The Happya Life

Interview with Odette Mould: Beyond Surivival Supporting Children with Bereavement

February 14, 2024 Clare Deacon Season 1 Episode 14
The Happya Life
Interview with Odette Mould: Beyond Surivival Supporting Children with Bereavement
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to an exclusive conversation with me, Clare, the proud author of the No.1 bestselling book 'Blooming Happya'. 

Join me as I sit down with Odette Mould, the incredible founder of Harry's Rainbow, in anticipation of our upcoming Blooming Happya Charity Book Launch Party. This event is not just about celebrating the launch of my book; it's a heartfelt journey of resilience, inspiration, and giving back. 

As we delve into our personal stories of triumph over adversity and the profound impact of community support, we invite you to be part of this transformative experience. 

Our goal? To spread joy, inspire hope, and raise vital funds for Harry's Rainbow, a cause close to our hearts. 

Save the date: February 29, 2024, at Sultans Restaurant, Milton Keynes. Visit https://www.happyacoach.com/event to secure your tickets and join us in this unforgettable celebration of life, love, and Blooming Happya!

Music by LemonMusicStudio

www.happyacoach.com/links

Email me at: clare@happyacoach.com

DM @happyacoach

Clare Deacon

OK. So welcome and thank you to everyone for joining us and listening in. I'm Clare founder of happya and author of Blooming Happya. And this is Odette Mould from Harry's Rainbow. So, thank you, Odette, for joining me today. Just to give a bit of an introduction, really, we wanted to come on and have this interview because we've both had people reach out to us and ask. Us about the blooming happya launch party that I've been putting together. We've been working on to raise some very important money for Harry's Rainbow and people have been asking a bit about our story and how it's all come together. So, this is our opportunity to do that and to share that with everyone. So, I will give a warning before we get started to make you aware that our discussion will cover the topic of grief and bereavement. So please make sure you only continue to listen if you feel able to do so. So, thank you. So adept, welcome and if, hi. So, if you want to get started and introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Harry's Rainbow and how it all got started.

Odette Mould

Yeah, sure. So, I'm Odette, as Claire said, I'm a founder and CEO of Harry's Rainbow. We're a child bereavement support charity based in Milton Keynes. And I've been running the charity now for just over 12 years. And the charity I started in memory of my son Harry. Harry was five years old. When he came down with a sudden illness and subsequently died, and that was in 2009, so we're almost at his 15-year anniversary now. At the time, I'd, I'd never suffered A bereavement at all. There was no one close to me that ever died, but I also had with me Jessica, who was Harry's twin sister. And so, I immediately went into, you know, Mum mode. My instinct was telling me I needed to reach out and find what appropriate support there was for a 5-year-old child. And my search led me to actually realise that there was a severe lack of bereavement support, particularly for children in Milton Keynes, as well as a a lack of resources at the time. So really those sort of my experiences over about a year. Led me to decide that it wasn't good enough that there wasn't something in Milton kings and that I should set something up so that we can work towards. A society and a community. Understands bereavement. And grief more for our bereaved community, but also how children grieve and what support they need, because I found there was a lot of misinterpretation of how Jessica was and maybe how I was and how we were as a family and at the time I wasn't really probably strong enough. To voice how I felt about that and to voice what I felt I needed and what I felt Jessica may need. And so Harry's Rainbow is. Was created not only to raise awareness and provide a a community for bereaved children and their families, but also to provide some key services. To ensure we can aim for a brighter future for bereaved children.

Clare Deacon

It's amazing. It's amazing the work you've done. So, tell me a bit about what advice you give to someone when they first make contact with Harry’s Rainbow, what the process is and really what support Harry’s Rainbow is able to offer someone who's in that situation.

Odette Mould

Well, as I'm sure you probably know yourself, obviously you have your experience of when you first contacted us at Harry’s Rainbow and over the years that has changed and been moulded and we've looked at everybody's experiences along the way. And so that has changed over the years because. I I never feel that one way is the only way and I always want to make sure we're doing the best we possibly can. We have very limited resources, but we I still like to review and look at how we're doing things and how we can improve so. The experience that we hope that we provide to people now is that they can register to access our service online. We're a service that supports children, bereaved, parent or sibling in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas, and typically a parent or a carer will be the ones that refer themselves into our service and our family liaison officers will respond to the online inquiry and reach out. To the person that's registered and have a conversation with them. And at that point often explain to them what services we do provide. So it goes from resources and books and a memory box to each child to then the offer of the variety of services we provide, which is the groups, different types of groups we cater up to age 25 years old, we have a rainbow holiday in Camber Sands. And we provide chips and activities throughout the year as well to further facilitate contact. UM. And we also do go that one step further for those that need additional support, we can provide therapeutic mentoring through another organisation and or counselling and arts therapy if needed as well. So, there's quite a variety of services and as I'm sure you'll agree, Claire, there is not a one-size-fits-all and there is not one route. Pass I don't believe. We go through a series of emotions in a particular order. It's not a linear process and very, very passionate about getting that across. It's a very unique experience and most people’s experiences will hugely vary, and we have to consider that. Children too, but at least if we create a community of people together, it can certainly decrease isolation and loneliness. And eventually increase people's coping strategies, positive coping strategies, ways in which people can support and help themselves, but also learned experience and shared experience. When people meet each other who are experiencing similar situations.

Clare Deacon

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I completely agree everything that I do in my work now is all about the individual and how unique they are because everybody's experience. Is very different. So, if I talk about, I first contacted Harry’s Rainbow in 2016 and it was quite soon after my husband had passed away, so he suffered A cardiac arrest. So, it was. Sudden and unexpected and at the time I had twins who had not long turned 5 and my eldest he turned well. He turned 9 literally within two weeks of my husband passing away and. I can remember as a mother that overwhelming sense of wanting to protect them and wanting to get them. The help they needed and finding that nobody could really give me. An answer or support me, I mean on the night that my husband passed away, I was literally asking everybody how am I going to tell my children? What do I do with them? And the best I got was a police officer returned to the house with a leaflet and said to me that might help you. And then they went away because. You kind of fall between the cracks of services. And this is one of the things that really concerns me about how many people get left completely isolated. I was in a village community, and I had people around me who rallied around, supported me and the children and. And got that assistance, but not everybody is as lucky as. So, I found myself just phoning around, like trying to access some kind of resources and I was met with answer machines. If at all I could find someone that could help but came across Harry’s Rainbow and I think. For me it was, I think I've said to you since it was like a huge sigh of relief, the find somebody who will pick up the phone and go. I've got you.

Odette Mould

It's and that's. That's what we want to provide with Harry's Rainbow, because I my experience obviously different to yours, but we both were mums that needed to do something for their children. We weren't finding the magic pill and we both know for well, there isn't one and. I don't. And I don't. You know, give any one fault that false scenario that that there is a magic pill. But what we will do is we'll as much as we can hold those that we're supporting the best way we can services that that we provide. And that that was my experience. It was nothing. And actually I paid, I'd tell friends and they were like what you must be joking. There's got to be something there. There's nothing I don't understand, you know, but not everyone. Not everyone has. That I don't know what word I'm looking for, but not everyone has the tools themselves or the capability themselves, because they're so crippled by what's happened to them. 22 search and hunt for what's available because we shouldn't have to do that, quite frankly. And so. Harry’s Rainbow work to really hard and we still need to do lots more work. To be available even if you don't, people in our community don't feel like they need what we do. Yet it sounds awful saying yet I've met a lot of people who along my journey. Have known what I've done with Harry's Rainbow and then. Tragically, have needed the support of Harry’s Rainbow, but I would rather everybody know we exist. So that they can pass our information on to people and for example, your experience could have been so much different. Had someone who came to see you in those really early hours and days and said to you, Claire, this is available, contact them and reach out and that's the community I want to create in Milton Keynes and in the surrounding areas that someone will know someone that knows our. Organisation exists and even anyone that's not in Milton Keynes and know of the organisations in their areas, because there are a few different organisations very similar to Harry’s Rainbow across the country where people always know where they can go to, and raising that awareness of grief and bereavement and the fact that we do need to talk about. Is it accepting? It's a conversation we need to have. That will hopefully increase people's awareness of the types of services that are available, so that when families find themselves in either of our situations. Somewhere being told to you that you can go.

Clare Deacon

Yeah, that, that's you know, it's absolutely critical for me in all ways is that I needed to have that hope, which. Is, you know why my business is called Happya, which is why my book's called blooming happya. Because you know, it's so fundamental to me that people understand whatever they're experiencing. It doesn't have to be similar to this one. Whatever their experience, that there's hope and that you can achieve more, that you can still live happya. Gives you that sense of well-being, and it's also about having that awareness and getting that message out there that even if it's not part of your experience that you haven't experienced that bereavement yourself directly, it's so that you know how to interact and communicate with others in your community. I mean, I know I've. Unfortunately, had to contact you since I first met. At you with other instances where I've been made aware where families have. Been bereaved and you've helped get some resources together for them as well so that we can reach out because in those early hours and days and weeks and months you can really find yourself. Yeah, I was talking to someone at on at the weekend, actually, who had experienced the loss of her husband and we were having a conversation and she was asking me. How it had played out for me, and I said, well, in those early months, it was very much, it's like either talking underwater or wearing a motorcycle helmet that you don't consume or absorb the world information that you're given. You can't take on board. I can remember in those early weeks being given and especially. With all the legal side and all of that different stuff, people would give you forms of technical information. I wasn't actually capable of reading those words. I could look at them, but they meant nothing to me because my head wouldn't function and it's now I've trained in psychology that I understand how the brain works and how it shuts down, and it's really important that people feel. Held by that. Yeah, I think the other thing really to cover off and. When I when my children first came to like a group meeting at Harry’s Rainbow and seeing how they enjoyed it and I. Think it's really important here to say about how all children respond differently? So why I've got twins. So they're the same age. So it's not even an age difference thing. Both of them, their grief journey and their approach. That has been completely different and their needs were very, very different at that time. But all three children, by being at Harry’s Rainbow in the early days, what they all came out with consistently is that they felt norm. They felt like they belonged and understood, and as much as there was that community. And, you know, my children had some phenomenal friends that supported them and were with them and wanted to help them. There were still people don't know what to say. And they don't know how to behave, and they don't know how to interact with you necessarily. But yeah, other children who have experienced it are the parents just know and it's. Having that knowing between you so you can get that connection of looking at someone else who has been through that experience, you don't need to use words you feel being part of that community. And that was really important in those early days because it gives you a sense of. Safety. It calms your nervous system. It makes you feel. As though you're safe and you're OK.

Odette Mould

 

Yeah. And there's no guilt feeling, so. So not everyone feels guilty. Absolutely not. And not all children do either. But some people how grief can play out is, is that you, you. You, I mean you were saying about feeling like you're underwater. I think when I look back now, I didn't maybe feel it at the time. But when I look back now. All I see is a completely numb person in me. I just that's what I visualise. It's a numbness, it's, you know, but. Got. You know, if we if we feel like we're or appear to be getting on with our lives and doing things it we can feel guilty for that and but when you have an environment where it's accepted you can laugh, you can cry, you can laugh and you can have fun and the children can have fun and we give them permission to do that. And sometimes when you're doing that in an environment where everyone does get it and everyone does understand, it just makes it, I feel and nicer, not nice. That's probably the wrong word, but a a better experience for our families and children.

Clare Deacon

It feels like you can breathe because coming into a group. And I'm bringing the children. It was for me. It was. Place I could take them and a place I knew I was going to be. OK, so if one of the children got really upset, there would be others there to support them. If I got upset, there would be and there would be an understanding and that's OK and we all. Hold each other together kind of thing. It's that's part of the experience. That's part of what you do. So, it's even getting out the door because. But for some people it will be really isolating and that becomes fearful and. It all becomes too much and then they withdraw a lot and then they're not accessing and that's where you know it gets really difficult to bring someone back if nobody is aware of what's going on for them. So that's really, really important. I think the other thing I really want to. Celebrate, I guess and acknowledge is it's not just that that side of things, it's also everything else that Harry’s Rainbow brings. So, I can remember we did a summer fun day where the children we all went down to Caldecott Lakes. My children were paddle boarding and canoeing and. There is a phenomenal picture where one of my kids is running off the end of their paddle board and jumping into the jumping into the lake with his arms outstretched, a false sense of freedom, and that's. What? Harry's Rainbow. Gave to him on that on that day that he could. Let go that he felt safe enough that he could just enjoy himself, but it was also again going along to an activity where I knew there were other people around me who were going to help me keep my children safe because. When you've experienced A trauma like that. You lose your sense of safety, don't you? And you know, for me. But even if you are more, you know, even if people have experienced terminal illness and they've had some understanding, it's still, it's still that day that happens. Your world still falls apart on a day. So when you've had something and that shock happened, something that you think shouldn't happen. To you. You never know when the next disaster is coming, and you're on kind. Of a hyper alert. So yeah, being in a space where? You know that other people are aware, but you'd feel like that and you're OK. And to take your hand physically or metaphorically and to be there and sit there and just. Have those conversations is brilliant and one of the other things we benefited from as a family is that we went to the. Harry's Rainbow Holiday home in Camber Sands and we had a fantastic time and. As a as a lone parent with three children being supportive and knowing that I was going to this place, that was all set up that it was. Safe that I had someone I could ask. You know that there were facilities around and stuff taking the children and doing that was just. Amazing and. I guess also as a family and the children felt they would be, they were special that they had been given this holiday and to be able to go on it and it was just it just makes all of the difference, all of those different things.

Odette Mould

I mean the services have been created through. Experiences that initially as a family I I went through with my family and that break away, you know that that all came from friends of ours sent us away. And I understood how important that was. So as soon as we were able to as a charity. That was fairly early on in our charity journey. It was really important to me to find. Something that we could send our families to, and it's still so, so popular now and we we've just, you know we had some funding from one of our amazing trustees who fundraised for us and we've just put the decking on it now. So we've got decking at the side of the. Van and A and a ramp as well for, you know, young mum, you know, people with buggies or disabled people or people that aren't as able bodied can access the car and even better now. But the services and the experiences, you know, create created. Through experience, but also it was intentional. The trip to Caldecott, because I knew as a mum. After my son dying that I didn't want to have any risk whatsoever to Jessica, but I also knew that our children need to take risks. And so if I could bring everyone into an environment where you as a parent, it's going to be scary. At times, watching our children in the water, watching our children do these amazing activities. But the experiences that the children would get from it. Would be probably long lasting memories, but also them enabling safe risk, taking positive risk taking so that was actually quite intentional, that trip to Caldecotte to be able to give parents and carers and children access and ability to do activities that that might otherwise be really difficult and scary for a parent. A widow or a parent of a child who's died to you know, to want their children to, to undertake and do so. I think it was quite successful in that respect.

Clare Deacon

Yeah. And I think seeing each of the children do the different things, I mean I think. Mine. Mine started the running off the paddle boards and jumping into the middle of the lake. And kind of a number of them. Followed, but then everyone was. Kept safe so it was accommodated. Those that weren't up for doing that were still able to be supported in doing other activities that still made them feel that sense of sense of safety and you know, mine still. Speak so fondly of that time and their time in Camber Sands, and I think I shared with you when I put together the photographs of all the different occasions in which. Harry’s Rainbow has supported us. I showed them to my daughter and she burst into tears and I was like, “ohh no, it wasn't meant to make you cry”. And she went. “I'm crying through happiness because I have so many amazing memories of the things that we did with them” and it was more a sense of it was all about a sense of. That she had, yeah. Or something else that I I've never shared with you. I haven't really thought about it either, but it just came up when you were talking and about the holiday to Camp Sands. It was in that in that. Holiday home that I made the decision that I would go back to university and study psychology, so I had. Yeah, I had had the conversation with the university, and I had been sent an unconditional offer and I'd been sent all of the paperwork and it had arrived just before I left the Camber Sands and I took it with me. On the holiday and we were there a couple of days, and I got up the next day and I was like, I'm putting this in the post. So we actually caught the bus into this, into the town centre and went and posted it at the post office for me to set out on my journey to go back to university and study psychology so.

Odette Mould

Wow. I mean, I hear these stories now and I, you know, I sit working flat out day in, day out for years and years and years. And then when you hear the impact, you know, I want to Harry’s Rainbow to give families long lasting impact. When I hear you know from you and you're telling me these things. It really is quite overwhelming and it really makes me feel quite emotional because I know it's working. I know it's working. You know, I'm not saying everyone needs to take my word for it, but this is absolute evidence that what we do helps people. And you know, obviously going to Camp Sands gave you some space to think and breathe and see if it was really something you really wanted to do and if that helps you on your journey, that's led to your amazing book, then that's incredible.

Clare Deacon

It's, it's it, you know, it's all part of the journey, isn't it? I mean, when you think about Harry’s Rainbow, therefore is a part of everybody's journey who works with me, and I help them to move beyond that state and feeling of sense of survival to living. A happya life if Harry's Rainbow hadn't been a part of that journey. Then we don't know how that would have all transpired. But yeah, I think having that space and feeling that sense of control and safety and enjoyment of being in that environment and seeing the kids thrive at the beach and all of that. Obviously enabled me to feel safe enough to. Put that. Application in the post, no matter how bonkers everyone thought I was that I was going. Back to university. To start all over again when I already had quite a lot on my plate.

Odette Mould

Yeah, and now you use your time to support and help other people through, not just bereavement. You know, probably a lot more of, you know, a much wider scope. I say not just bereavement, but imagine bereavement might be a a minimal number of those clients that you support, it might be more around those that have. I'm do correct me if I'm wrong. I've had traumatic events and I've been reading. I've been reading your book. I've not got to the end yet. But you also talk about traumatic events, not necessarily being what you might typically think. The traumatic event is a traumatic event that can happen to someone, an individual who is unique could be something that may not feel. Other people may not think is a traumatic event. So you've got quite a scope of people that you are supporting and therefore you know the book is going to help. From the book launch that we can talk about, obviously in a minute it is going really go on to helping a lot of people regardless of the scope of perhaps their. Their mental wellness, I suppose.

Clare Deacon

Yeah, I mean I don't know how often you hear this, but quite often in these situations, there's kind of. Like a trauma comparison. Oh well, my story. Your story sounds worse than mine. I had three children. You had two children or you had six children, or you didn't have children. Or, you know, you were. It wasn't unexpected you'd had some time or, you know, it was. There is no. Well, that was worse than that. Was better. It's all trauma. And. And that's one of the key things that I try to get through to people is. It's an event if an event significantly impacts on your physical and psychological well-being. That's trauma. We don't. We don't need to categorise it into whether it's newsworthy or not. It's. About the fact that it's had a detrimental impact on your well-being and you have a right to say. I've been impacted and to get the help and support you need and that's something that I'm really keen to get that message across so that because I feel there's so many people who are stuck in a survival mode who get lost through events that have taken place. And they don't feel worthy or good enough to actually reach out and get that support, which is why it's also important that the wider community has an awareness so that they can signpost as well. To get some help.

Odette Mould

Who would you say? Because I I feel like this book is your book's going to be really helpful to people that may not even think that it's designed for them. I'm certainly recognising a lot of things through reading the book. I definitely understand that survival mode and you may not even realise you're in survival mode. So, I'm thinking about the people that don't think to get themselves a book because they're perhaps in a different place and they're not even, you know, thinking that it's not even on their radar to feel like they need it.

Clare Deacon

Yeah. So it's interesting actually because it was. Through my husband, passing away that I actually went and got help that I needed for myself. But I what I would say is was really important and what it uncovered is I needed to have got help many years before through other things that had happened in my life, but because. I tick certain boxes. You know. What did I have to complain about? I had a good job. I had a nice house. I had an amazing husbands. I had three beautiful children. What? What did I really need to complain about that in? Pride because of the experience of other trauma, I was brushing my. Capability really and not living that happya life because. I didn't feel good enough or worthy enough, and all of those things, and that's very much where I come from, that it's when you have that sense of feeling lost or overwhelmed or you just generally have a sense of there must be something. To life and that you have your own. Presence in the world. That you can explore and really flourish. And so the book is actually aimed at everyone because. There is. There's not a single person on this planet who hasn't experienced some form of trauma and.

Odette Mould

Can help them recognise that and I guess through want of a different slightly different explanation in in blooming happya is living your best life like you just said it's about being given the tools. For you to live the bestest life that you can. You know which? Yeah. It's amazing and I agree. I think this book is going to be. Uh, you know I've. I've got the book and I've encouraged it already. Once I've finished it, my staff to read it as well and somebody I'm next, you know, because and I'll do that and share about it and hopefully you know we'll have some. You've already sold lots and lots of #1 Amazon bestseller, which is amazing, but obviously we want to lots of people to be aware of the book, and we hope that the book launch that you're organising is going to help more people be aware of it. And actually I'm thinking that some of those people that come on the day who will receive a book. We'll read it and that they will be starting on their journey towards their best life without maybe even need, knowing that they needed the book in the first place.

Clare Deacon

Yeah, I think that it it's been written so that there's something in there no matter where your starting point is whether you're recovering from a traumatic incident that has happened or whether you are just looking to up level and hate your life to another stage process that it goes through in that book is suits, suits both and that's how it's been. Put together and written. So let's cover off the book launch event so. Obviously, I think you know the story that I've told explains why I chose Harry’s Rainbow to that. I wanted to support as part of my launch that it really brings together the journey. Me that I had set out on and the whole principle and philosophy under which my whole business is written. So, we're going to be at Sultan's restaurant in the theatre district in Milton Keynes on the 29th of February from 12:00. And I've organised for we will get welcome drinks and some fabulous canopies where they're going to be showcasing their entire menu to us of what they can provide. You'll also get a bitty bag, which is. I'm focused on. There might be one there. Focused on. Your well-being, just a few treats in there and there will be a signed copy of the book as well. It's really an opportunity for everyone to connect, understand a bit more about what Harry’s Rainbow does, ask questions about the book, but connect with other people from the area. We actually have people coming from across the country. I think the furthest I know at the moment is from Scotland. I've got. Someone coming down to attend the event and we will have a photographer there as well to take a record of the event and what we're enjoying. So it's £25 for a ticket and then we're also I've got a raffle going. So lots of raffle prizes are being donated and are coming in and tickets are £5. For the raffle and we've got things like I've got afternoon tea for two. I've got social media, one to one support, Instagram reviews. I've got some beauty products, we've got chocolates, we've got Prosecco. We've got. We need chocolates. We've got some books that are being donated and different services that are being offered that are all going to be part of the raffle. So even if people can't join us in person, if you want to be a part of the event and purchase some raffle tickets, then the links for. Ticket to the event and raffle tickets are all on the web page, which is happyacoach.com/event and I will drop it in the comments for hosting this interview.

Odette Mould

We've got some amazing guests as well. We've got we've got the mayor, rest of Milton Keynes coming along and she's really excited to be coming. Long, representing Milton Keynes coming to our event, which is quite a it's a unique event and it's a blend of what you've done and obviously supporting Harry’s Rainbow. It's a blend of our partnership, which is amazing, but £25 per ticket is an absolute bargain because not only do people get the amazing book that you've written. But you get some will be in bits and pieces in there as well.

Clare Deacon

Yes, lots of exciting stuff and you get your lunch as well. Get some food and drink, yeah.

Odette Mould

Added bonus, I'm so excited.

Clare Deacon

It it's promising to be a really good event. We've got some great people who are who are coming along and supporting us. So very much looking forward to it and hitting the target for raising some much needed funds for. Harry's Rainbow very excited.

Odette Mould

I mean, you can beat it going to an event, a really fun event, bargain price, food, drink, goodie bag, amazing book that's going to help you towards your better life, but also the best. The best thing is that it's all going to be supporting bereaved children, all the profits for the event. It's going to be supporting bereaved children. I think it's just as wrapped up as a whole amazing event.

Clare Deacon

Right. It's fantastic. And you know, we've had some great feedback and lots of people really excited about attending it. So, we would love to see as many of you there as can make it. And if you've got any questions then either reach out to myself or adapt and I'm sure we can get you sorted. OK. So, thank you, Odette, for joining me today and we will catch up again soon.

Odette Mould

Yeah, absolutely. See you soon. Take care.