Mothers who run group for bereaved parents

TWO mothers whose young children died have started a group to help people who have been through the same tragic experience.

Mothers Susie Hanson and Nicki Whitworth have both been through the most difficult ordeal imaginable with the loss of their young daughters, who were each born with serious health issues.

Together they run Slow, a group for bereaved parents which aims to offer a warm, friendly environment where they can talk about their suffering – and get support from people who know what they are going through.

Susie, 50, a writer, of Hornsey Lane, Archway, says: “After losing our daughters, we both felt a need for a place where we could speak to other bereaved parents going through the isolation, confusion, sadness and pain of losing a child.

“We used to meet up once a week, just the two of us, and talk. We found we just kind of managed to get through the week to get to that precious bit of time we had to speak about not just our girls, but everything really.”

Her daughter Bella was born with major heart problems and diagnosed with leukaemia at one. She died six weeks after her third birthday in 2003.

Nicki’s daughter Naomi, who died in 2005 aged seven, was born with a rare genetic condition known as Cockayne syndrome. Both children went to the Bridge School, in Hungerford Road, Holloway, which is where Susie and Nicki met.

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Slow, which stands for “surviving the loss of your world”, evolved out of their weekly meetings. The group has been running since 2007, and each week about six parents – anyone is welcome – get together every Thursday morning in Cathcart Hill, Tufnell Park.

Susie, who has another daughter and two sons, said: “After about two years, we thought this is amazing, so why not open it up to others and see how it goes?

“For the first three months, we sat there every week with just be the two of us, but slowly and surely we started getting people. We talk about life, the world, our children, and about ways of trying to bring our children through our lives with us, even though they are not here any more.”

Now Susie and Nicki are each doing university courses in counselling, while they also both volunteer on a helpline for bereaved parents.

Nicki, of Anson Road, Tufnell Park, who has an eight-year-old son, said: “Out of the group, we decided to get more skills in counselling, and we also went on a training course for the helpline.

“The name Slow is a way of acknowledging that this is a very slow, long process,” she added. “It’s not about asking people to feel better. It’s all about supporting, listening and sharing.It’s very helpful to hear other people are feeling similarly. We all help each other. And it’s our little girls that died who are the inspiration.” – TOM MARSHALL

l Visit to find out more about Slow.