Melanie and Sean’s daughter Mylee was only 15 months old when she unexpectedly died in 2012. Here Melanie shares how Mylee’s siblings remember and express their love for their sister.
For a long time we believed Mylee died of Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood (SUDC) and we walked the path of the unknown like many SIDS families.
After receiving some updated information from the coroner, we now know Mylee died from Hib, a bacterial infection that can affect the airways and brain, complicated by an undiagnosed immune condition.
Whilst Mylee was immunised for this illness the immune condition meant she didn’t exhibit an immune response to the vaccine.
Mylee’s big brother Chase was only four years old at the time but he was our little rock.
He kept us in a place of reality. I walked into Mylee’s room one morning and I said ‘Morning Mylee’, and he said ‘No mum, Mylee has died. This is just her room’.
We strongly believe that art can be an amazing therapy for children.
When Mylee died our Red Nose counsellor used art for Chase to express himself.
Having never met Mylee with our two younger daughters we’ve always let them lead the way in their family pictures as to whether they would like to include her or not.
Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t and we’re ok with that, I think it’s best not to force these things, I’d rather them be true to their own emotions.
I decided to do a task with them though on this occasion asking them to draw a picture of their family including their sister to see how they would represent her.
They all have their own unique connection with Mylee and the girls still are really drawn to her and talk of her often. She still very much a part of our lives.
Chase, 11 years old
Chase is our eldest and remembers Mylee vividly. He drew a picture representing the Red Nose Sunshine Beach Run.
This event has played a pivotal role in his grief and allowed us to teach him how to channel grief in a positive manner.
Chase said, “Sometimes I will include Mylee in my pictures and sometimes it makes me sad to so when I feel like that I won’t draw her instead I’ll just keep her in my heart.
My Mum says that’s ok if I do that because it’s my journey to choose.
“I drew us at the run because I feel close to her then and I feel like it’s the closest we get to having our whole family together.”
Paisley, 6 years old
In her family drawing, Paisley represented Mylee as a baby even though Mylee is her older sister. The sad reality is all of our memories are of Mylee as a baby because we never got to see her grow up.
She’s still learning to spell so this was her attempt at writing ‘I love you Mylee’, which was super adorable.
Paisley said “I liked drawing Mylee in our family because she is my family and when we’re all together it makes me happy.”
I wish she would come back because then we could play and it would be really, really fun.
I would hug her if she came back, I’d be so happy to have my family all together, but she does make nice rainbows in the sky for us to see.”
Eden, 4 years old
Our youngest Eden is most intrigued by her sister and I’ll often catch her talking to her picture or pretending a toy is her sister. She’ll often tell people about her sister dying.
Her representation of our family was quite interesting to me, she separated us with everyone in the car, except Chase and Mylee. They live on the roof of the car apparently, but they have seatbelts on so they’re safe.
The sad reality is sometimes our family is a little bit before and after.
We had Chase and Mylee together, and then we lost Mylee. Now we have Chase, Paisley and Eden. It is almost like two different families sometimes.
Not that we make that division purposely, but Chase is the only one of our children who met Mylee so I presume that it’s natural for Eden to represent the family in this manner.
Because of losing Mylee there’s now quite an age gap between Chase and the girls, which is gut wrenching to us.
In saying all of that though Eden also drew my husband coming out of an egg like a dinosaur so perhaps it’s best not to read too far into it all!
Eden said, “I miss Mylee can we take her my drawing? Do you like Dad’s egg head?”
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