Bereaved mum helps others cope with grief

The mother of Northamptonshire student Laura Hillier, who died suddenly three years ago from a rare heart illness, is coming to terms with her grief by supporting other bereaved families.

The 21-year-old trainee teacher collapsed without warning in her father’s GP practice in Blisworth on June 20, 2003.

Dr Tony Hillier, his wife Joan and their son Mathew, were devastated by her death which came as a bolt from the blue.

Mrs Hillier said she was only able to start putting her life back together after receiving help from the organisation Cardiac Risk in the Young, known as CRY.

She added: “At first I couldn’t do anything. the family was devastated and the whole of Blisworth was. It affected the whole community for a long time.”

But now she has trained as a family bereavement supporter and is helping others going through similar experiences.

“Unless you had a child that died it is so difficult for anyone to understand how different it is from any other death. It helps to have someone saying it is quite alright to think you are going mad, because you do.

“The organisation matches people with someone who has a similar story to tell. Helping other people has helped me with my own bereavement.”

CRY, which receives no external funding, is also trying fund research into the sudden deaths of young people from unknown heart conditions.

Some studies have indicated that sudden cardiac death is genetic and can be passed from a parent to a child.

Although it has no symptoms it can be detected through screening if it is known to be in the family and people can be fitted with a pacemaker to prolong their life.

Mrs Hillier said: “Research is so important. There is an awful lot of money being put into the health service at the end stage of heart conditions but no one is looking at what happens to the young and the devastation it causes.”