A Father's Grief

Local man features in powerful new charity book

Related Links

Paul and Tom Clabburn

Tom Clabburn


Book Sale in Aid of Cardiac Research

Coffee To Go




Sign up for our free newsletter

Comment on this story on the

''Tom died in his sleep on Friday, October 5, 2007. He was 14.
Unusually, he had felt unwell and been diagnosed with a virus the day before. I checked on him in the morning, glad he’d been catching up on his rest. I knew straight away that we’d lost him but I tried to save him. When a paramedic arrived, he took one look and said “Oh Christ''

Nobody can begin to imagine the depth of heartache felt by a parent who has lost a child, but Northfield's resident, Paul Clabburn, has shared his experience and written a powerful and moving account of the death of his son Tom - who was a pupil at Drayton Manor School.

Paul's working alongside bereavement experts from the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) to help launch a new book for the dads of young people who have tragically lost their lives to sudden cardiac death.

The book, “A Father’s Grief” has been compiled by CRY’s Chief Executive and Founder, Alison Cox MBE, a former bereavement counsellor, and features 10 personal ‘essays’ from men – including Paul - who recount and talk through their personal experience of suddenly losing a child.

Paul recounts the horror of discovering his son dead and then dealing with the aftermath.

He writes: '' I always recall the thoughts of a woman whose brother had died suddenly. She wrote that for the first year she cried every day, the next every week, the next every month and now not as often; but, when she did, it was every bit as hard as that very first day. That’s me too.

''Much of my life hasn’t changed. I feel I still think the same things and make the same choices. I still get irritated by the small things in life and angered by what I consider the bigger injustices. To the latter, I’ve added the all-too-often preventable loss of 12 young people a week.

''I didn’t consciously re-evaluate my life or my outlook. Life carries on with a Tom shaped
hole in its fabric. Sometimes it rips further, sometimes it’s less frayed, but it’s always
there. It’s there in a way I accept yet occasionally resent. Sometimes it makes me smile but more often it makes me sad, a sense of longing for what might have been.''

The book will be officially launched to coincide with ‘Father’s Day’, a date in the calendar that is often exceptionally hard for bereaved fathers to bear and a time that many other bereaved fathers across the UK may be looking for specialist support and advice, particularly from those who have been through a similar experience.

Every week in the UK, 12 young (that is, aged 35 and under) people die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. 80% of these young people have no signs or symptoms and so the only way to detect a potentially sinister cardiac abnormality is by having a CRY screening test.

Since Tom’s death, Paul and his family (including wife Claire and daughter Ellen) have played a key role in helping the charity raise greater awareness of young sudden cardiac death. They have raised many thousands of pounds for CRY and will be doing so again outside Munsons this Saturday. They have also sponsored a number of local community cardiac screening sessions.

Alison Cox, says; “I have supported bereaved families for over 18 years and those who have contacted us are most commonly mums. However, dads – often perceived as the ‘head of the household’ and the family member expected to ‘manage’ when faced with such a devastating situation also need to have their grief recognised and an opportunity to talk about their own harrowing experience.

“Men grieve differently to women and very often their grief is not properly understood.”

CRY offers telephone support with volunteers who have suffered the sudden cardiac death of a child, sibling or partner and who received two years of counselling training. CRY also holds regional and national bereavement support events across the UK for families who have been affected by young sudden cardiac death. However, over the years, those attending and seeking support have been mums.

Alison adds; “This booklet has been compiled to help other dads, who are suffering from the catastrophic impact of the sudden cardiac death of a fit and healthy child, to feel less alone. After many years of talking to fathers whose lives have been devastated by this terrible ordeal, I know that many focus acutely on supporting those closest to them, whilst side-lining their own searing grief. Their sense of responsibility to withhold their feelings for the sake of their family results in a painful and combustible cocktail of suppressed emotion.”


Later this year (21 September 2013) will see CRY hold its first Bereavement Support Day, exclusively for dads. The event will give attendees the chance to listen and talk to other fathers about their tragedy and by sharing their feelings will release the emotions buried for so long.

Visit: www.c-r-y-org.uk for further information or visit http://www.crydadsgrief.org.uk to download (free of charge) a copy of the “Dads Grief” Booklet (this will be available from Sunday 16th June).


12th June 2013



Bookmark and Share