COPING with the death of a child can be an isolating and lonely experience, something that Melanie Burton knows only too well.
She lost her 12-year-old son Jacques just over two years ago. He died after suffering a massive asthma attack.
Jacques – who was visiting his father Louis at his home near Bordeaux in France, when it happened – had suffered asthma attacks in the past. He lived with his family in Weston, and visited his dad for a few weeks once a year.
After the holiday Jacques was due to start back at Broadoak Community School, where he would have been in Year 8.
Melanie, of Kewstoke, said it had deeply affected both her and her other children Thomas, aged 20, and Leah, 19.
She said: "Our lives changed after Jacques died. Every day is a struggle, and sometimes you feel that you can't carry on.
"The whole experience is very isolating, and you feel like the only person this has happened to."
Melanie has realised that there is little support out there to help people cope at such a devastating time.
She said: "Through my own experience I discovered how little support there is out there for bereaved parents and families.
"Just after Jacques died I used a website help group, which was ok, but there was no face-to-face contact.
"I have decided to set up a support group to help other parents and myself.
"You just don't understand unless you have been through it."
Melanie, who is qualified counsellor with 10 years' experience, manages a counselling service for North Somerset Crossroads. She has organised three meetings for bereaved parents to meet and talk to people who are in a similar situation.
They will take place at the Crossroads Carers Centre, Graham Road, on February 8, 15 and 22, from 2pm until 4pm.
Melanie added "When your child dies it is not about moving on, it's about finding different ways to cope without them each day.
"Jacques loved gardening, and so I have made a garden for him, and I find walking helpful too."
"I would urge anyone who has lost a child, whatever the age, to come along or contact me to find out more."
For more information contact Melanie on 01934 429865 or 0774 223 9043.