Jeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they taJeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be with his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they take this painful and unexpected journey.

The words Father God spoke as Jesus was being baptised were “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”.

Ben 10aI don’t for one minute think I am God or that my son was but the sentiments I feel at my son’s passing are the same as the God of the universe. His reason for uttering these words is different than mine but at the end of his life, having lived 23 years and 8 months, this is exactly what I feel.

“This is my beloved son”.

Ben was the child that made us parents but also made both sets of our parents Grandparents. He was my first experience of pregnancy, child birth, breast feeding and full responsibility for a life other than my own. I was newly arrived in a foreign land, far away from my family and Ben’s arrival united Jeremy and I as a new family unit providing cohesion, purpose and expectation. Here is the poem I wrote and shared at his celebration service, summing up all that made him who he was –

Ben & CatherineSeventeen hours labour,

the birth of my eldest son.

The first of five precious children,

the eldest brother to become.

Two parents lovingly nurtured,

Four grandparents behind.

The eldest of twelve cousins,

his position was defined.

DSCF1131His homes have been quite varied,

a totting up of nine.

Three have been down under

and six on a different time.

IMG_1421Aunts and Uncles in both time zones,

his love of travel did arise.

Six continents, ten countries,

a wife this did supply.

DSCF2062

He started in New Zealand,

Five years upon it’s shores.

Then seventeen in Britain

until Brazil then had a cause.

IMG_0953

He learnt to speak three languages,

English, Spanish, Portuguese.

He worked as a translator

using every one of these.

Ben & Dabi - Groups 006One heavenly Father,

Such love upon his face.

Ben’s baptism declaring,

He knew his final place.

IMG_1630

We miss you here my Ben,

You’ve left us such a hole.

But we know to be with Jesus,

is our final goal.

“With whom I am well pleased”

Ben ran the race with his eyes set on his Father in heaven. He added so much to us as a family and I am proud of him in so many ways. He has left a huge hole but there is no way I would ask him to come back. He has tasted heaven, not as a place “good people” go but rather the place where God’s perfect love is. God won’t make you stay in his presence if you have not chosen to be there. Ben had made his choice very clearly as a young boy.

So how do I, do we move on as a family? I am so, so grateful Father warned me of Ben’s death. On April 12th, 16 days before he died, as I was worshipping in church through singing, I felt Father say to me, “Catherine, how do you feel if I take Ben?” My answer? “Oh Lord, I am not sure I am ready for that yet!” I then felt him explain to me that he had brought Ben home to die, that Dabi had not changed her name to Clark (it being very difficult for her with documentation and travelling to do so and in Brazil you only have one chance; at the legal marriage ceremony) as she would find it easier to rebuild her life with her native Brazilian maiden name and that we had Ben’s entry on the blog to remind us of more lucid days and that he knew where he was going.

I felt shock as I left and met up again with Jeremy but I started the process of accepting Father’s will. I had no idea of timing but we now know it would not be long. Ben was much more lucid in those final few days and we talked about death a lot. He was peaceful. We did not know it but we said goodbye on the evening of Monday April 27th reading Ben his blog entry. He did not remember writing it but as we said to him “so you know where you are going” he agreed and I left. I had no idea I had said “goodbye”.

IMG_1601It has been tough and still is. There is a huge gap, however I feel we celebrated his life in the most wonderful service on May 8th and the short service at his burial on the 12th allowed me to say goodbye. I carry on with the mundane in life, I feel happiness and deep sadness that almost overwhelms me but I know God the Father walks beside me and has bestowed huge blessings on me. Jeremy’s health seems less of a worry, we should move into our mortgage free house soon and I have amazing opportunities at school for the next academic year. I will never get to a point of saying “ah, all done now, no more grieving”. If I live to 90 I have 42 years on this earth when I will miss my first born son. That is huge, but I will turn my gaze toward heaven and use my feet to walk a step at a time to fulfill the life and calling Father has for me. I will feel joy but sometimes it will simply be an act of will.

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Comments on: "Catherine: Grieving the loss of a son" (7)

  1. Thanks,Catherine.

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  2. Yvonne Howarth said:

    As expected your words bless those who read them. Thank you for sharing.
    I for one, hadn’t thought about such things as, the first born being the start of such a huge chain of events. Our first born also Ben, was the 6th Grandchild in our family, but how exciting for you both to produce the 1st Grandson , 1st cousin etc, etc. Pregnancy and birth of your firstborn are no more precious than the following births but, I still remember the way I felt on giving birth the first time, I rejoiced with you at precious memories of intimate breast feeding and the 1st of everything else that followed. I’m so glad Ben gave you so much joy and that his faith was so strong.
    I feel for you all and think of Dabi and Ben’s sibling’s often. I hope they all know they are being prayed for regularly.
    I remember you mentioning about God speaking to you and warning you of his plan. You are indeed a brave woman Catherine and I feel God will be saying to you especially well done my good and faithful servant as you trusted and obeyed your God even with a little hesitancy, who would be ready to pass over their child. You reminded me that when my babies were firstborn, giving them back to God for him to use, was my duty! I was happy to be their ‘carer’.
    It was good to read about Dabi’s name changing and how wise they were as young people.
    Saying a final goodbye to someone is always going to be hard traumatic even so as I also found being spared the watching of life leaving us may be kinder. When I lost a dear friend we had gone on holiday when she suddenly died, like you I was shocked but felt I had been spared the agony of watching life stop. Hope this doesn’t sound glib Catherine.
    Once again I was out of the country when Ben died, so was regretfully unable to attend the service, but as you know my love and prayers, tears and smiles, were for you all.
    He has the future in the palm of his hand, as he owns the rivers, rocks and rills. Jeremy’s news is amazing and what God is doing for you all right now is jaw dropping. But I feel I should stop now, I’ve probably gone on too long, just continue to feel all the love, directed at you and yours.
    Much love Yvonne. Xx

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  3. Grandma said:

    I feel for you, Catherine, I too have my lost my firstborn, my only son. I have had to bear this alone as I am a widow. I have a 12 year old grandson who is an orphan, his mother died a year before his father. But you will find the strength to carry on,because there is no alternative, we women have to be the strong ones for the sake of the rest of our families. I envy you your continuing faith in the Lord, I have lost mine, I feel like an empty vessel. But I have so many wonderful friends, two daughters and five other grandchildren.
    I just take each day, one at a time with baby steps. Bless you

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  4. Diane Fraser said:

    Dear Catherine – As we read this blog and those of Jeremy and Josh we cannot help being aware of how much God the Father is upholding you and giving you His strength. I am amazed at how much each of you are able to share and how your faith is so strong and uplifting to everyone. I don’t know if I could be as strong but none of us know until we meet it what is in store for us or how God will uphold us but we know He will. We pray that you will all be continually aware of His love and care, His strong arms around you all. We praise Him for the good news from Jeremy re his health and continue to pray for a miracle and bless the Lord for the improved financial situation. Our thoughts and hearts still go out to you – Blessings Paul & Diane

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  5. I was and am very moved by witnessing and hearing your words of love and loss Catherine. The service of celebration was very fine, and told well dear Ben’s personal contribution to life, his talents, achievements, humour , faith and love, and your wonderful family living this sad but beautiful communion. And I have long thought of you encountering and connecting with these challenges while supporting Jeremy, with the rest of your family , and those you inspire at work. I am holding you in the light as you move forward. Catherine, and praying that you continue to be strengthened by God’s love As you say we cannot ever totally detach or forget, and I sense that it is part of the Christian Spirt to feel and honour this connectedness and compassionate affection,for we want to rejoice in the blessing of dear relationship, and remember and pay homage. And I pray that you are filled with a sense of comfort and grace as you continue life’s journey strengthened by this deep profound connection with love.
    My heart goes out to you all.
    Gail

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  6. Caroline Colin said:

    May I, from a distance, continue to walk with you and your family as you give honour to Father, comfort to many, reality to countless numbers and love and support to all you come into contact with? Cas x

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  7. A wonderful Blog Catherine. What a blessing your faith has been to you all….Hope all goes well with your move. Our prayers are with you all.
    Love Mary & Peter x

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