“You don’t want someone to solve your problem, because it’s unsolvable, but you want someone to be there.”
Before the death of their little boy, George, Elmira and Rupert had never heard of a bereavement suite. When George died in 2021, he was brought to The Ark to stay in our butterfly room, where they were able to say their final goodbyes in calm and peaceful surroundings.
“We knew that we needed help. We didn’t know what it would look like, or what it would feel like, but we just knew that we needed someone’s help. Being left alone was scary.”
Family Link Worker, Alex, has been supporting Rupert and Elmira on their journey ever since.
Rupert describes Alex as a voice in the fog at that time.
“The fog of palliative care, child loss and the trauma of everything means that you’re unable to see clearly or be present. Alex was able to guide us on everything, from emotional to practical things.”
Elmira recalls a poignant moment with Alex when she said to her: “I’ve got to plan my child’s funeral when I’ve never even been to one.”
As well as supporting and advising on more practical matters like making funeral arrangements, Alex also views her role as a nurturing one:
“I’m trying to do the thinking so they can do the feeling. It was really important to check in on them both – I’m here, I’m present, I’m thinking of you.”
Often, others’ discomfort around death and loss leads to feelings of isolation for many grieving families. Noah’s Ark allowed space to remember George and make new memories, even after he had died.
“There’s this problem that your friends and family think you want to be left alone, and you might even think you want to be left alone, but actually you’re so lonely at that moment.”
One of the ways Rupert and Elmira choose to remember George is by visiting his butterfly memorial tribute, placed in our Butterfly Woodland Walk.
“It was very important to have George’s butterfly. It’s like mapping him. It’s yet another place that has his presence, and there’s so few places that he had a presence.”
George now also has a little sister, Sasha. Rupert and Elmira like to visit his butterfly with her, as they promise to keep building those memories for her too, as a family.
“Now Sasha has touched that butterfly and we have photos of that butterfly through the seasons, it creates that narrative and that connection.”
Grief never ends, but changes and evolves overtime. It is our privilege to be there for families like Rupert and Elmira’s, creating a space for them to continue their relationship with their child who died, whilst supporting them as they continue to make new memories together.