Hi, my name is Brett

This happened to me...Brett 1 400X300

When I was four, my big sister Rachel died. She was five and was my best friend. She developed leukaemia and had to spend long periods in the hospital: it felt as if my parents were also missing during those times. When she then developed pneumonia, I wasn’t allowed to visit her and I remember jumping up to look through the window in the door to her room, trying to catch a glimpse of her.

After she died, I remember my parents telling me that she was at peace and no longer in pain. I chose not to go to the funeral but I did go to see her body; I remember putting a flower in her hand, kissing her and telling her I loved her. It took quite a while before I understood that we’d never play together again.

After Rachel died I had to start school, which I found very difficult because I was convinced something bad would happen to me or someone else if I wasn’t with my family. I also found out at a later stage that I had been considered as a bone marrow donor for Rachel, which led to me secretly blaming myself for not saving her life.

One thing I’d like young Brett to know is…

If I could tell my younger self anything it would be: you’re not to blame for anything that happened. No one could have changed Rachel’s illness – some people die from cancer and some people live. This is unfair, but nobody’s fault. I would also tell myself not to worry about becoming ill, as it’s not something you can control and it could stop you from just enjoying being a child and having fun!

If you have had someone die, one thing I’d like you to know is…

You might worry that it was something you did that caused your important person to die. It’s important to find someone you trust who you can talk to about this – they can keep reminding you that it’s not your fault. Like me, you might also not have many memories of your own if you were very young when they died – being given memories from photos or stories is just as important.

One thing I’d like the people who are caring for you to know is...

Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with children, it can’t make things worse for them. In fact, being left to wonder about things without an adult to reassure or clarify things can be a lot worse. I remember quite often in my early childhood feeling anxious, scared and worried that it was my fault or that something would happen to me. If you have a ‘gut feeling’ that the child you’re caring for is confused