Both of these two parents from Irby, England were diagnosed simultaneously with terminal cancers. This heartbreaking photograph shows them side-by-side, clasping hands in their hospital beds, and saying goodbye to each other for the last time. Now, friends of the family are trying to find help with looking after their 3 children.
This photo was shared by the children online to express how this tragedy destroyed their family, and to tell the world how much their parents loved one another. Their father, Mike Bennet, 57, died just a few days after the photo was taken. It was then published while their mother Julie Bennet, 50, lay dying in her bed at the St. John’s Hospice in Wirral, England.
Mike had been diagnosed with cancer after a tumor was discovered in his brain in 2013. His wife and children cared for him at that time, while he was still living at home.
Just last February, Mike passed away, while his wife and children were right beside him.
After Julie was diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer in 2016, and after it had begun to spread inside her body, friends of the family promised that on her deathbed they would ensure that the children were looked after. A campaign was started to raise funds so that the 3 children, Oliver, 13, Hannah, 18, and Luke, 21, would be able to continue living in their family home, and successfully face a new stage in their lives—one without their parents.
“I told her the community would come together to help look after her kids – and she opened her eyes and smiled,” said Sue Wright, a friend of the Bennet family.
The children’s spokesperson, and friend of the family, Heathter Heaton Gallagher said: “Words cannot express our desperate sadness for such a beautiful family.
“The Bennets are known to all for their generosity, their love for life, and their down to earth approach.
“Julie has kept the children in a normal routine whilst dealing with Mike’s illness over the past few years.
“When Julie became ill, she made it her purpose to create as many memories as a family for the children to hold onto.”
Heather added: “Facing a double terminal cancer diagnosis is beyond belief and, as a community, we are working hard to support the family so that they can stay together and ensure that they can continue their education as planned.”
The Bennet children’s father Mike had been a self-employed cabinetmaker, and had been an apprentice in Liverpool, working for Baldock’s Furniture Makers. Their mother had been a primary school teacher at the Somerville School in Wallasey.
The Bennet kids continue to care for their mom, while also preparing to say goodbye, and planning for a life without their parents. Meanwhile, Heather hopes to see the children be able to continue to follow their life paths still intact. She shared a few of her major concerns for their future:
“The biggest challenge is that the family car, a Motability car, has to be returned, meaning that the kids can’t get around to manage practical and personal activities.
“Julie and Mike have been the most supportive parents, encouraging their children’s interest in dance and acting from a very early age.
“All three children thrive on the stage and I know that Julie and Mike would not want this to stop their children from dancing and performing.
“To help them do this, we need to make them mobile again and help cover the costs that this brings.
“We have set up a just giving page and overnight that reached an incredible £15,000, but these three kids need to have a future.
“Luke is studying with the Liverpool Theatre School and Hannah is a talented student with Elliot Clarke, Oliver is at high school.
“They have no nearby family in Wirral. Their home was adapted to make things accessible and easier for the family to nurse Mike at home.
“There is a really amazing group of people who have come together to make a real impact on this young family’s life, so that they can have a future together in their family home.”
Heather added: “We are setting up a trust for them with the support of a local solicitor’s and we have offers of help with the funeral costs from a charity in Manchester. But any help for this wonderful family will make a real difference to their lives.”
In response to all of the support from the community, the children also expressed their gratitude. The eldest son, Luke said:
“My brother, sister and I are overwhelmed by the enormous support and generosity we have received from so many friends and well-wishers, and it gives my mum a great deal of comfort to hear that we are being so well looked after by the community.
“I know it has been her priority since being diagnosed to make sure that the three of us can continue as best we can with our studies and fulfill our ambitions.
“Mum has appreciated all the help from close friends in supporting the family over the last three years through difficult times and it would be a huge relief to her to know this support will continue when she can’t be with us anymore.”