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Archie's death is a dagger in my heart, says Andrea McAleese who lost daughter Roma

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 07/01/2016

Tragic: Roma McAleese
Tragic: Roma McAleese

A Co Antrim woman who endured the agony of losing a young child has offered her sincerest condolences to the family of little Archie Tafts.

The two-year-old was tragically killed when a chest of drawers fell on him on Tuesday in his family home in Cloughmills.

Andrea McAleese - who lost her three-year-old daughter, Roma, when she was hit by a car close to her home - told the Belfast Telegraph: "When I heard the news of Archie's death, I actually felt sick.

"It's like a dagger in my heart, which really goes out to them.

"There are no words that can make it better for these people now. I wish there was something I could say or do, but there's not."

Ms McAleese is the driving force behind the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden in Coleraine - a project that gives grieving parents the opportunity to commemorate their lost children.

She said the sad news of Archie's death had brought back the feelings of pain that she and other parents who have lost children in tragic circumstances know only too well.

"It's coming up to seven years since Roma was knocked down but it still feels like it's just yesterday," added Ms McAleese.

"They say that time's a great healer, but it's not. You learn to live with the pain.

"You are not meant to lose a child. There's not even a word to describe a person who loses a child. You have got widowers and widows, but there's no word to describe the loss of a child because it's just so horrific.

"When I lost Roma, I remember sitting in my house a few days later just crying to my mum, telling her, 'Get me someone who's lost a child', because I needed to see living proof that you could survive this pain.

"I really didn't think you could go on without them."

Ms McAleese thought of the concept for the Angel of Hope garden - which has more than 100 stars on its walls - shortly after Roma was killed because she needed a place to grieve other than her child's grave.

"Only those who have lost a child can really understand what Archie's parents are going through," she said.

"That's why I think that the Angel of Hope garden is such a good idea in that you can meet with other parents who share a similar experience. On behalf of all the people associated with the garden, we send our sincerest condolences to Archie's family, and if there's anything we can ever do to help, we will."

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