Double Tragedy As Woman Loses Her Husband Only Five Days After The Death Of Her 1-Yr-Old Son

Double Tragedy As Woman Loses Her Husband Only Five Days After The Death Of Her 1-Yr-Old Son

A mother has spoken of her grief after losing her 12-month old son and husband within the space of just five days.

Rhian Burke, 35, and her husband Paul, 33, were left 'totally devastated' following the sudden death of their baby son George following a seizure last year.

And days later, tragedy struck again when Paul fell to his death from a motorway bridge.

Mother-of-three Rhian, from Miskin, near Cardiff, said: 'One minute we were a normal family getting on with life - the next it was all over.

'George was his normal, happy self just seconds before having a sudden fit.

'He had eaten all his dinner and was playing on the floor. He just fell backwards and didn't move.

'We both screamed and phoned for an ambulance. He started fitting and we couldn't stop it.'

Double Tragedy As Woman Loses Her Husband Only Five Days After The Death Of Her 1-Yr-Old Son

George was taken to hospital but sadly passed away hours later.

The pair returned home and in the following days had been planning his funeral.

Rhian said: 'Paul took the car for a drive - I didn't think anything of it. We had cried together and were planning funeral arrangements for George.

'We had even talked of taking our other two young children away on holiday to Lapland. I hadn't noticed anything different in his character.

'Paul took the car along the M4 and fell to his death from a bridge. When I was given the news, it nearly killed me.

'Paul should be here today to support me, but he isn't. I am in no way cross or angry with what he did, as he was the kindest, loveliest person you could ever meet.

'He lit up every room he entered. He was a very proud man who loved his family very much.'

A coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death 'rather than suicide' due to Paul's post traumatic stress disorder, diagnosed in the days after George's death.

More than 450 people attended a joint funeral for Paul and George at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff after the double tragedy a year ago.

Shattered with grief, Rhian did not leave her home for six months.

But a year on from her heartbreak, she has decided to take the incredibly brave step to begin talking about her loss and has set up a bereavement charity to help others overcome family traumas.

She is campaigning for specially trained bereavement counsellors to call at the home of any parent who loses a child within 24 hours of their death.

Rhian said: 'I believe Paul would still be alive today if he had received immediate trauma counselling.

'Within hours of suffering a fit my baby was gone, just like that.

'Paul and I were made to walk the length of the hospital with the nurse carrying our dead child, watching as other mothers went by with their pushchairs.

'Then we were ushered out without any proper help or advice. That's when I knew there was a major gap in the system, with nobody taking responsibility for bereavement support.

'The current bereavement system in the NHS fails to offer any aftercare, particularly for grieving fathers.'

The '2 Wish Upon a Star' charity has raised £50,000 to help improve bereavement support after charity balls and events were held in Paul and George's memory.

And Rhian is now conducting talks on her experiences to help the NHS and the police deal with similar tragedies.

Rhian said: 'People ask me how I cope, but the charity work has really given me a focus.

'I'm only a small person, but I'm determined to change things - it's what my husband would have wanted.

'The support from my family, friends, South Wales Police and even complete strangers has been truly overwhelming,' she said.

'It upsets me to think Paul will never meet these people. He would've appreciated it so much.'

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