Joshua's story

For Alana and Paul, Christmas has been forever changed by the loss of their son, Joshua.

Their ten-month-old son died on Christmas Eve 2019. In the midst of their shock and grief, Martin House was there to support them.

Joshua was born with heart, liver and bowel problems, needing surgery at just four weeks old. He was also put on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

Despite treatment, Joshua’s condition deteriorated over the following months, and on Christmas Eve, doctors had to break the news to Alana and Paul that there was nothing more they could do.

Hospital staff suggested the family come to Martin House, so they could spend time with Joshua in one of our cooled bedrooms.

Alana said: ‘We arrived at Martin House that evening and I remember seeing fairy lights all around the hospice. Martin House provided a peaceful and calm setting for us to spend time with our son.’

For Joshua’s older siblings, saying goodbye to their little brother at the hospital on Christmas Eve was extremely difficult, so the hospice allowed them some breathing space.

The family were able to spend time with Joshua during the next few days, and Alana and Paul could make decisions in a supportive environment.

Martin House has continued to support the family with bereavement counselling and a parents’ support group in the months following Joshua’s death. Alana said ‘We were able to connect with a group of parents during our bereavement counselling sessions. The sessions took place over zoom due to the pandemic, but we got to meet in person at this year’s Martin House Remembrance Day.

‘Joshua’s siblings have also been supported by the bereavement team and met other children who have experienced the loss of a brother or sister. The bereavement team have been able to help with the difficult conversations about losing a sibling.

‘We didn’t have a big support network after Joshua died, so it was a lifeline that we had bereavement counselling support from Martin House. My counsellor was someone I could talk to about the incredibly difficult journey we found ourselves on. She was able to listen and understand and seemed to know how to navigate through my worries and concerns.’

Alana and Paul have since welcomed a baby girl into the family, but Christmas remains a very difficult time for them.

Alana said: ‘For us, the Christmas period is just a countdown to when we lost our son. I feel very conflicted because I want to hide away and not celebrate, but I also know his siblings should be able to enjoy Christmas, despite the mixed emotions that this time of year brings.

‘Martin House has been a place where our family can come to talk about Joshua and our memories of him. We can share our journey alongside other families who understand the impact of child loss, knowing that we are not alone in our grief.’