Jason Watkins and his wife Clara Francis attended couples therapy together for the first time since the death of their daughter Maude in heart-breaking scenes aired in their documentary, In Memory of Maudie.
The actor, 60, and his wife lost their two-year-old daughter Maude to sepsis in 2011 and the couple have now made a documentary to raise awareness to other parents about the symptoms and dangers of the potentially fatal infection.
During the programme, the couple reveal they have never attended a therapy session together and have previously only gone alone while processing the death of their little girl.
Deciding to go to a session together, the couple are seen talking to a therapist about the day they lost their daughter after discovering her body at home on New Year’s Day, after doctors dismissed their concerns about her symptoms.
She was discovered in her bed the following morning by Jason and Clara after their eldest daughter Bessie told them she couldn’t wake her sister.
Tragic: Jason Watkins and his wife Clara Francis attended couples therapy together for the first time since the death of their daughter Maude in heart-breaking scenes aired in their documentary, In Memory of Maudie
Jason said that while the couple were keen to death others with their grief, they had decided it was time to also properly process their own, and went to meet psychotherapist Julia Samuel, one of the founders of Child Bereavement UK.
Discussing the harrowing morning of Maude’s death, Jason and Clara, who are patrons of the charity, admitted it ‘wasn’t going to be easy – but if it’s easy then you’re not starting to heal’.
Jason and Clara recalled the morning they took Maude to her hospital when she began to have difficulty breathing after previously being told by medics that she was suffering from croup.
Julia said that she could still feel the ‘terror’ that they couple feel surrounding he car journey to the hospital, and Clara replied:
‘It’s funny because I haven’t really thought about this car journey in such depth. I can really just feel the weight of her on my lap.
‘When I think of the sort of trauma and when people talk of the trauma I sort of think ‘oh that will be the day that we found her dead’ but actually going through that car journey I hadn’t really done it.
‘I do feel if I had been a different sort of person I could have said ‘no I want you to keep her in tonight”.
Jason said: ‘That is the awful hand that we are dealt. You’re left with, oh god did I do everything I could have done as a parent?’
Tough: During the programme, the couple reveal they have never attended a therapy session together and have previously only gone alone while processing the death of their little girl
Julia responded: ‘It’s the questions, the what ifs, the if I had, that is really hard to come to terms with any nothing anyone can say can fix that for you because Maude died.’
Watkins said: ‘I can still feel me breathing trying to breathe my breath in to her and it not working. Then I went downstairs because I’d left Clara with Bessie.’
Clara revealed she was watching this happen but Jason had forgotten or blanked this from his memory of the day.
Jason said: ‘You were watching me do it? Oh god’. As he brought his hands to his head and Julia reassured him his capacity to remember goes ‘completely offline’.
Heartbreaking: The actor, 60, and his wife lost their two-year-old daughter Maude to sepsis in 2011 and the couple have now made a documentary to raise awareness to other parents about the symptoms and dangers of the potentially fatal infection
Brave: Fans praised the couple for their bravery in their new moving documentary
Jason went on to confess that the ‘worst bit’ for him was that she was on her own when she went from the mortuary to the hospital to have a post-mortem.
He said: ‘In my mind I still think she’s alive on that journey and that I should have been there to look after her.’ Clara then said she didn’t know about his guilt about not being there with Maude.
She added: ‘I just feel sad that you never told me, you were probably trying to protect me.’
Jason said: ‘I didn’t want to talk about it because that bit…[haunts you?]. Yes.’
Reflecting on the session which Jason said had been a ‘revelation’, he said it made him see how strong his wife has been ‘rebuilding her working life and being their rock’, while he felt he had bottled up his grief in a ‘typical male response’.
Fans praised the couple for their bravery in their new moving documentary.
The documentary was well-received by viewers, who said it was a ‘heartbreaking’ but ‘important’ watch to raise awareness of sepsis.
One viewer wrote: ‘I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child. Thinking of @Jason__Watkins & Clara #inmemoryofmaudie a very moving documentary’.
Another echoed: ‘#InMemoryofMaudie is heartbreaking to watch, but it’s so important that awareness of sepsis is raised. Such bravery from Jason and Clara to allow this to be filmed.’
A third added: ‘Watching ten minutes in & I’m already finding it heartbreaking. #InMemoryofMaudie’.
A fourth said: ‘ I really don’t know how a parent carries on. Just unbearable #InMemoryofMaudie’.
While a fifth tweeted: ‘A beautiful, powerful documentary Jason. You have helped so many already and I feel that with the film, you’ll have helped in those moments so many more.’
And a sixth agreed, writing: ‘Christ this is tough watch. I’ve no idea how you cope with the loss of a child. They are so brave, whilst still drowning in grief, making this to try & raise awareness #InMemoryofMaudie #sepsis’.
In heartbreaking scenes the couple sifted through their daughter’s belongings for the first time since her death.
Emma, a close friend of the couple, packed up Maude’s clothes and toys and stored them in her loft.
Devastating: Eleven years after her sudden death, the couple have filmed a documentary titled Jason & Clara: In Memory of Maudie, where they will discuss their grief battle
Devastating: The documentary was well-received by fans, who said it was a ‘heartbreaking’ but ‘important’ watch and praised the bravery of Jason and Clara
‘I found it very difficult to go in to Maude’s bedroom and just see all her stuff as if she were still going to come in,’ Clara said in the documentary which aired on Thursday night.
‘So Emma took it all out and Emma has been looking after it in her loft for 11 years.
‘Weirdly as time has gone on those things have taken on value to me and I think if we’d got rid of them immediately it wouldn’t be a problem, but because they’ve been there, they’ve taken on a significance and now I feel compelled to go through them.’
Clara, a fashion designer, broke down in tears as she unzipped a bag containing a pair of her daughter’s ‘little shoes’, while Jason picked out a Peter Rabbit toy.
‘I don’t know if I can do it,’ Clara said. ‘What are we going to gain from it? Are you wanting to keep stuff?
‘There’s a part of me that wants to put my hand in the bag and just grab something and try to get used to it, just to try to make myself keep them.’
Jason, who won a Bafta for The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, said: ‘The fact that it’s so physical, it’s such a physical thing. It’s the closest you can get to having her with us.’
The couple allowed cameras to document their journey as they prepare to move out of the flat where their daughter was born, and later died.
Scenes, which were interspersed with photos and home videos of Maude, showed them attending therapy for the first time together, with Clara revealing she can still feel the weight of her daughter from the car journey to hospital.
They were also seen comforting their son Gilbert, 11, who got tearful while visiting a bench in memory of the sister he never knew.
Awful: Clara, a fashion designer, broke down in tears as she unzipped a bag containing a pair of her daughter’s ‘little shoes’, while Jason picked out a Peter Rabbit toy
‘I don’t know if I can do it,’ Clara said. ‘What are we going to gain from it? Are you wanting to keep stuff?
The couple have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness for sepsis, with Jason attending a ground breaking training programme at Kings College Hospital which attempts to teach medical professionals how to detect signs.
Visiting the morgue and coroners court, Jason said: ‘This is the most difficult bit. I have this thing about her being on her own when she left the house in that black ambulance and she was taken here.
‘I know it seems macabre but by sharing it maybe it unburdens me a bit or it’s sort of saying she existed, she was alive not just wherever she is now.’
He added: ‘Obviously it was missed. There’s a bit of anger there obviously… I know that irrationally I’m doing this because if I crack it and no more children die, which is ridiculous because they will sadly and that I fully understand the condition that is sepsis, that Maude will come back walk into the room, I’ve got it I’ve cracked it this is what we need to do and she’ll come back into the room… but that’s irrational and that will never stop.’
The family visited a bench dedicated to Maude, with Jason saying: ‘Not a single day goes by when we don’t think about Maude and there is one special place we visit to remember her’
The family visited a bench dedicated to Maude, with Jason saying: ‘Not a single day goes by when we don’t think about Maude and there is one special place we visit to remember her.
‘I like going to the bench with the family and I like going on my own as well. I don’t necessarily cry there but I do like that because I feel close to her and all those things.
‘Gilbert always chirps up and asks ‘am I Maude’s substitute am I a replacement for Maude?’ He’s not stupid. I say ‘Of course you’re not you’re your own person thank god you saved us’. He is a bit of a saviour in that respect because he came along.
‘And for Bessie she also saved us she was just so strong. She was there and suddenly her sister wasn’t there.’
Clara and Jason meet with a group of parents who have all lost a child, as they talk about their loss.
The couple now campaign for better awareness of recognising the signs of sepsis.
Jason and jewellery and fashion designer Clara tied the knot back in 2014. As well as their late daughter Maude, they also share daughter Bessie and son Gilbert.
Jason was previously married to actress Caroline Harding and they share two older children – Freddie and Pip.
If you need further support or information about bereavement and grief, mental health charity Mind can be contacted via 0300 123 3393.
What are the key symptoms of sepsis? The ‘silent killer’ that can cause death in minutes
Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, strikes when an infection such as blood poisoning sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs.
It is a potentially life-threatening condition, triggered by an infection or injury. Around 245,000 people develop sepsis in the UK each year and 52,000 die, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.
Instead of attacking the invading bug, the body turns on itself, shutting down vital organs.
If caught early enough, it’s easily treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids, but these must be given as soon as sepsis is suspected – it strikes with frightening speed and, for every hour of delay, a patient’s chance of dying increases 8 per cent.
Sepsis is a leading cause of avoidable death killing 44,000 people each year
The early symptoms of sepsis can be easily confused with more mild conditions, meaning it can be difficult to diagnose.
A high temperature (fever), chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat and rapid breathing are also indicators.
A patient can rapidly deteriorate if sepsis is missed early on, so quick diagnosis and treatment is vital – yet this rarely happens.
In the early stages, sepsis can be mistaken for a chest infection, flu or upset stomach.
It is most common and dangerous in older adults, pregnant women, children younger than one, people with chronic conditions or those who have weakened immune systems.
The six signs of something potentially deadly can be identified by the acronym ‘SEPSIS’:
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine in a day
- Severe breathlessness
- Skin that’s mottled or discoloured
Anyone who develops any of these symptoms should seek medical help urgently — and ask doctors: ‘Could this be sepsis?’