Hello, we’re Andrea and John Kerslake and until recently we were an average family, enjoying and experiencing the ups and downs that a life bringing up three kids brings.
Little did we know however, what devastating lows were ahead of us.
On 3rd March 2013 without warning, we lost our young son Elliot and we’d like to share our story with you.
It was a busy family filled Sunday crammed with activity; we went to watch Oliver (our 11 year old son) play football and then set about clearing the chaos that our daughter Emily’s (13) sleepover had created in our home the night before. Later as we were preparing a family dinner our youngest son, two and a half year old Elliot slept upstairs. Elliot showed no signs of being ill, yet he never woke up.
Suddenly, we were in a whole new world, a world of intense devastation, filled with immense pain and sheer shock.
Our pain has in many ways been intensified further through being thrust into a number of legal and professional processes that we neither understood nor felt a part of.
As you can imagine, we have had to meet with many people in various professions in connection with Elliot’s death, and of course we’ve been grateful for their sympathy, compassion and care.
However, this care and compassion did not extend into adequate, accessible bereavement support, a clear coroners process nor indeed into the many stakeholder in Elliot’s case actually talking to each other. It is these things that have made our anguish ever more distressing, and exposed the need for improvements.
When we left hospital on the 3rd March with only an advice leaflet in our hands, we felt completely alone. Alone in the fact that we had to contemplate facing the future without our gorgeous little boy who had been such a huge part of our family life, but also alone in how we were supposed to support Emily and Oliver in their grief, support each other as a couple, deal with our individual grief and keep our family together.
We have been forced to try and find a way through this terrible situation and keep going the best we can for Emily and Oliver whilst in all honesty dealing with a system that could have broken us.
We still do not know why Elliot died and have no date for an inquest.
The initial cause of death issued to us 15 weeks after losing him has since been questioned and so we await the opinion of a further specialist. We’ve had to chase for every scrap of information, and have been left hanging, jumping every time the phone rings, wondering if what lies at the other end is the answer to why our little boy was taken from us so cruelly.
We feel that the systems and processes surrounding Elliot’s death don’t consider the bereaved family who is left grieving and trying to cope. It has often felt that the stress and strain that these delays are causing on us are not of interest and that our needs don’t matter.
We sometimes wonder how we’ve made it to the present day, how we’re still standing and how we managed to face some of the dreaded ‘firsts’ without our little man, but somehow with the immense support from our friends and colleagues we live on.
We live on with a new mission to keep Elliot’s loving and caring spirit alive through Elliot’s Footprint.
Through Elliot’s Footprint we vow to help other families who sadly find themselves in this strange world we now belong, we’ll reach out to them and guide them through – just as Elliot would have done in life.