Community News From Around Our Area
Bereavement Foundation Launches Free Memory Boxes Campaign
In the early hours of a June morning in 2004, Tracey McAtamney took a phone call at her Balsall Common home that was to change her life forever.
Her husband Tony, who had left for his regular Law Society golf trip to Spain just days earlier, had suddenly died.
“We would normally go as a family but this particular year my older son Anthony, who was 15, was just taking his last GCSE exam so I made the decision to stay at home with the boys,” recalled Tracey.
“He had spoken to me on the Sunday night and I always remember, he said ‘I wish you were here.’ He spoke to the boys and finished the call to me with ‘I love you.’”
The next day Tony was discovered on the floor of his hotel room after suffering an abdominal aneurism.
Tracey, 54, said, “How do you tell a seven-year-old that his daddy is never coming home? To this day, this is the worst thing I have ever had to do.”
Fifteen years on, this tragic event was to inspire a series of new ventures aimed at helping others overcome loss, and a foundation called Surviving Bereavement was born.
Tracey explained, “I started to go to a networking group Ladies First which was being run by a couple of ladies I knew and we each shared our personal stories. This is the first time I had publicly talked about my loss and dealing with grief and resilience. It was following this that I realised how many people were touched by my story and I was invited to be ‘A Woman of Spirit’ in 2019 as well as publishing my own book, Hidden Strength.
“Once my book was released a lot of people started to get in touch for advice and that’s when I decided to establish Surviving Bereavement, to raise money to fund my Memory Box/Memory Bag Campaign.
“I had closed all these emotional boxes 15 years ago and once I had the time to open them, I realised that I had a lot to share.”
Surviving Bereavement exists to offer legal and financial advice as well as practical help, all the things, says Tracey, that were not to hand when she needed them.
This support also takes the form of a new series of remote seminars, launched this month, with speakers talking about topics including How to Support a Bereaved Young Person; How to Decide Style of Funeral Service and Coping with Baby Loss. Further details on seminars can be found at: www.survivingbereavement.com/seminars/.
The latest initiative to come out of the foundation is her new Memory Boxes, created in Tony’s memory and personally hand-delivered by Tracey herself.
The bespoke boxes and bags, which are available for children and young adults, typically contain items such as forget-me-not seeds, a personalised book and letter and age-relevant treat item.
“I thought memory boxes were really important to offer some comfort, but when I looked into it there was nowhere that actually gave them away for free, so I thought I would set it up myself,” said Tracey.