PARENTS

Heartbreak Of Mum Who Lost Her Baby Son And Husband In Space Of Five Days

14/08/2014 16:48 | Updated 22 May 2015
Heartbreak of mum who lost her baby son and husband in space of five days

A devastated mum has called for more support for the bereaved following the death of her baby son and her husband in the space of five days.

Rhian Burke believes her husband Paul would be alive today if he had received professional counselling to cope with the loss of their baby, George.

The loving dad drove to his death while the couple were in the process of planning their little boy's funeral.

Rhian said grieving fathers, especially, are being failed by the NHS.

Rhian, 35, and Paul, 33, were left 'totally devastated' when George died after a seizure last year.

Mother-of-three Rhian, from Miskin, near Cardiff, said: "One minute we were a normal family getting on with life - the next it was all over.

"George was his normal, happy self just seconds before having a sudden fit.

"He had eaten all his dinner and was playing on the floor. He just fell backwards and didn't move.

"We both screamed and phoned for an ambulance. He started fitting and we couldn't stop it."

George was taken to hospital but sadly passed away hours later. The parents returned home and in the following days had been planning his funeral.

Rhian said: "Paul took the car for a drive - I didn't think anything of it. We had cried together and were planning funeral arrangements for George.

"We had even talked of taking our other two young children away on holiday to Lapland. I hadn't noticed anything different in his character.

"Paul took the car along the M4 and fell to his death from a bridge. When I was given the news, it nearly killed me.

"Paul should be here today to support me, but he isn't. I am in no way cross or angry with what he did, as he was the kindest, loveliest person you could ever meet.

"He lit up every room he entered. He was a very proud man who loved his family very much."

A coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death 'rather than suicide' due to Paul's post traumatic stress disorder, diagnosed in the days after George's death.

A year on, Rhian has decided to talk about her loss and has set up a bereavement charity to help others overcome family traumas.

She is campaigning for specially trained bereavement counsellors to call at the home of any parent who loses a child within 24 hours of their death.

Rhian said: "I believe Paul would still be alive today if he had received immediate trauma counselling.

"Within hours of suffering a fit my baby was gone, just like that. "Paul and I were made to walk the length of the hospital with the nurse carrying our dead child, watching as other mothers went by with their pushchairs.

"Then we were ushered out without any proper help or advice. That's when I knew there was a major gap in the system, with nobody taking responsibility for bereavement support.

"The current bereavement system in the NHS fails to offer any aftercare, particularly for grieving fathers."

The '2 Wish Upon a Star' charity has raised £50,000 to help improve bereavement support after charity balls and events were held in Paul and George's memory. Rhian is now conducting talks on her experiences to help the NHS and the police deal with similar tragedies.

Rhian said: "I'm only a small person, but I'm determined to change things - it's what my husband would have wanted.

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