If there's one thing we've learnt on our travels, it's that family time is precious and crucially important to young children. Our sabbatical from work has enabled us to take advantage of so many special opportunities. Spending quality time with close family and friends yet also allowing us to share truly special memories across Europe as a family.
But as ever life sometimes throws you a 'curve ball' and the road ahead appears a little rockier and harder to traverse.... Perhaps there's a crumb of comfort that it has certainly happened to others before you and will undoubtedly happen to others following you... But when it hits you, nothing quite prepares you for that experience of seeing your world suddenly turn upside down in front of your eyes.
Having spent early July in France, we'd begun to love the northern coastline as much as the French Atlantic Coastline. With it's parallels to the English counties of Devon (much like Normandy) and Cornwall (much like Brittany), it's certainly somewhere we will return to sooner rather than later.
However it came as quite a shock to see us unexpectedly return back to the UK from France due to our close family bereavement. And perhaps more so due to the nature of what we found out during this period. To help us cope, we've tried to keep ourselves busy and tried to 'jot a few notes' down to help others who might read this and one day find themselves in the same situation.
10 THINGS WE LEARNT WHEN DEALING WITH A CLOSE BEREAVEMENT
1. Check your Insurance Policies! You'd be surprised at what is cancelled with immediate effect leaving you vulnerable at a time when you least need it. i.e Car / Home Insurance
2. Get Organised! Try to encourage relatives to get a list together of passwords, important files or documents and keep it somewhere safe to help others when the time comes.
3. Utilities or Council Tax! It's amazing the levels of bureaucracy that you encounter.. .So having a generic letter to send to the many levels of government was brilliantly useful... just don't forget how many utility companies might need contacting!
4. Tell Us Once Service - dependant on the area you live, this service can be a brilliant help in taking some of the strain off who to contact. (click here for more)
5. MoneySavingExpert - Who'd have thought this useful guide and checklist (click here) would have been so useful in guiding us through the first few days
6. Direct Debits - It's amazing what we rack up in Direct Debits/Standing charges so a monthly overview spreadsheet seems a great idea for us moving forwards (just in case)
7. ThanksGiving Service Catering - Who'd have thought that your local supermarket could provide cheap, affordable catering with just 3-4 days notice... worth remembering for any number of family gatherings (christenings etc)
8. Online Help - With young children to consider, there's plenty online to help. From ideas on coping with grief to useful books or helpful ideas for 'the next steps'
9 HRMC - Perhaps not over the first few days, but this useful guide certainly helped give some basic guidance (click here)
10. Canva Cards - Using Canva certainly helped with invitations, thank you cards and offered an opportunity to take a little stress out of the logistics.
As for us, we've spent time together remembering the good times and ensuring we keep everyone busy. Both girls relished the opportunity to spend some time at Savill Gardens in Windsor. This was our first visit and we can see why it's known and frequented by plenty of young families and older gardening fans!!! Acres of colourful flowers adorn this pretty woodland setting... you can even grab a picnic too beside the lake!
And we were fortunate to find a first for both girls as we managed to get lucky and catch a new 'roadschooling experience' at the Kia Oval to see the final day of the England vs South Africa Test Match....
But it also gave us a chance to find out more about Ocean Rescue. A fantastic initiative to try and clean up the world's oceans (similar to the MSC at Birmingham's Sea Life Centre). However, this is certainly something that will be increasingly important in both girl's lifetimes and it's been good to help educate them about the crucial part they can play in the future.
So whats next for us? Well, we won't be returning to Europe until September now but hopefully time spent with godparents in either Norfolk or Hampshire will be good fun. Followed by some family time in the valleys of Mid Wales.... So plenty to look forward to over the next few months ahead we hope....
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