Supporting families dealing with sudden loss

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From: Andrew Triggs-Hodge, CRY Patron and double Olympic gold medallist.

Every week in the UK, 12 young people aged 14 to 35 die suddenly from undiagnosed heart conditions. Eighty per cent of those that die have no prior symptoms.

These deaths have a catastrophic effect on their families who desperately try to find answers as to how and why this apparently fit and healthy person could suddenly have had a fatal cardiac arrest.

Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) was instigated in 1995 to help relieve the suffering of such families and offers a well established specialist bereavement support programme. Usually it is the parents who seek this support and CRY has found that siblings often feel they have they have to deal with their grief on their own.

As part of its annual awareness week CRY is launching a unique new booklet for the brothers and sisters of young people who have tragically lost their lives to sudden cardiac death. Sibling Grief features 10 personal “essays” from young people who have courageously shared their feelings of suddenly losing their sibling. The authors have wanted to give their personal story in the hope that other affected siblings will know they are not alone.

I have experienced the terrible impact of a young sudden cardiac death after a good friend and fellow rower died without warning from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2009. He was 25. Scott’s death had a devastating effect on his family. All who knew him found it impossible to believe that such an incredibly fit young man could die in this way.

If you know anyone who has been affected by young sudden cardiac death – particularly those who have lost a brother or sister – please consider encouraging them to log on to: CRY is there to help.