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At just 7 years old, Dylan is facing his first Christmas without both of his parents.
Dylan O’Sullivan is almost 8 years old. It’ll be his birthday on New Years Eve. It breaks our hearts that Dylan is facing his first Christmas AND birthday without both of his parents.
Dylan first came to Barnardos in February of this year, to one of our after-school groups. Dylan and his parents, Rachel and Seán, had been living in homeless accommodation and his parents needed a little support. Because they had moved around a lot, Dylan had never had the opportunity to make friends. His teacher at school had mentioned that he very much kept to himself in class too.
As Dylan did begin to settle into his after-school group and make some friends, tragedy struck. Dylan’s Dad, Seán, died in a road traffic accident. Dylan was devastated and he withdrew into himself. Despite their struggles, they had always been such a close little family and this was just devastating.
As well as his after-school group, Dylan began doing some one-on-one sessions with a project worker named Lyndsey. They talked about loss and grief, and there were a lot of tears shed. It is so hard to explain to such a little boy how unfair the world can be at times.
The pain in his eyes would quite literally break your heart in two
Things were made even more difficult during lockdown for Dylan and Rachel. Rachel had lost her job and was struggling to make ends meet. We dropped food hampers and hygiene packs to their little flat every single week. We were able to stand at the railings around the building while Dylan stood at the door, and we talked about how things were going.
In August the unthinkable happened. Dylan went to stay with his grandparents while Rachel went into hospital to have some back pain investigated. It transpired that Rachel had an aggressive form of colon cancer which had spread too far, and she tragically died after 3 days in hospital.
Dylan never got to say goodbye
Things really aren’t great with Dylan at the moment, how could they be? A little boy so young, has lost both his parents within 6 months of each other - it’s truly horrific. He has moved around so much in his young life already, and now lives with his grandparents, who don’t have a lot to spare.
They do love him so dearly though, and thankfully, have made every effort to keep up Dylan’s communications with Lyndsey and the other project workers that he has come to know over the past year. This is so important right now, to keep Dylan talking.
He is very much struggling with the big feelings he’s feeling at the moment. He says he feels like crying, but tears don’t come. He feels heavy. He doesn’t know what to say a lot of the time. He misses his Mammy and his Daddy. All the children in his class at school are talking about what they’re going to get up to with their families over the Christmas holidays and it makes Dylan very angry, and then really sad.
Dylan’s grandparents are struggling with grief themselves, and are facing Christmas without their daughter, and with a grandson to provide for. They want to give Dylan the Christmas he deserves and something really special for his birthday too but they also need to put food on the table and to heat their humble home.
They’ve reached out to us and asked for some help. We rely so much on the generosity of people like yourself to provide things like warm pyjamas, winter coats, toys for under the tree.
It is people like you who are the ones who are making Christmas special for children all over Ireland.
This year, we have more children and families than ever needing support and we’re really hoping that you’ll be in a position to make a gift today to help ease that burden that so many will face this year.
Please, give what you can to help give Christmas that little bit of magic for children like Dylan.