Father’s Day, which takes place on Sunday 20 June, is a special day for dads to celebrate the relationship between father and child. On the morning of Father’s Day many children will be handing over hand-made gifts and cards, lovingly folded, painted and glued together. For dads like Oli, he will have the joy of spending Father’s Day with Harley, his surviving twin son and will treasure the wonderful memories of Roman who passed away in January 2020.
Twin Roman, at only a few days old, was given weeks to live. In March 2019 he came to Helen & Douglas House after being diagnosed with a rare genetic heart condition. Roman needed the hospice’s emergency medical care, and his exhausted family, after spending weeks by his side in hospital, needed emotional and practical support.
Parents Ellie and Oli came to stay at the children’s hospice with twin brother Harley, Grandma Wendy and Nanna Fran and were later supported at home by Helen & Douglas House. Sadly, in January 2020, just a few weeks after his first and last Christmas, Roman died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. The generosity of supporters meant that the team at the hospice could be there to support his family at such a sad time.
After Roman died they received a vital lifeline of support from the Helen & Douglas House bereavement support team. Roman stayed in their special air-conditioned room, without monitors or tubes, so they could take the time they needed to privately say their goodbyes to their precious baby boy.
Oli told us about his Father’s Day ‘It’s far too easy to let the days and weeks continue on autopilot. I don’t like Father’s Day to just be about me, it’s about our family. Having children is a dream for so many people and the wonder of life is a miracle. For me, Father’s Day is about appreciating the moments we have, and looking back on everything we have been through as a family to have our children, including pre-pregnancy, as well as post, and being grateful for how lucky we are.
‘For the last two Father’s Day’s Harley has been too young to understand or communicate. It’s typically been a relaxed day accompanied by a nice evening meal. This will be our third Father’s Day and will be the first where Harley can communicate with us. In reality, it will probably be a fairly usual day; if the weather is nice, we will go for a walk and take Harley to one of the local parks which he loves (sometimes more to meet other children than to play!). And I dare say, we will have several musical renditions (insert Frozen theme tune here!).
‘However, losing Roman is something we will never forget, and would never want to. I don’t think that losing a child is talked about publicly which is a shame because it’s far more common than you, and certainly more than I used to, realise. For us, there will emotion, more in-relation to all of the happy memories that Roman brought to us, rather than remembering the pain we went through when he was struggling. Roman is still a part of our lives, and we will always make sure Harley knows he has a brother ‘in the stars’.’
Becky Davis from Helen & Douglas House said ‘A few months after Roman died, the UK went into lockdown. This immediately changed the way we care for local terminally ill children and their families. Many of our children and families relied on our support but were safely shielding at home. By offering more medical and practical care at home, we have been able to continue to support more of our families and help avoid a crisis. No family should feel alone during an unthinkable crisis with their terminally ill child.’
To help us support dads like Oli and his family, please make a donation to Helen & Douglas House this Father’s Day, or buy a virtual gift for you dad. With your support, we can help families like his, who may have lost a child, feel supported all year round. From everyone at the hospice, we hope you are able to celebrate with, or remember, your dad or father figure in your life on this day and beyond.
Did you know… a donation of around £30 could help to fund just over an hour visit from one of our Outreach nurses, like a visit Roman would have had at home during his short life.
Buy a virtual gift this Father’s Day to dad’s like Oli
|Our virtual gifts are available for you to buy for Father’s Day. Sometimes it is really hard to think of original gift ideas, especially for the person who has everything. With our ‘Gifts that Give Twice’, the choice is easy.
Thank you for supporting Helen & Douglas House. These gifts are truly priceless to our children so thank you.