This Morning viewers were in tears as they watched a “brave” mum recount the death of her 11-year-old son.
Sarah Pullen joined Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on Thursday’s show to talk about her beloved child Silas, who passed away from an aggressive brain tumour.
She was on the sofa to discuss the grieving process and how the family are coping ahead of their fourth Christmas without Silas.
Sarah explained that Silas began experiencing headaches and then lost his speech, becoming unable to get his words out.
She called an ambulance which rushed Silas to the hospital; he crashed on arrival and was taking for CAT scans, which revealed his brain tumour.
Surgery removed 70 per cent of the tumour but the diagnosis was still devastating.
“They told us he would be dead within a year to 15 months,” said Sarah. “We could choose to do no treatment or choose to do chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which would give him a few extra months.”
They chose for Silas to undergo the treatments, as well as a second operation and an immunotherapy trial.
Heartbreakingly, Sarah then revealed: “At one stage during his treatment, he asked if he was going to die. It was very early, when we were trying to have hope, so I said to him, ‘That’s why we are doing treatment’.
“We always said we wouldn’t lie to him. But he never asked again.”
Sarah said Silas suffered “terrible dementia” because of his tumour, and many things changed such as his behaviour, demeanour, memory and appetite.
“Maybe he never asked because he couldn’t hold that thought, but maybe he didn’t ask because he didn’t want to know,” she said.
Sarah and her husband broke the news of Silas’ terminal illness to their three young sons separately, explaining what was happening to each of them in words appropriate for their age.
She said Christmas is a particularly difficult time for them, especially as she has strong memories of Silas’ last Christmas, when the boys gathered around him in bed to watch Home Alone and laugh.
This is the first year since Silas’ death she and her husband feel strong enough to celebrate Christmas at their family home.
“The first Christmas we went to Central America, to Nicaragua, and did things like surfing down volcanoes. We didn’t celebrate Christmas, we told everyone we didn’t want presents and wouldn’t give presents. It was really hard in that build up to Christmas that year, with the decorations, the ‘merry Christmas’, the jingly songs.
“When you’re miserable it’s really hard. You want to say, ‘Look at me, can’t you see me?’ You think it’s written across your head and [your grief] should be obvious to everyone.”
Sarah said there is a pain attached to receiving Christmas cards as well, when people don’t include Silas’ name.
“When there’s no mention of Silas, it’s impossibly hard. I would rather they said, ‘Remembering Silas’ or ‘Always thinking about Silas’,” she said.
“We talk about Silas an awful lot. We want to keep him there in our family.”
Sarah encouraged people to talk about grief and said be prepared to “put your foot in it” as it will happen.
“To keep talking about the person is so important because all you want to do, as a grieving person, is know other people are thinking about you and your husband and whoever it may be, that the person is still there, in their lives.”
Sarah added: “This will be our first Christmas at home. It’s been a big decision. We feel we’re strong enough now to do it. It takes time.
“Everyone has to do their own thing and be slightly selfish about Christmas. Maybe change little traditions, or if those traditions are comforting, keep them.
“Do what is right for you. I think it will probably be easier than we think. And once we do it, we think it will be easier again [the next time].”
Viewers were in awe of Sarah’s bravery and eloquence.
This Morning airs weekdays at 10.30am on ITV.