'I'm not ready to let her go' - Funeral planned for Ipswich mum who died after giving birth
- Credit: Jack Walden
An Ipswich dad whose wife died two days after giving birth has said he wants her funeral to be "a huge celebration of life".
Jessica Walden, 28, tragically passed away on May 9, less than 48 hours after delivering her second daughter.
Baby Orla was born "perfect and healthy" but Mrs Walden suffered complications which led to emergency surgery after the birth, with the surgeon saying he had "never seen anything like it" in his 20 years of practice.
Jessica sadly died hours after the surgery and her official cause of death has still not been established. Her family hope to have clearer answers in the next few weeks following extensive post-mortem investigations.
Her husband, who is now single-handedly raising the couple's two young daughters, says the last two months have been like "living in limbo."
"We were told we could've had the funeral sooner but we would have had to do it without her brain, as it was sent to Addenbrooke's with some other parts for testing," Mr Walden explained.
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"I said no - her brain was what made her who she was. It wouldn't have felt right to do the funeral with parts of her missing. So we had to wait, and for the last two months it's been like living in limbo. I didn't know whether I was coming or going."
Mr Walden says the lack of information surrounding his wife's death has made it impossible to find any sense of closure.
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"You're left with every possible option going through your mind. Has someone done something by mistake? Has something been missed? Could it all have been avoided?
"I won't rest until I know what happened to my wife. I want answers for the girls, for when they're older. They deserve to know why their mum is not here."
The couple share two daughters, two-year-old Elsie and two-month-old Orla, and Mr Walden has spoken of the challenges of being newly widowed on top of caring for a newborn and toddler.
"I never expected to be in this position," he said.
"Night times are the hardest, knowing she's not there next to me anymore."
Mr Walden says Elsie still asks for her mum every day.
"It's either when she's hurt herself or when she's upset, and at bedtime, she always asks for her. Every night we lay in bed together and talk about her.
"She knows she's up in the sky. She waves at the sky and talks to her. Yesterday she was on a swing and said 'push me higher so I can go and see mummy'."
Before her passing, Jessica was said to "absolutely live for her kids", and her husband says one of the things he misses the most is seeing her with their daughter.
"I miss everything about her. From waking up in the morning and seeing her there, to our daily routine and sending silly texts to one another. I even miss her moaning at me for not doing something - it's the little things you don't think about.
"But I miss seeing her and Elsie together more than anything. She was just brilliant. I miss seeing that."
The Walden family's story sent shockwaves through the local community and prompted an enormous outpouring of love online. A JustGiving page was set up by one of Jessica's colleagues and raised over £50,000, pulling in support from both friends and strangers alike.
The funds raised have paid for Jessica's funeral and allowed Mr Walden to take a career break in order to be "fully present" for his children as the family adjusts to life without their beloved fourth member.
"They're already missing out on the most important thing in their life, they can't miss out on me as well.
"The money has given me that time to spend with them as we take on a new start that nobody wanted. All we can do is try to make the best of a horrible situation."
Mr Walden said he "can't find the words to thank people enough" for their generosity and for the time it has given him with his daughters.
He has also praised both his mum, Theresa, and Jessica's parents, Julie and Neil, for their support with the girls since his wife's passing.
"I've had so much support - they've all been amazing. I don't know where I'd be without them."
One of Mr Walden's highest priorities is making sure his daughters know exactly who their mum was as they get older.
"I just don't want them to forget their mum. That's one thing I'll make sure of - keeping her memory alive and making sure she lives on.
"I can't bring myself to touch the house yet. It's all as it was. It's the little things that get to you, like seeing her coats hanging up, or when I got back from the hospital and her washing was still on our bed."
Two-year-old Elsie is said to have started wearing Jessica's perfume because "it reminds her of her mum", and Mr Walden says he sprays the perfume on his wife's pillow every night.
"Smells just take you back to a place all of a sudden. It's a bit of comfort. I'll carry on buying the perfume until they stop making it. It's the little things like that you need to carry on."
Mrs Walden's funeral has been set for Wednesday, July 28, at the Seven Hills Crematorium in Ipswich.
"I'm still not ready to let her go. I'll never be ready to let her go. The planning of the funeral is hard and the day is going to be even harder.
"Of course it will be sad but we also want it to be a huge celebration of her life. We want to celebrate the happy times and the beautiful person she was."
There is an open invitation in place for those wishing to attend the funeral and Jessica's family are hoping to see a large turnout on the day.
"I want everyone who ever knew her to be there," Mr Walden said.
"The saving grace of having to wait this long is that restrictions have been eased and we can have the big funeral she deserves."
The service will begin at midday and will be followed by a wake at The Bramford Cock, in Jessica's home village.
Mr Walden said anybody who knew Jessica is invited to join the family at the wake, saying he just wants everyone to "all be together."
"We just want to show Jess how much she was loved by everybody."