When I was 12 years old, my father was murdered and my life changed forever.

At 3.05pm on May 12, 1992, I arrived home from school to be greeted by police cars and the sound of my sister crying in the living room.

My mother took me upstairs and told me that my father had died that morning. The overwhelming gut-wrenching feeling of pain and loss was unbearable. I will remember it for the rest of my life.

What had happened? At the time, a lady that worked with our family was going through a difficult divorce and my parents were helping her through it. The husband would check her post, so she had it redirected to our house.


On May 12, the husband followed his wife to the house where my father delivered the post. He turned up to find my father's car outside. He went to a local shop where he stole a knife, then returned to the house.

After a brief struggle, the man pulled out the knife, stabbed my father, and then turned on his wife. The wife ran out of the house and the man grabbed another knife from the kitchen and continued to stab my father.

The husband was later caught and sentenced four years in prison.

They say that grief occurs in five stages. First, there's denial, followed by anger; then comes bargaining, depression and acceptance. In my opinion, those fives stages don't really exist.

I learned from a young age that you simply learn to build your life around your grief. Following the weeks and months after my dad's death, I found myself lost and unsure of my emotions. I was confused and I struggled to comprehend what had happened to my family.

As a 12-year-old boy starting secondary school, the impact of my grief manifested itself in a sense of not belonging or fitting in. I felt different to my peers, and always had this overshadowing feeling that I wasn't the same person anymore.

The grieving process is strange. No matter how you experience it, one day you are fine and the next the grief hits you like a sledgehammer.

Prior to leaving secondary school I found myself disinterested and unsure as to where my life was heading. I struggled to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Grief has this annoying way of taking the shine out of happiness and I found myself not looking forward to the key events across the year, such as Christmas and birthdays.


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During my late teenage years I fell in love with singing and music. I had found an outlet for my grief that helped me release the negative thoughts and emotions that controlled me during the early years after my dad died.

In 2000, I auditioned for a singing course at The London Music School. I didn't expect to be accepted – so when I was, I began a new chapter in my life. The course gave me a sense of confidence. It played a huge part in my healing process.

Later, during my mid-twenties, I decided to re-visit the counselling process using bereavement charity, Cruse. It helped a great deal and I found talking to someone cathartic.

Since then, I've found the confidence to achieve anything that I put my mind to. Music and counselling taught me to believe in myself again. I have succeeded in things that I never thought were possible. I've met people that have inspired and supported me.

It's estimated that one in 29 school age children in the UK have been bereaved of a parent or sibling, and 24,000 parents die each year, leaving dependent children. Initiatives such as Children's Grief Awareness Week UK is designed to raise awareness of bereaved children and young people in the UK.

It shines a light on how providing people affected by grief with free, professional support can make the world of difference to their future.

I truly believe it's important that all children learn from an early age that death is a natural part of life.

At the beginning of 2018, I made the important decision to publish my fifth children's book, The Magical Wood, written to help bereaved children. The impact of trauma at an early age has instilled a passion in me to help children struggling with their own grief and mental health.

The devastation of grief at an early age can stay with a child for the rest of their lives, but it doesn't have to affect their mental health. The Magical Wood was written to help open up the difficult conversation around grief and death. I wanted to write a book that would've helped me after my dad was killed.

The earlier we start to introduce the conversation around death and grief in our schools, the earlier we can break the taboo in the UK. In my opinion, children should be explained to honestly what has happened, in words that they can understand.

Let them see how you feel. Children learn about feelings by watching the adults around them and I always appreciated adults speaking to me about how I was feeling, giving me a space to express myself.

I also remember thinking that somehow, my father's death was perhaps my fault. A ridiculous thought now. So often, children need to be reassured that it was nothing they did, said or thought that made this happen.

I want all children struggling with grief to know that, although you will always miss that special person, you can go on to live a positive life after the death of a loved one.