Irfon Williams from Bangor, was a loving father, cherished husband and a leading campaigner for the rights of cancer patients. But after his tragic death from bowel cancer at the young age of 46, how is his wife Becky and their children, Sion and Ianto, coping with life without Irfon?
In the powerful documentary DRYCH: Byw heb Irfon (translation: ‘Living without Irfon’) to be shown on Sunday, 23 September, S4C follow Becky and her family, over a period of a year, as they learn how to live alongside their painful grief.
The programme looks through Becky’s eyes how a young family deals with death, and how as a mother, Becky is helping her children learn to grieve and adjust to life without their father.
Programme director Rhys Edwards and producer Sian Morgan Lloyd developed a close relationship with Irfon and the family while filming a previous documentary about the last months of his life. Becky, aged 39 and a registered psychiatric nurse like her late husband, said: ”Irfon and I had always believed in talking to others when facing difficulties and our hope was from our devastating experience something positive must come from it.
“We spoke openly about Irfon’s cancer treatment and it felt natural to continue the honest conversation. Going through grief is lonely; everybody’s grief is unique. I think going through grief as a young person feels even more lonely as it’s not natural to find yourself a widow in your thirties.”
Dr Kübler Ross, a psychiatrist put forward that there are five steps in bereavement, 1. Refusal to accept. 2. Anger. 3 Bargaining. What if? Why me? 4. Depression. 5. Acceptance. Becky finds it’s not always exactly like that. Grief isn’t a natural, linear process but a messed-up rollercoaster of emotions. It’s very confusing emotionally and a real mental health challenge.
As well as discussing her own experiences, Becky will meet other people who have experienced grief. One of these people is Rem Owen, who lost his wife Sue in totally different circumstances to Becky, as she was killed suddenly in a car accident aged only 50. How was his experience of grief different from Becky’s, who knew that she was facing becoming a widow? Is it easier reaching the final step of acceptance when you have had time to prepare for your loved one’s death?
Becky also meets Pete and Mo Henderson. They are psychotherapists and run a Buddhist retreat in Brittany. Becky and Irfon knew them and had planned to go there before Irfon died. Becky has used mindfulness as a way of coping with her grief and spending the first anniversary of Irfon’s death at the retreat in France is a way for Becky to reflect on how far the family have moved in their grief journey and continue the life she and Irfon had planned.
You can watch the programme on S4C, Sunday 23rd Sept 9pm. S4C is available outside Wales on Sky 134, Freesat 120 and Virgin TV 166. English subtitles are available.
Roedd Irfon Williams yn ŵr, tad ac ymgyrchydd. Ond wedi ei farwolaeth, sut mae ei deulu yn ymdopi â byw heb Irfon?
— S4C (@S4C) September 18, 2018