Tsunami survivor: ‘I’d give anything to swap places with my boys’

In December 2004, the world watched in horror as a deadly tsunami tore across South East Asia, killing almost 250,000 people.

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by Emily Cope |
Published on

On Boxing Day, December 2004, the UK woke up to the tragic news that a deadly tsunami had torn across South East Asia, killing almost 250,000 people.

As towering waves ripped apart hotels and houses, thousands were left homeless and searching for their loved ones.

Sharon Howard was on holiday in Thailand with her family when the tsunami hit.

Tragically, she lost her fiancé David – who'd proposed just 24 hours earlier – and two young sons Taylor, six, and Mason, eight, from a previous relationship.

A decade on from the horrific event, Sharon, 47, is still struggling to cope with her grief and has battled alcohol addiction and depression.


With fiance David and the boys in Thailand days before the tragedy hit

Sharon, from Cornwall – who's going back to Thailand this Christmas for a 10-year memorial – says: “Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, but every year I dread Boxing Day. Losing my boys and fiancé has been too much to bear.

"For several years afterwards I went back to Thailand.

“I’d lay flowers at the site of the hotel, and walk around the grounds to feel close to them.

“Every day I feel guilty I survived when my sons and fiancé have died. I’d give anything to swap places with them.

“My house is like a shrine to my boys. I have their ashes in my wardrobe and their washing under my bed. It doesn't smell of them any more, but it's part of them.

“I’ve battled with depression and alcohol addiction. The only thing that’s kept me going is my oldest son Jack, from a previous relationship. I’m so grateful he wasn’t there that day, without him I don’t think I’d have coped.”

You can read more of Sharon's story in this week's Closer.

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