Ben Kennedy’s StrongMen story

Ben Kennedy’s StrongMen story

Loss in any circumstance and age is enough. But to wake up as a happy 32 year old husband and father with our second baby on the way, then by the end of that day to have suffered the unexpected loss of my Wife and baby and facing the task of delivering that news to our four year old Son, left me completely devastated and lost.

Ben had only recently suffered the sudden loss of his wife Jo and baby when he was told about the services of StrongMen through his bereavement midwife. He remembers feeling utterly shell shocked, the deaths were entirely unexpected and sudden. Going from looking at brochures with his Wife for babies buggy and rockers, to being faced with being handed a bereavement brochure from the hospital that he just couldn’t connect to. I knew everything just felt so wrong, I couldn’t quite believe the situation I was in could be reality, but my priority was to look after my son George who had just turned four, whilst just aiming to get through each day”.

Being just 32 years old and being faced with losing his Wife and baby suddenly and having a four year old Son to care for he felt like he just didn’t connect with many of the widow and bereavement groups that were coming up. After hearing about StrongMen and one of the founders Dan’s story, Ben felt he could finally see someone else of a similar age and situation to himself. Ben wanted to know more about how Dan and his children had dealt with things, and this in turn gave him a glimmer of hope for his own path forward. Straight away, as soon as Dan answered that first call, Ben felt he could be honest and open up completely, knowing that the person he was talking to had been through similar emotions and ‘got it’.

Everyone in the family were also in total devastation and were looking to see how George and I would be. They tried to read my mood to gauge how they should behave and react. Knowing that I had the support and outlet with Strongmen, gave my family and especially my Mum, a huge sense of relief. My mum could tell each time things were building up when I was struggling and would even ask when my next call with Dan was due!

It was after completing the peer-to-peer support telephone sessions, M2M, that Ben decided to apply for a space on one of the Weekender Retreats. After his calls with Dan, he had started to feel he had the headspace and resilience to begin to look to the future. “I wanted to meet different people and was excited as this felt like another step on the path and I felt confident and open to embracing this opportunity. I was able to look forward to it as I had worked hard leading up to this stage. I have also found a new love for walking and being outdoors with the positive effects it has on being able to think clearly and recharge mentally. Before, when I needed to have a release, I would head to the gym but now I have another new tool in the box to use. I would 100 % recommend the Weekender to anyone experiencing any stage of loss, even if you are feeling nervous don’t hesitate you won’t regret it. Whilst at the Weekender I was able to share experiences and different views which helped bring perspective to my own situation, all whilst feeling good physically by being outside and exercising.

Mostly this helped with worrying less about George and the future by helping me to feel lighter and live each day as it comes, with the confidence in knowing that I have the strength to continue to build a happy future for myself and George.
At the start of it all I could have never imagined doing half of what myself and George have already done since, from holidays, experiences, starting school, friendships and most importantly laughter and smiles; all through having the at times difficult but important conversations and not burying our heads in the sand with any part of what we’ve had dealt to us.

I knew from the start, as excruciatingly hard it was to do, I had to be able to meet each challenge head on and talk openly about everything for the good of my Son. Strongmen has been key to making sure I can be the best version of myself I can now be, as my priority has and will always be to ensure I support George with the loss of Mummy and baby the best I possibly can and to continue to always make Jo a special part of all that we do”.