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Today is National Bereaved Parents Day, a time to recognise and raise awareness for parents and carers whose child has died.

At Helen & Douglas House, we understand the pain of losing a child. Our dedicated bereavement team is here to support families following the death of their child. We are able to offer bereavement support groups, in-memory events, remembrance and celebration days, and provide useful resources to help families navigate through their difficult time.

We spoke to Michaela, whose son Finley passed away in May 2023. Finley was a regular visitor to the hospice over his life and died aged 14. Just over a year after his death, Michaela shared her journey with us. She reflected on her experience of Helen & Douglas House, her grief over the past year, and offers advice to other parents coping with the loss of a child. 

Our experience of Helen & Douglas House

“Our experience with Helen & Douglas House has been nothing but spectacular. Everyone has been so kind and supportive, not just to Finley, but to all our family. The hospice has been a lifeline in our journey with Finley.


We first came to Helen & Douglas House when Finley was around 18 months old. We were referred there by the medical teams in the John Radcliffe Hospital. This was to help us manage Finley’s life-limiting condition.


Finley loved being able to do exactly what he wanted. He mostly enjoyed using the Art room at the hospice and playing the Xbox and PlayStation. And as he got older, he really liked the VR headset.”

josh with his mum at HDH_1500x1000

Our personal bereavement journey

“When Finley passed away our whole world fell apart. Even though we knew he had a life-limiting condition, each year that he was alive meant that we felt more relaxed that it wouldn’t happen. When he died, we were devastated that it happened so quickly.”

What helped us cope when it was most challenging

“Our journey so far has been a big learning curve. Lots of firsts, lots of loneliness and mental numbness, not believing it’s true. So many emotions, anger, sadness, disbelief, denial, and ‘what if’s’ and could we have changed the outcome? The most challenging part is accepting and coping with the situation.

josh with his mum at HDH_1500x1000

How we honour and remember Finley

“We remember Finley every day. I always say good morning and goodnight to him, and I talk to him during the day. This keeps him in my everyday life. As a family. we always include him in our daily routine not physically of course, but carrying photos around with us, so we can see his smiling face.”

Chris hiking up a mountain in the snow

How Helen & Douglas House has supported our family during this journey

“We have been lucky to have the support of Helen & Douglas House who provided us with the chance to engage with other families going through the same thing as us.”

Chris hiking up a mountain in the snow

A message I would like to share with other bereaved parents on National Bereaved Parents Day?

“To other parents, I’d like to say, PLEASE remember, you are not alone in your grieving situation, reach out to others, there are so many of us parents in the same situation. Look for and contact others who know exactly what you are going through. You can talk things through, share your feelings with others going through the same thing and understand what you are going through.”

We would like to thank Michaela for sharing her story. We hope that this may help provide some comfort for those experiencing the loss of a child. We understand that today and every day is difficult, but at Helen & Douglas House, we’re here to help support you through this challenging time.