2016 has seen many celebrity deaths, covered widely by all media, and mass hysteria has followed by fans who have felt sadness at the passing of their idols. In life though we meet people who aren’t famous, don’t seek out attention or praise, but who bring more to our lives than any celebrity ever could.

Back in 2008 when our youngest was born, my Husband and I were thrown into the world of special needs and disability without any warning. A year later a diagnosis of severe epilepsy meant more fear and confusion, and lack of support from the medical profession meant I turned to the internet and social media for help, advice, understanding – anything that would get us through what we faced with our precious daughter.

It was during this very dark and terrifying period that we came into contact with someone who would over time become one of the first people I would turn to when things got tough. With a little boy of her own who has equally complex needs, we shared experiences of hospital visits, emergency admissions and the relief when once again our little ones proved the Doctors wrong and pulled through another drama.

It wasn’t until later on, when my depression reared its head again and the darkness started to drag me down, that I realised what a true friend I had found. It didn’t matter what was going on in her own life, this beautiful lady always answered my texts and reassured me. She never once judged me despite the stupid situations I often found myself in, instead telling me exactly what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to. That was what made her extra special. So many people are scared of saying the wrong thing when they know someone is struggling with a mental illness, so they either say nothing or say what they think they should. I am, and always will be, grateful for the messages like that because I am a true believer that anything is better than nothing, but to say what you know someone doesn’t want to hear and say it anyway because you know it’s the right thing to do… not many people are able to do that.

The word “inspirational” is, in my opinion, used too often, but my friend… she really was. Her life was far from easy but still she smiled, still she found the time to help others and even in the darkest of holes she shone a light that was so bright it was impossible to ignore. She made me feel like I mattered, like the fight was worth it when I felt like giving up. Her support for my blog was unwavering, every time I doubted myself she gave me a kick up the backside and told me exactly what she thought, reminding me that the demons don’t tell the truth.

Yesterday my incredibly strong friend closed her eyes for the last time and, I hope, travelled off to a pain free place where family and friends gone before her were waiting with open arms. The world has lost someone that the media won’t shout about, there won’t be piles of flowers in town centres there’ll be no tributes paid by famous people, but for those of us whose lives were touched by the kindest and strongest of women, there will forever be a hole in our hearts, a gap in our lives.

Denise. You showed me that no matter how dark and suffocating things are that there is always a bit of hope. You also taught me (or at least tried to!) that some people aren’t worth my tears. Your way with words made me both laugh and cry but you were never anything but honest. You held my hand and helped me try to kick these persistent demons, well believe me I am kicking this darkness so hard today, and I will do my best to keep doing so. I won’t let you down, I promise.

Thank you for shining your light on me and my girls. Goodnight buddy xx

Feel free to contact me –

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/510466005808498/