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I was born and grew up in Madrid, Spain. My son Steven was born in London in 1987, but we went back to Spain when he was 2 months-old, and we returned to the UK in 1996.

At the end of 2012, life was good. For years, I had worked as a University Lecturer for postgraduate students. I also worked as an Interpreter for the police and the courts and in conferences all over the world. I had recently qualified as Tai Chi and Qigong Instructor after 15 years of practice and I had started to run local classes, which were very popular.

We enjoyed life as a small family: my husband, my son Steven and me, plus Melvin, our sweet black Labrador Retriever.

Steven had completed his University Degree in Modern Languages with Translation in 2010 and was enjoying working as a translator.
In November 2012, he started to feel unwell. He went to the doctor four times in as many months, but he was told repeatedly that it was just a winter virus. He was taken to hospital by ambulance on the 3rd of February 2013 and he was diagnosed with Stage IV testicular cancer which had spread to his lymph-nodes and lungs. Testicular cancer has a 95% survival rate,if found early.

How could this be? He was a super-fit 25-year-old. He ate healthily, he played football twice each week, he never smoked, and he rarely drank more than a glass of wine or a beer.

I immediately gave up everything and dedicated myself fully to supporting him. For the following 20 months, we researched everything and tried everything -orthodox and alternative medicine and therapies, spiritual practices, juicing, an organic diet, supplements, and so much more. He went through 2 dreadful surgeries and tons of horrendous super-intensive chemotherapy, including two stem-cell transplants. With each round of treatment, the cancer seemed to ‘disappear’ only to come back more violently shortly after. Steven’s strength and positive attitude were awe-inspiring. He held us all up to the end, as we kept hoping for a miracle.

We went to Madrid in September 2014 because Steven really wanted to celebrate my mum’s 80th birthday. We had to take him into hospital shortly after and he spent the last 3 weeks of his life surrounded by the love of our family and friends. I stayed with him 24-7.

 My only child -the light of my life- died in my arms in the early morning of the 10th of October 2014. He was 27 years old.

Nothing could have prepared me for the devastation I felt. My life and my heart came crashing down around me into a million pieces. I wailed, I cried, I screamed, I howled. The days seemed to pass in a black ocean of indescribable pain, of tears, of disbelief. How could the world continue to turn when my world had disintegrated?

The ‘god’ I was brought up with didn’t serve me anymore. I had been brought up Catholic in Spain, but I had stopped going to church 30 years before. I questioned everything. Did ‘god’ even exist? No ‘god’ could have allowed this to happen!

I wished I could believe there was a ‘god’. At least, I would then have somebody or something to blame, to be angry with.

I started to look for my beautiful son. I could not accept that there was nothing left of him but an urn full of ashes, some photographs, and my memories.

I began to feel his presence and to receive unequivocal signs from him. But -as much as I wanted to believe that it was all ‘real’- my conscious mind kept telling me that I was just going crazy in my grief, that I was delusional.

So I set out to find undeniable evidence of the afterlife and the survival of the soul. I have continued to read, study and explore incessantly -including a lot of documented clinical and scientific evidence.

I have received many direct signs and many detailed messages through gifted psychic-mediums, I have trained in and practiced spirit communication (mediumship), and I have explored diverse methods of direct contact with my son.

This intense journey has transformed me from an open-minded -but very analytical- sceptic to a believer.

I struggled to find support from therapists who don’t really understand child loss, and I could not find any support that was aligned with the spiritual framework I now needed to incorporate into my life in order to survive.

I had to allow myself to feel all the raw feelings I felt, and I wanted to continue to talk about my son -and about my pain- which made most people very uncomfortable. Their ‘platitudes’ hurt me deeply, and I continued to withdraw from the ‘non-bereaved’ world.

 So, apart from reinventing myself and rebuilding my spirituality, what else did I find helpul?

I found a support group very soon after Steven’s passing, which thankfully -but sadly- allowed me to meet a large number of other bereaved parents, many of whom have now become dear friends. I have also built strong online connections with many other bereaved parents all over the world.

A couple of months before the dreaded first anniversary of Steven’s passing, I read a book written by a ‘grief coach’ who lost his wife and two of his children and who now dedicates his life to helping others learn to live with their grief. I had weekly online sessions with him for a few months.

I then came across a support organisation founded by two bereaved parents from the US, which at the time resonated with my new spiritual understanding. I started to run local support groups under their umbrella, but 18 months later I decided to dedicate my time, energy and efforts exclusively to my own projects.

 I was starting to realise that only a bereaved parent can come close to understanding and supporting others on this unimaginable journey, and I noticed that many parents don’t have access to the spiritually open-minded support they need after childloss.

As I continued to prepare myself spiritually and academically, ‘Reconnexions’ began to take shape in the Autumn of 2016.

I decided to try different ‘mind therapies’ which I could use to help myself. I then trained in those that had helped me, in order to attempt to support others who have lost a child.

With this purpose, I have now qualified as Professional Hypnotherapist, Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Transpersonal Grief Counsellor.

I have adapted these and many other practices to the specific needs of bereaved parents, with a holistic, spiritual approach.

 And -after all this- what do I want to say to you, my dear fellow Bereaved Parent in this club nobody wants to belong to?

We have lost our children and we face the rest of our lives without their physical presence.

I’m sure that you -like me-  would have given your own life in a split-second in exchange for your child’s life, and that you would give everything to have him or her back with you on this Earth. But we both know that is not possible.

We will never be the same people we were before our child’s passing, but we can hopefully find a new ‘normal’, a new purpose to help us move forward in honour and memory of our children.

We will always miss our children, and there will always be pain, but there are things that we can do to continue to live in the best possible way that we are able to.

In time -through the tremendously hard work of grieving- we will hopefully one day think mostly about the good memories of our children’s lives, instead of about the painful events related to their death.

I have made a conscious choice to transform my loss and tragedy into purpose and meaning, to support other bereaved parents in as many ways as I can, and to continue to look for the light at the end of each tunnel, and at the top of each deep, dark hole.

It is a choice that I know I will have to make again and again for the rest of my life. With the help of all the incredible people I have encountered and I continue to encounter, the tunnels and holes are gradually becoming less deep and less numerous, and the light is slowly becoming brighter and more healing.

I cannot do this alone. None of us can.

This is my path, my choice, my journey of loss, unconditional love, and survival. And I know I’m being guided at every step of the way by my son, by my dad and other departed loved ones, and by something much bigger than myself, which I don’t feel a need to give a name to.

Your path and your journey may be different than mine, but I look forward to sharing what I have learnt with you, if that is your wish.

With much love,

                                        Marta Arce-Dubois

 

My baby, my son:  9th of July 1987 – 10th of October 2014

For the rest of my life, I will search for moments full of you.

I will always be your mother. I love you, Steven.

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