The Mummy Diaries
Every 30 minutes a child in Britain loses one of their parents. For many, death is sudden but even when there is some warning, children are rarely involved in the goodbye process. In this series, Julie Stokes, consultant clinical psychologist, pioneer in childhood bereavement and founder of child bereavement charity Winston's Wish, teaches mothers with incurable illness how to say goodbye to their children. Through a series of ground-breaking techniques, she helps the children come to terms with what's happening to their mum.
The Mummy Diaries follows five extraordinary British families where the mothers are living with the knowledge that they have been diagnosed with incurable cancer and face the daunting challenge of how much to communicate to their children. The families include a family with teenagers, who have lived with their mum having cancer for much of their lives, a mother with two very young children, whose illness has progressed rapidly and a mum who now faces a more hopeful future following an initial diagnosis of only a few months to live.
Throughout the process, the mothers are writing 'Mummy Manuals' on everything from schooling, health, relationships and even sex education, to advise loved ones on how they want their family to live when they are no longer there to guide them. The mothers find themselves facing all the usual parenting dilemmas, often years in advance, as they try to envisage what they would be saying to their children if they were still there to do so. Even the most trivial domestic scenario can take on an extraordinary significance.
The mothers are also creating poignant memory boxes and are filling them with photos and mementos to help remind their children of happy times and to help the very youngest have some knowledge of their mother.
Guiding them through the process is Julie Stokes OBE, a clinical psychologist and founder of child bereavement charity Winston's Wish. As part of her role at Winston's Wish Julie helps some of the 20,000 children who are bereaved of a parent in the UK every year (source: Winston's Wish). Throughout the series Julie helps the children and parents to talk about what is happening in their family and gives the children challenges to help them express their emotions. Julie says, "My job's about really trying to help a mother prepare her children for the fact she may not be there to see them grow up and in doing so help create a real treasure trove of memories so that they can feel connected to her and the love she had for them for the rest of their lives."
For more information please visit the Channel 4 website www.channel4.com/mummydiaries