The Mayor of Letterkenny, Paschal Blake, has shared painful memories of losing his 3-year-old brother and his father within months of each other, when he was just seven years old. Paschal told his story to Anita Guidera of the Irish Independent to help families learn how to deal with childhood bereavement.
He was playing in a park in 1994 when he heard a car crash and ran to the scene. “I couldn’t see but I remember distinctly someone saying it was Gabriel Blake who had been knocked down.”
Because there were young children in the house, there was no wake there and the children did not attend the funeral. Paschal recalls. “I often wondered how the funeral was. I was trying to put a picture on it and I couldn’t.”
When Paschal’s father Edward died suddenly, aged 38, a few months later while working in Scotland, there was a wake, but no remains, at the house and the children did not attend the funeral. Paschal says this made it much harder to come to terms with. “People probably felt they were protecting us but I was left in a state of confusion for a long time. As a boy, I didn’t want to be seen crying and a lot of these feelings got buried and left deep scars. There was an emptiness I couldn’t explain and it took me a long, long time to get over these tragedies.”
Paschal encourages families to contact the Bereavement Helpline at Barnardos on 01 473 2110 for support.
For the full feature story see today’s Irish Independent.