Proud to launch Sisters and brothers: stories about the death of a sibling

In the summer of 2019 Julie and I went for supper on the South Bank (remember those lovely times we could be together!). Julie's brother Roy had died a few months earlier. That night talked hard about our experiences of our brothers dying. 

A month or so later I was on holiday at a health retreat. It was a place I have been to several times, and had been there shortly after my brother Andrew had died on what would have been his 46th birthday. Consequently Andrew is always on mind whenever we go back there.

At MHFA England we were working with an innovation consultant Alex Pellew, and his book The Idea in You was a holiday read (I recommend it)The overwhelming message I took from the book 'if you have an idea and you feel it, go for it and don't delay'. As I read the The Idea in You I knew I wanted to use my experience of my brother dying to help others. I had felt very alone when Andrew had died and in my usual way I had tried to find things to read and watch and had found little. 

I knew Julie, who had experienced the death of both her parents, as well as her brother, also believes we need to talk more about death and dying. As we ate and talked that night on South Bank we reflected on how hard it had been to find reading about adult sibling death.

So as I read Alex's book I could feel a book inside of me.

Jonny has been through the pain of me writing a few books so I didn't mention it to him in case he gave me 'a look'. When he went to sleep I emailed Julie with the nub of the book idea and asked whether she would consider working with me on it. A month or so later just before lock down we sat in Festival Hall on South Bank and made a plan including the decision to self-publish so any profit could go to Cruse, the bereavement charity. 

Two months later the essays were coming in and the courage, honesty and openness was - is - incredible. We knew this book was going to be special. 

Today in National Grief Awareness Week we proudly launch Sisters and Brothers. As Dr Kathryn Mannix said, it is a labour of love. Julie and I are both enormously grateful to our co-creators whose courage, vulnerability and honesty is at the heart of this book, and why we know it is going to be so helpful to folk. Thank you Anna, Becky, Ben, Donna, Lucy, Mark, Polly, Priscilla, Victoria and Zarine.

Thank you to Vic and Lesley who volunteered their design and production expertise and their valuable time to make sure there were no mistakes, that we had a brilliant cover design and the layout worked. Together they took the pain out of that whole self-publishing thing and we are grateful to them. 

Our stories are many things, but most of all they are stories of love. We miss our sisters and brothers. Despite, or maybe because of the pain, we hold their memory close to our heart everyday.   

Love and solidarity from us all if you have experienced the death of a sibling. There are so many of us. The more we talk openly and honestly about our bereavement and the loss of them, the more we can help those people who are facing a similar experience. Thank you also to everyone who has walked alongside those of us who have experienced the death of a sibling, holding our hands and steadying us.

Finally please do buy and read Sisters and Brothers and tell others about it. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sisters-Brothers-Stories-about sibling/dp/B08NJR5FZR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Julie+bentley+and+Simon+Blake&qid=1606603585&s=books&sr=1-1

Every copy sold raises £3.09 for Cruse, the bereavement charity. Find out more about their brilliant work http://www.cruse.org.uk   

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