Chris Daykin was a stay-at-home dad and loving husband living in Halifax, England. Like any other devoted father, he enjoyed spending time with his daughters, Pearl, 4, and Iris, 2.
While his wife Helen was away on business trips most workdays, he was the one getting the kids to school on time. Then, one morning, he suddenly broke his normal routine.
When the girls hadn’t shown up to class, Pearl’s school tried contacting Chris, but he never picked up. Not once did they tried getting in touch with Helen, who was just working in London.
Helen also made a phone call to Chris that morning but got no answer. She assumed he was either busy taking the girls to school or had misplaced his phone.
It wasn’t until later that day that she found out the whereabouts of her husband. Helen’s mom had driven over to the house but couldn’t unlock the door.
Strangely enough, the windows were also dark and the milk had been left out. Worried and confused, the grandma called the police to break down the door.
That’s when they found the two daughters lying in bed next to their dad’s dead body. Chris had suddenly died from heart failure the night prior.
Helen got the call about her husband’s death around 8 p.m. while catching a train home. If Chris’ death wasn’t enough to put the mom in shock, she also couldn’t believe that their kids had been alone for that long.
“They spent the whole day upstairs, they didn’t come down at all,” she said. “They played with all my shoes and makeup, but they didn’t venture further in the house.”
When the two girls couldn’t wake their dad, they tried placing indigestion pills in his mouth. At some point they curled up, not leaving their father’s side.
Although Chris’ death happened almost a year ago, Helen is now bringing awareness to these types of situations.
She told BBC News that schools should strongly follow First Day Calling procedures, which may mean calling additional contacts or visiting the home when a child is absent.
Her campaign supporter, Good Grief Trust charity, has also pushed the agenda.
“A parent dies in this country every 22 minutes, and that could be one of those parents that are by themselves, nobody knows they’re by themselves with the children,” said founder, Linda Magistris.
This situation has traumatized Pearl and Iris, according to Helen. Her hope is that schools will start making sure absent students are safe so this doesn’t happen again.
“Please go and ask your child’s school what their policy is on First Day Calling,” Helen said on Facebook. “If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, keep pushing them until you do.”
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