Afghanistan memorial wall

Martin Harrison and his wife Gill

SSAFA support groups are a lifeline to families like Martin and Gill's, providing communal support amongst bereavead families.

Martin Harrison and his wife Gill

Martin and Gill's younger son Corporal Christopher Harrison, 26, died in a fatal explosion on 9 May 2010. This happened whilst he led a patrol of Royal Marines helping to provide security for the people of Sangin.

Here Martin tells us how their life has been affected by their loss since that day.

Martin Harrison

I have been left with a big void in my life.

Martin Harrison describes how his life has changed since he lost his son.

Martin's son was killed in Afghanistan“Chris was married, I saw him regularly and he was a very family orientated person. I have been left with a big void in my life. The realisation that he will never have the chance to have his own family and that I will never be a grandfather to his children is particularly difficult to comprehend.

After Chris died, his wife was living alone in Somerset and felt very isolated without him. Looking out for her and planning his funeral gave me a focus – we did what we could to help support Chris’s wife whilst arranging the service.

After his funeral, the distraction of all the planning faded. I was left with the grief and wondering what might have been. Life literally changes in a second and I would say that say that day to day my life is still dominated by events around his death – it is very important to keep his memory alive.

So many things in daily life remind me of Chris which is bitter sweet.

Martin and his wife Gill"I am a robust character and can compartmentalise things. I find time to carry on living and put time aside to think of Chris. My wife Gill found it harder – our children are everything to her and it is only in the last couple of years that she has managed to move forward with her life. I definitely find it helps to keep busy and although I retired after Chris’s death I still do freelance work, and through SSAFA took part in an interview for Forces TV.

Organisations like SSAFA are very helpful in that the support groups introduce you to people who have been in a similar military bereavement situation. You can share experiences and it gives you a focus. Our family and Chris's wife have also been a huge support and, on a positive note, my other son got married earlier this year and is expecting our first grandchild."

Martin Harrison

We have found the SSAFA support groups really helpful.

"So many things in daily life remind me of Chris which is bitter sweet, but in time you embrace that. You never get over such a huge loss but you learn to live with it. We have found the SSAFA support groups really helpful. Networking with other bereaved military families seems to be the most beneficial therapy for us.

For Gill, after 4 years of not being able to face up to the prospect of attending a SSAFA meeting after our son's death, she agreed to attend a national forum year. Gill got real benefit from the experience, made new friends and looks forward to attending other SSAFA events."