Jack, My Kindred Spirit (child drowning)

by Lucy Herd

Jack Edward Thomas Herd was my miracle baby. He was born on the 16th September 2008 at 8:20am.  I had had 5 miscarriages before his birth, so the joy and excitement of his birth was magical. Jack blew kisses to the world. He made everyone smile the first time they met him. He was a happy and funny little boy. The 23 months I had him were filled with love, joy, adventure, and happiness.

On August 27th 2010, a beautiful summer’s day, my life would be changed forever. Jack wandered off from me whilst I was in the kitchen and I found him face down in our garden pond. Nothing could have prepared me for that day and I still, to this day, live with the guilt that I took my eyes off my son for that short moment. People tell me you can’t watch them 24 hours a day. I know it was a terrible accident. Maybe, in time through my grieving process, I will be a little kinder on myself. I miss him terribly. My life has changed so much as have so many who knew him. He was my kindred Spirit and it’s his strength and energy that keep me walking forward.

Jack is the reason I am campaigning at Parliament here in the United Kingdom to help other families deal with the loss of a child. Currently, there is no law allowing time off for the death of a child. The government states employers should give “a reasonable amount of time off, for the death of a loved one”.  Some companies will let you have time off; three days off and one of those has to be the funeral.  Other companies are more compassionate and let you have as much time as needed, but they actually do not have to. I feel the impact it has on wider mental health and relationships is devastating. “You can have up to 12 months off for the birth of a child, but 3 days off if a child dies”.

We are not the only country this applies too. Each employer has their own policy about bereavement time off for a loved one. Unfortunately, companies do not take into consideration the natural compassion of giving an employee time off. I want this issue to be reviewed in the UK and then the European Union and eventually the Commonwealth. This is something as a Nation we do not talk about but change needs to happen.

90% of relationships break down after the death of a child. I truly believe that if we had more time to grieve together then we would be more productive in our everyday activities.

You could also say this is a Health and Safety issue at work due to the fact that parents who work with machinery are more likely to make a mistake which could affect others.

But unfortunately I can’t help but feel this all boils down to MONEY.

I originally said up to 12 weeks off paid leave, but having reviewed this and spoken to various parliamentary figures I can see that 4 weeks is more reasonable, not that you can put a time on grief, but 3 days is not reasonable!!!”

Currently in the United States Barry Kluger and Kelly Farley, founder of the Grieving Dads Project, are campaigning congress for a similar change. Here is their petition.

I am currently setting up a charity in Jack’s memory called Jacks Rainbow. It will help other families with 24/7 support and funding for vacations/holidays to try and create new memories for the family.

You can follow my journey on Facebook or on Twitter @chngbereavement

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