Grieving mum on loss of daughter (5): 'You never get over the death of your child but you learn to live with it'
A devastated Irish mum has opened up about losing her daughter to a brain tumour, saying: "In the early days there is no hope."
Sharon Vard and her husband Aidan were heartbroken when they their youngest daughter Rachel died after a short illness thirteen years ago.
After realising there was a lack of support services here for the bereaved parents and siblings or children and teenagers, they founded Anam Cara.
Speaking on Newstalk today, she said: "Back in 2004, my husband and I lost our youngest daughter Rachel, we had a very short journey because she had a very short illness and died.
"Afterwards we had to try and get through the intense grief and try to support each other and our children, there was absolutely nothing out there.
"We were probably lucky in a sense because we were connected to a hospital and the hospice but for all the parents who lose a son or daughter suddenly, without any warning often they find themselves without access to any support at all...
"We have the Anam Cara groups in nine locations and we're setting up the tenth now in Cork.
"They meet monthly and are informal meetings where parents can come and meet other parents, they are co-facilitated by one of our volunteer parents and there will also be a professional at every group who would have experience of working with bereaved parents."
Sharon, who has two other children, spoke about how hard it is to try and come to terms with having to bury your child.
She said: "It's a journey, you never get over the death of your children but what happens in you do learn to live around your loss.
"Your grief is still the same but your life does get bigger and that's what we try and encourage, that parents can come and meet with other parents who might be a little further on, to give them hope because in the early days there is no hope...
"You'll always wonder what could have been, that's normal, we do try and normalise what people are going through because in the early days you think you're losing your mind."
She added that Anam Cara is "not a religious organisation but we respect everyone's religious and spiritual beliefs."
For more information about Anam Cara or to access an information pack please email email@example.com or call 085 2888 888.