2018 has been literally an Annus horribilis for Joey Ayres from Lincoln, East Midlands, as she lost her partner only nine months after they lost their 6-year-old daughter. If that wasn't enough to make one grief, the mother of seven also lost her sister in the intervening period.
According to reports, Ayres and and her husband Mark Barfoot's worlds collapsed when their daughter, 6-year-old Lyla, died of sepsis in March this year. This was just a week after she was rushed to the hospital after complaining of a headache. The year only got worse later on when Mark collapsed and died of a heart attack on his way to pick up their 2-year-old granddaughter on November 13.
The Daily Mail reported that paramedics and kind-hearted strangers tried to help the 47-year-old but he was later pronounced dead in the hospital at 6 pm, which was the same time down to the exact minute that Lyla died.
The grieving mother, who also lost her sister Sharon this year, said: "I got calls from a lot of people - I was in total shock, I couldn't believe it was happening again. Mark was a perfect dad - he really was. He was loving and kind and would do anything for anyone. Family was his life and his world."
She continued: "I am heartbroken - we all are. It gives me comfort to know he [Mark] is up there with Lyla. My eldest sister Sharon passed away in a hospice this year. We have had three die in nine months. 2018 really has been a horrendous year. You couldn't write it in a book."
Even though she is devastated and in pain right now, the mother-of-seven said that she puts her pain to the back of her mind to make sure that she is there for her family.
She said: "It is hard but I am trying to stay strong. I want to make Christmas as magical as possible for the kids and the grandchildren. Mark would have wanted me to carry on and be strong."
The mother also had to go through the most painful situation that any parent could face - trying to explain to the couple's 11-year-old son Mason that his father was gone.
She said: "Mason is heartbroken. He keeps saying Daddy is hiding and he is going to find him. He said he can't enjoy Christmas because it isn't fair that his sister and dad aren't here. As a mother, that is heartbreaking to hear - it is the worst thing anyone can go through."
In spite of her grief, the mother has said that she is extremely grateful for all those who tried to help her husband and all those who have worked hard to raise money to help support her family. She added: "I want to thank One-Stop for doing some fund-raising for the family."
"I want to thank everyone who helped on the night Mark passed away. I want to thank Ermine Primary Academy who are holding a memorial service for Lyla on December 13."
A GoFundMe page was set up by a family friend to help the family raise money for the funeral and other costs.