Jacob’s story

A bereaved dad has thanked the children’s hospice that helped him navigate the “unbearably sad” death of his baby son. Jacob Llewellyn was born more than three months early and spent his whole life in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

Sadly, he died at just nine weeks and one day old, in May 2013. The following day, parents Alun and Clare received much-needed support from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) at Quidenham – the charity’s former Norfolk hospice – and Jacob was brought back to The Treehouse.

It meant his family, also from Ipswich, could be closer to him and extended family could meet him for the first time. In the years that have elapsed since, they have continued to receive “amazing” support – not only practical help but also in terms of creating happy memories and keepsakes of Jacob’s life.

“Our world fell apart and we were introduced to EACH after being visited by a member of the care team at Quidenham,” said Alun.

“As blunt as it sounds, my first thought was ‘what can you possibly do to help – my son’s just died’? How wrong I was because the support we received – and have continued receiving ever since – was absolutely invaluable.

“Practical help in the early days – things like making contact with the funeral director and organising Jacob’s wake, which we held at The Treehouse – made us feel so supported. EACH’s dedicated play workers spent time with Thomas (Alun and Clare’s son, who is now 12) and gave us a way to stay close as a family at the hospice.

“Life was far from easy but those things certainly made things that little bit easier. EACH also gave us the opportunity to spend time with Jacob.

“We made memories, including taking hand and foot casts, and it was the first opportunity we’d had to be with him when he wasn’t in an incubator in a cubicle, attached to a machine. They helped us come to terms with and accept things and everyone was kind – and by that I really do mean everyone we came into contact with.

“No-one could have been more helpful and they’re special memories. Of course, I wish we’d never needed to come here but we’ll always be grateful for the support we received.”

Alun describes the support he and his wife received as “lifesaving”. Among other things, he benefitted from music therapy while Clare received bereavement counselling.

“EACH got us through a very difficult period and helped us with things I didn’t want to think about,” he said.

“The team helped us focus on the here and now and to get back on track. I couldn’t believe it and remember thinking ‘what makes us so special’?

“Because of the support and attention we received, it felt like the whole hospice was dedicated to us. Our life had been torn apart, yet here were a team of complete strangers doing everything for us. It’s hard to put into words but such extraordinary kindness.

“I can’t say thank you enough and the staff became our family. They kept us going, helping us focus on the here and now, and were there at a time in our lives when we needed them most.

“We weren’t asking for it – but the support kept coming and that continues to be the case.”

Alun and Thomas are pictured taking part in EACH’s The Piglet, Junior Hog challenge.

Published in June 2023

Families’ stories and experiences are unique to them and we have been kindly granted permission to share this family’s story. If you have been affected by what you’ve read or have a question and would like to talk to someone, please contact your local children’s hospice service or Together for Short Lives, the UK charity that supports families caring for seriously ill children (tel: 0808 8088 100).

 

Would you like us to write and share your own family story?

We give all those receiving support from EACH the opportunity to share their family story. All family members are welcome to get involved if they’d like to and we will never share your story until you are completely happy with it. If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more, please contact Matt Plummer, EACH Media and PR Manager at matt.plummer@each.org.uk.

Because of the support and attention we received, it felt like the whole hospice was dedicated to us.

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