Children’s book author Michael Rosen explains why he brought his 18-year-old son’s body home from the morgue

‘Friends had to say goodbye’: Children’s writer Michael Rosen explains why he brought the body of his dead 18-year-old son home from the morgue

  • 75-year-old children’s book author Michael Rosen lost his 18-year-old son, Eddie, to meningitis in 1999.
  • Finds son ‘cold’ in bed after suffering flu-like symptoms
  • Rosen and Eddie’s mother decided to get her out of the house so her friends could show respect.


Children’s writer Michael Rosen announced that he brought his deceased son home from the morgue to say goodbye to his friends.

The 75-year-old former laureate, who came close to dying of his own life from Covid last year, said that ‘people came from all over’ to see Eddie, who died of meningitis at the age of 18 in April 1999.

He believes this is his young friend’s first death experience.

Rosen found her second son ‘cold’ in bed after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Writer Michael Rosen described the pain of losing his 18-year-old son Eddie in 1999.

Writer Michael Rosen described the pain of losing his 18-year-old son Eddie in 1999.

Eddie's tragic death from meningitis inspired Rosen's 2004 story about grief, The Sad Book.

Eddie’s tragic death from meningitis inspired Rosen’s 2004 story about grief, The Sad Book.

“Then we did something pretty weird – partly because her mother suggested it,” Rosen told the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

We brought him back home after he was in the morgue. We did the old thing like putting someone in the house and people from all over came to see him.

‘They have a whole generation of friends and they were young, they came home and maybe he was the only dead person they saw.’

Rarely speaking about losing her son, Rosen said, “If you’re dealing with a corpse, it changes the way you think about death…we gradually become aware of it.

‘If it goes completely medical, people disappear, which is not much different from seeing them go on vacation to France.

‘We have to say culturally that if we send people to the hospital and say goodbye to them and never see them again, it’s going to be a lot of ‘cord cleaning’ around death.’

Rosen spent Eddie with his first wife, Elizabeth Steele. His death inspired Rosen’s story about grief in 2004, The Sad Book.

The father of five, who also wrote We Are Going Bear Hunt, was in a coma for 40 days last year after contracting Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic.

Rosen's classic story 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' was adapted into a popular animation in 2016 with Olivia Colman and Mark Williams.

Rosen’s classic story ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ was adapted into a popular animation in 2016 with Olivia Colman and Mark Williams.

He was told he had a 50:50 chance of survival, and when he woke up he would have to learn to walk again.

Writing in the Daily Mail this year to support our campaign for a national memorial service for Covid victims, Rosen described how 42 percent of the patients on his ward died.

He wrote: ‘Every time I think of it, I have trouble understanding it. Who were they?’

Her latest book, Many Different Kinds Of Love, contains diary entries written by her nurses during her hospital stay.

WHAT IS MENINGITIS?

Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Anyone can be affected, but those at risk include those under five, 15-24, and over 45.

People who are exposed to secondhand smoke or whose immune system is suppressed, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, are also at greater risk.

The most common forms of meningitis are bacterial and viral.

Symptoms for both include:

  • Pale, blotchy skin with a rash that does not fade when squeezed with a glass
  • Neck Stuck
  • dislike bright lights
  • Fever and cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • numbness
  • Severe headache
Headache is one of the main symptoms

Headache is one of the main symptoms

bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis requires immediate hospital treatment with antibiotics.

About 10 percent of bacterial cases are fatal.

A third of survivors suffer from complications, including brain damage and hearing loss.

Limb amputation is a potential side effect if septicemia (blood poisoning) occurs.

Vaccines are available against certain types of bacteria that cause meningitis, such as tuberculosis.

viral meningitis

The viral is rarely life-threatening, but can cause long-term effects such as headaches, fatigue, and memory problems.

Thousands of people in the UK suffer from viral meningitis each year.

Treatment focuses on hydration, pain relievers, and rest.

Although not effective, antibiotics can be given when patients arrive at the hospital if they are suffering from the bacterial form of the disease.

Source: Meningitis Now

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