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'It is about not shying away from the truth' - TV presenter Simon Thomas on teaching children about funerals

PUBLISHED: 09:17 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:17 13 February 2020

Simon Thomas with son Ethan and wife Gemma. Photo: Bloodwise

Simon Thomas with son Ethan and wife Gemma. Photo: Bloodwise

Bloodwise

"It is about being loving, gentle and not shying away from the truth."

A scene from the new short film from Rosedale Funeral Home which aims to teach children about what happens when a loved one dies. Picture: Rosedale Funeral Home/Blanc CreativeA scene from the new short film from Rosedale Funeral Home which aims to teach children about what happens when a loved one dies. Picture: Rosedale Funeral Home/Blanc Creative

Those are the powerful words of Norfolk-born former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas, who has opened up about the importance of speaking to young people about the funeral process after a loved one has died.

Mr Thomas' son Ethan was just eight when his wife Gemma died in November 2017, three days after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

He has spoken ahead of the premiere of a short film called What Happens at a Funeral, which was made by Norfolk and Suffolk-based Rosedale Funeral Home and Blanc Creative and educates children and young people about the funeral process.

The founders of Rosedale Funeral Home want it to be used by schools across the country and child bereavement charities.

A scene from the new short film from Rosedale Funeral Home which aims to teach children about what happens when a loved one dies. Picture: Rosedale Funeral Home/Blanc CreativeA scene from the new short film from Rosedale Funeral Home which aims to teach children about what happens when a loved one dies. Picture: Rosedale Funeral Home/Blanc Creative

Mr Thomas said: "It depends on the age of the child and it is a fine balance but anything that can help a child understand death a bit more without being frightened is good. Ethan was at an age when he wanted answers."

A Norfolk sixth form student, whose father died from bowel cancer when he was 10-years-old, has also praised the film, describing it as perfect and not hard-hitting.

Owen Leeder, 17, said: "For me the film would have been a great help. It will help children of the future. The funeral process happened incredibly quickly. I had no idea what was going on. It was very traumatising. Everyone was a bit scared to talk to me about it. It had a huge impact on me seeing how many people were affected."

What Happens at a Funeral was created after the idea came out of the youth panel from Nelson's Journey - which supports children impacted by bereavement.

A scene from the new short film from Rosedale Funeral Home which aims to teach children about what happens when a loved one dies. Picture: Rosedale Funeral Home/Blanc CreativeA scene from the new short film from Rosedale Funeral Home which aims to teach children about what happens when a loved one dies. Picture: Rosedale Funeral Home/Blanc Creative

The sixth form student, who sits on the panel, said it was important for people to talk to young people about what happens after people die.

"It is something that needs to be spoken about and make people feel they are not alone. If you don't talk about how you feel you can get isolated and go downhill."

Funeral director, Anne Beckett-Allen, 47, from Scole, said: "We don't want children to be forgotten. People sometimes don't talk to their children about the death of a loved one to protect them but they imagine things that are worse than the reality if we don't fill in the gaps."

The film premieres on February 19.

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