About this Website

Welcome from Philippa and Graeme Skinner

Welcome to the 'See You Soon' website which is linked to the published book of the same name. The book and this website explore, from a personal perspective, issues around bereavement, drugs in the family and hope.

Bereavement is a devastating experience in any circumstance and there seem to be universal factors, but each bereavement is also unique, founded in the situation of the person who died and in the lives of the people left behind.

We are not experts and we are not trying to 'explain drugs' or addiction. This is a personal story written with the aim of keeping others company, as well as reminding all of us that every person who gets mixed up with drugs has their own story. Nobody is 'just a drug addict'.

Our son, Jim, died in 2007 following a heroin overdose, whilst he was working with St Stephen's Society in Hong Kong.

Breavement by addiction

After Jim died we found ourselves on a steep learning curve, as we began to understand some of the factors which make bereavement by addiction very painful for those left behind.

There are all the usual factors which are relevant to losing any person you love, and there are also specific factors which need to be considered.

  • For us, the first among these was a strong sense of shame. How were we going to face up to what had happened, and how were we going to tell other people - grandparents, godparents, friends and colleagues? What would they think of Jim and what would they think of us? We live in a culture where there can be little spare sympathy for men and women who develop addictions of any sort, an attitude of 'Well, they brought it on themselves.'

  • Then there was guilt. Endless self-questioning about what we did wrong and could we have done anything to prevent such an outcome? We felt we had failed as parents.

  • Associated with these was an intense feeling of loneliness. A sense of being locked in with bad feelings which back then we felt that nobody could understand.


As well as feelings of guilt, shame, stigma and isolation, there are often several other complicating factors.

  • Often the person has died at an early age, leaving many hopes and expectations unfulfilled.

  • The exact circumstances of the death may be unclear, and relatives may suffer distress trying to imagine what happened.

  • There will be police investigations and other official procedures to be dealt with, including referral to the coroner's court and an inquest.

  • Prolonged use of drugs or alcohol by the person who died may have caused many problems in his/her family, leaving a strong sense of 'unfinished business', broken relationships and many regrets.

  • Little in the way of specialist support except where courageous individuals had learnt from their own experience and set up local support networks.

The list could go on but further information can be found on more specialist websites.

This website and the linked book, 'See you Soon', is part of our personal response to the difficulties we found in coming to terms with such a traumatic event.

Our hopes for this website

  • We hope that by telling some of our story through writing and pictures, we might give company to others who end up plodding through the same territory.

  • We also hope that there is something that can help anyone who wants to understand more, perhaps because they are trying to support someone else.

  • Above all, we hope that anyone who accesses this site or reads the book will find encouragement and hope for themselves, whatever their own situation. The articles provide a sort of journey through one personal grief process over the early years, starting in loss and confusion and moving on to a more reflective approach.


We are not setting out to provide in depth knowledge and information as most of that can be found on many excellent sites, and we are not experts, just parents. However, we give links to other sites which will provide further links to specific support websites.

See you soon

In his last letter to us, written a few weeks before he died, Jim concluded, 'See you soon (relatively)'. These few words, written in the expectation that we would soon go to visit him in Hong Kong, where he was then living, became very poignant as we grappled with despair and tried to find hope for a meaningful future.

The story from Philippa's point of view is recorded in the book, including what she's had to learn and how she is rediscovering hope and what that means for her future.

All profit from the sale of the book will be donated to

Who are we?

To find out a little more about us click here.