We used to opt out of facing children’s distress by saying ‘children are resilient’ but we realise now that children’s grief is as profound and idiosyncratic as adult grief. Sister Frances draws on her 25 years of experience being alongside grieving children.
The women and men of the old orders walked with God into some of the places we never wanted to experience or imagine. Deserts. War . zones. Slums. Sister Francis has continued this tradition by daring to minister in a place 50 dark and troubling that few others had ever had the courage to go there: terminally ill children. What it must feel like to know that you are going to bury your own child is impossible to imagine, but with Sister Francis’ work at Helen House, where she opened the world’s first children’s hospice, that journey is now navigable with more care, more dignity and more support than ever before. A genuinely remarkable, and inspirational woman hiding inside a humble and self-effacing body, Sister Francis is coming to speak not only about parental grief, but about the grief siblings feel too. After 25 years being alongside brothers and sisters who face the death of their sibling, she has learned to refute old wisdom – children are resilient, they’ll get over it – and tapped into a much older wisdom that knows that all grief is profound and idiosyncratic. As you may have seen from her recent BBC series, here is a moving and gracious host for what will no doubt be a powerfully moving voyage through some dark waters.