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Abigail's Journal

"Abigail's Journal" is a series of letters from a mother trying to understand the grief and trauma ignited by a terminal cancer diagnosis for her son.


On 1st April, 2011, a little boy named Charlie Waller, two-year-old son of John and Abigail Waller (née Graham-Yooll) was diagnosed with one of life's cruellest diseases - a brain cancer known as “diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma” or "DIPG”.  


DIPG is a high grade brain tumour found in the middle of the brain stem, and a diagnosis comes with no promise of a cure - 90% of patients with DIPG will die within two years of diagnosis. Friends and family rallied in the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis, and soon Abby and John were able to establish a new charity, the Art for Charlie Foundation, in the hope of seeing something good and positive emerge from their own tragedy. The Foundation raised funds from the sale and promotion of art, and was able to provide small grants to families experiencing financial need in the wake of their child's illness or death, or fill gaps in the availability of pediatric hospice care. 


Sadly, Charlie passed away, in his mother's arms on 5th December 2013. He was five years old.


Charlie's memory lives on in those who knew and loved him, and a legacy remains in the foundation of the Children's Palliative Care Coalition of Michigan, which his grandfather, Richard Graham-Yooll, helped establish from the work of the Art for Charlie Foundation.

To help herself and others to understand what she and her family were going through, Abigail recorded her experience of grief by way of imaginary letters to her son, Charlie. Her letters provide a brave and heart-breaking - though also heart-warming - insight into a mother's love and the enduring pain that comes with it when her child's life cut cruelly short.

Abigail's letters can be found on the links below.

Abigail's Journal - all entries


Individual entries:

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