inspiration is phenomenal. Continuing to hold you and your dear son in prayer

  13. Ruth Silver

    March 11, 2018

    Hello Simon, Thank you for your blog and tweets and also your radio interview. Sharing as you do helps someone like me start to understand a little of the loss you and Ethan and many others feel. I hope that it will help me to be more compassionate in the future. You and Ethan are in my prayers not only today but in the coming weeks and months. God bless you both.
    Ruth

  14. somewayhome

    March 11, 2018

    Morning Simon,

    You should have a listen to Weep With Me by Rend Collective.

    “What’s true in the light is still true in the dark.”

    I hope there’ll be some light for you both in what I’m sure is going to be a terribly sad day.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you. I’ve got that song on my playlist.

  15. ustome

    March 11, 2018

    Sending you love and prayers today Ethan xx

  16. Anonymous

    March 11, 2018

    Hi Simon,

    I’ve been reading your tweets and posts over the past few weeks, and unfortunately can relate to lots of what you talk about. My wife passed away on Nov 20th from a blood cancer (multiple myeloma), just 18 months after being diagnosed. She was 44 years old and we have 5 children. Our eldest is 11, our youngest is just one (we found out my wife was pregnant on the same she was diagnosed). Trying to do the normal feels very hollow, because it’s not normal to be without your best friend and someone I looked forward to spending the rest of my life with. Today is a tough day, but so has been every other day since last November. I do hope, like yourself, that in time things will get better. What will always be there is the love that a family has for the epicentre of that unit, the mum. Take care.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you so much and I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. Devastating. God Bless.

  17. Mel

    March 11, 2018

    Simon your words are just so beautiful. You sharing your words is such a comfort for so many people. And you are an amazing father. Thank you.

  18. Margaret Iddon

    March 11, 2018

    Sending love n hugs.

  19. Alison

    March 11, 2018

    To Simon and Ethan,
    I would never have found your wonderful link if it had not been for the fact I was looking at Stuart Fergus’ tweets today.
    As I read your tweets Simon this overwhelming grief filled me which made me want to write to you both.
    Ethan, as you get older your bucket loads of wonderful memories of your Mummy will fill your heart with happiness and so make you smile.I am sure your brave and very loving Daddy tells you this all the time.
    To you both the pain will ease.
    Time helps and laughter will fill your lives again.
    You have each other and the powerful bond you share will see you though the trials and tribulations that life throws at you.
    However nothing stays the same and life for you both will get better.
    Love and light to you both.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Alison x

  20. Kathy

    March 11, 2018

    Simon it sounds like Gemma was a real diamond of a person. You and Ethan have lost someone wonderful. But she would be so proud of how you are both managing. I’m sorry poor little Ethan is feeling unwell today and I hope he feels well soon. Sending you love and the strength to continue making the life you’ve been given as good as it can be for you and your boy. Xx

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      She was. Thank you so much x

  21. Anne Booth

    March 11, 2018

    Dear Simon and Ethan,

    I send you love on this very very hard day for you and I will be lighting a candle at church tonight. I am so sorry your beautiful mum and wife has died and I will be thinking of you and praying for you often. xx There are no words to say which can alter the facts at the moment, but I hope that love will get you both through this somehow – and it is obviously how full of love Gemma was. What an inspiring person – I can understand how especially hard it has been for you to lose her. How beautiful that she cared for others so much. I am a mum – I will remember her and try to follow her example.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you so much Anne x

  22. Judy

    March 11, 2018

    Dear Simon

    What a wonderful moving piece. You and Ethan have suffered an immeasurable loss. Hopefully in time the pain will become easier to bear. Gemma sounds like a wonderful woman, so selfless and thoughtful. She will never be forgotten.

  23. Andy

    March 11, 2018

    Powerful writing Simon, thanks for sharing, a day to celebrate now & in the future someone who has clearly shaped you both into fine men and part of God’s mighty army. May Gemma’s presence always shine through you in all you do. Best Wishes & hope Ethan feels better soon.

  24. Philip Cole

    March 11, 2018

    Thanks for sharing, it’s a huge help for me since you began writing. This help took on a huge significance on 3 March, as my dad died after a short illness. Your faith and your assurance is helping me cope. I hope and pray that God will be with both our families as the weeks and months go by.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Phil. I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad – heartbreaking. God Bless you.

  25. Hilary bone

    March 11, 2018

    Thank you Simon again beautifully written and yes today is a hard day thankfully I was atwork
    Tomorrow is a new day
    Live and hugs to teamthomas x

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Hilary x

  26. Liz Smitj

    March 11, 2018

    I prayed this today for you and Ethan. Isaiah 40v11.
    Thank you for sharing your journey. I continue to pray for you as you walk the valleys, and that the times of overwhelming sadness and pain will gradually be replaced with joy.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thanks you Liz xxx

  27. Chris Wilson

    March 11, 2018

    Simon & Ethan all our thoughts are with you today. Stay strong for each other.

  28. Mark Jackson

    March 11, 2018

    Hi Simon, just to say your courage is inspirational, As a father myself,I can’t imagine your pain, keep your chin up mate, your a brilliant dad and one day Ethan will tell you, god bless both of you x

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thanks Mark. God Bless.

  29. fiona

    March 11, 2018

    God has not Promised by Annie Johnson Flint

    God has not promised skies always blue,
    flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
    God has not promised sun without rain,
    Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
    God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
    swift easy travel heeding no guide;
    God has not promised that we shall not bear
    many a burden, many a care.

    But God has promised strength for the day,
    rest for the labour, light for the way,
    Grace for the trials, help from above
    unfailing sympathy, undying love.

    Simon and Ethan, I really hope you find a little bit of comfort in these words as I do so often when I grieve the losses I have experienced in life and both of my parents at a relatively young age x

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Fiona these are lovely and true words. God Bless x

  30. Hollin

    March 11, 2018

    What a beautiful woman she was. I cannot fathom what the past four months have been like for you and your family, but your response- parituclarly publicly- has been so admirable. I hope Mother’s Day brought you both some joy thinking about the life of your wife and Ethan’s Mum.
    Praying for deep comfort in what was likely to be one difficult day.

  31. Vinny H

    March 11, 2018

    Hi Simon, your heart wrenching messages and tweets about life for you and Ethan without your amazing wife Gemma, are so powerful. Add to these the Radio 5 Live features by Tony Livesey, including interviews with Martin Lewis and Jonathan Walters, which describe the anguish of losing your Mum when young, I was moved to drive 350 miles round trip today to spend 4 hours with my ageing Mum – thank you so much! Mum has recently been diagnosed with Dementia and I realise that by this time next year she might not remember me 😢 If you hadn’t taken the time to share the pain that you and Ethan are suffering I probably wouldn’t have got my backside in gear. Stay strong and keep sharing as you are inspiring many people. Vinny x

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Vinny I’m so glad you’ve taken something from the stuff I write. I’m never sure whether what I wrote will resonate with people. I really hope you’re able to cope with the heartbreak of seeing your mum like this. Its a very tough road. God Bless mate.

  32. Em

    March 11, 2018

    What a beautiful post, and I know the grief and pain will hit even more today . You and Ethan have such a strong bond, you will get each other through each day. Gemma sounds like such a lovely, inspiring, caring wife and mum. As a single parent you just have to make sure you give double the love and hugs.
    Hope Ethan feels better.
    Xx

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Em – we always have lots of hugs xx

  33. Hazel

    March 11, 2018

    Tough day, thinking of you both! x

  34. Marlene Watson

    March 11, 2018

    This is so raw and real. My heart bleeds for you and your little boy. We lost my husband and father when my kids were aged 13, 12 and my son was 8. I have wished Father’s day never existed. At schools in South Africa, kids make cards and gifts for parents on Mother’s day and Father”s day. For my son it has been painful each year. I gave him a journal in which to write whatever he felt he wanted to say to his daddy. This has helped him a lot. Praying for you as I know how difficult this is and praying for your son. I know the helpless feeling at seeing a child in so much pain and there is no way to take it away. Be strong. You are doing a great job.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Marlene. Am so sorry for your loss. God Bless xx

  35. Barbara

    March 11, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your story and the beautiful remembrance of Gemma. Love doesn’t die .God bless you and Ethan.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thank you Barbara x

  36. Joy

    March 11, 2018

    Your loving arms are such a gift to wrap around your precious son. God bless you both.

  37. Ruth

    March 11, 2018

    I couldn’t read this until tonight as I knew I’d probably shed a tear. What an honest piece. I have a son who is 9 and we have had a lovely day together, but I was very aware that Ethan, and sadly many other children don’t have their mummy with them. It wasn’t only Gemma that was kind, generous and sensitive Simon, you are proving that you are all those things too. May God give you the strength to carry on your amazing support of Ethan, and others in a similar place

  38. victoriawhyte

    March 11, 2018

    Beautifully written ❤️

  39. Leana Conway

    March 11, 2018

    Prayers, from a Canadian living in Georgia. I have been a caregiver of a quadriplegic for 15 years, I often find myself in my mind going to dark places thinking of one he may pass. Your blog so full of pain and honesty has helped me to remember to be present right now with my husband. I do not what know what tomorrow brings like you and I we are here today. I don’t pretend to know any of the pain you’re going through but I’m a big believer in projects! May I humbly suggest that you and Ethan make a list of things you would like to do in memory of Gemma before next year or in five months or whatever timeframe you feel you want to give yourself. Maybe acts of love and kindness, maybe building something, maybe starting a scholarship, planting a garden i’m sure you’re clever little boy would have plenty of ideas how he could honor his mother. I profoundly apologize if this suggestion is insensitive or trivial. As I said I have not walked in your shoes and will not judge any words or actions you may take. Sending prayers of strength and hope to you and your beautiful little boy.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Hi Leana – thanks so much. We are working / planning lots of adventures all the time xx

  40. Colin

    March 11, 2018

    Hi Simon, I only know you from TV mostly Sky Sports News. I read about your sad news at the end of last year and my heart truly goes out to you and Ethan. I’m a father of two boys, 3 & 1/2 years and 9 months – their mum is everything to them. Tonight I sat and watched the old firm game after making the decision mother’s day was more important than a game of football. We all went out for lunch then a bit of shopping. Having now watched the highlights I realise I was now thinking loads about the game all day and not paying as much attention to the most important things.

    I’ve read your story tonight and not just shed a tear, I’ve howled. You are so strong to endure all that you have and I know there is not much anyone can say to you that you haven’t already heard. If ever Ethan needed you now is the time and through time it won’t hurt as much, I hope. Reading your blog has opened my eyes a little and I wish you and your boy all the best for the future. Oh, and ignore all the thunder cunts that spout their nonsense on Social Media. Who cares what they think.

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Thanks mate – what a phrase!!

  41. Lynn

    March 12, 2018

    So beautifully written and straight from the heart. Ethan has lost his Mum in person but she’s still with him safe in your heart. Your heart is beating as two and she will guide you. She will be looking down at every step of his life and proudly saying “that’s my boy” and to you she’ll be saying “thank you, love you” I wish you and Ethan nothing but live and good luck in the future

  42. Claire

    March 12, 2018

    Just beautiful.

    We just lost our beautiful friend last week, at 36 with a great husband and two young children life seems terribly cruel.

    But your blogs are helping us so much and we thank you for that.

    Xxx

    • agriefshared

      March 12, 2018

      Hi Claire – am so sorry to hear this. I’m glad what I’ve written is helping. God Bless xx

  43. Louise

    March 12, 2018

    Thank you for sharing Simon. Lots of love to you and your beautiful boy Ethan. God bless x

  44. Mary Simpson

    March 12, 2018

    Praying for you and Ethan often since hearing this news.

  45. Alison

    March 14, 2018

    Hi Simon, please don’t underestimate how much you must be helping Ethan simply by being with him when he is so upset and letting him share with you how he is feeling. That must be so incredibly hard for you but you’re obviously doing it really well. I think when we hear the pain of others our first instinct is to try and fix it, but from my own experience, when I’m in a painful place I need someone to really listen (and to hold my hand). Then I feel they are with me and I feel less alone. When people try and ‘make things alright’ with well-meaning suggestions, it actually can make you feel more alone.

  46. Karen

    March 15, 2018

    Just spent the last hour reading through your blog and your writing is brilliant and gives us such an insight into Gemma and your lives which is so personal – so thank you.
    I then balled my eyes out as the references to Mother’s Day and pain resonates so much and I never enjoy the day even though I have 3 boys now myself …
    your doing an amazing job and Ethan is so lucky to have you as his daddy.
    Remember to have the time you need for yourself too
    Xx 🤗🤗💞

  47. Lucy

    March 16, 2018

    This is such a beautifully written post. Your wife is an amazing person & its no wonder you love & miss her so much. It is even more painful to watch your child in pain from grief – I think you are the most amazing father & doing more than the best you can. I lost my 16 year old daughter & so I do know it is the greatest agony to lose someone you love so totally who is so full of life & with so much to offer. I really struggle with my faith now & I deeply admire & envy you for holding on to yours. Keep writing – I think you have a calling. Warmest wishes

  48. Lucy

    March 16, 2018

    Very moving

  49. Rachael Birch

    March 20, 2018

    You are right. One person’s suffering does not negate another’s. We all say stupid things sometimes and we also say things that we hope are comforting because we feel the need to say SOMETHING but often don’t know what. I’m sorry if any of my comments have ever been stupid and I’m sorry for the comments of others that might have brought you pain. You are both doing so well. X

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