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


‘His friends had to say goodbye’: Children’s author Michael Rosen reveals why he brought home the body of his late son, 18, from the morgue

  • Children’s author Michael Rosen, 75, lost his son Eddie, 18, to meningitis in 1999
  • He Found His Son ‘Cold’ In Bed After He Had Flu-Like Symptoms
  • Rosen and Eddie’s mom decided to give it out so friends could pay tribute

Michael Rosen, the author of the children’s books, has revealed that he brought his dead son home from the morgue so his friends could say goodbye.

The former children’s laureate, 75, who nearly lost his own life to Covid last year, said people “came from everywhere” to see Eddie, who died of meningitis in April 1999 at age 18.

He believes it was the first experience of the death of his young friends.

Rosen found his second son “cold” in bed after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

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

Eddie's tragic death from meningitis was the inspiration for Rosen's 2004 story of grief, Sad Book.

Eddie’s tragic death from meningitis was the inspiration for Rosen’s 2004 grief story, Sad Book.

“Then we did something very strange – part of it was his mother who suggested it,” Rosen told the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

“After he was in the morgue, we took him back home. We did that old thing to put someone in the house and people came from all over to see him.

“There’s a whole generation of his friends, and they were young, who came to the house and it might be the only dead person they’d ever seen.”

Rosen, who has rarely spoken publicly about the loss of his son, added: “Being in the presence of a corpse changes the way you think about death… we slowly get over it.” consciously.

“When it’s fully medicalized, people just disappear, which isn’t much different than seeing them go on holiday to France.

“We have to say, culturally, if we send people to the hospital and say goodbye to them and don’t see them again, it’s a very cordon sanitaire around death.”

Rosen had Eddie with his first wife Elizabeth Steele. His death inspired Rosen in 2004 on grief, Sad Book.

The father of five, who also wrote We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, spent 40 days in a coma 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 had to learn to walk again.

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

He wrote, “Every time I think about it, I struggle to take it in. I wonder, who were they?’

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


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

Anyone can be affected, but high-risk groups are under the age of five, ages 15 to 24, and over 45 years of age.

People exposed to secondhand smoke or with a suppressed immune system, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, are also more at risk.

The most common forms of meningitis are bacterial and viral.

Symptoms for both include:

  • Pale, blotchy skin with a rash that doesn’t fade when squeezed with a glass
  • Stiff neck
  • Don’t like bright lights
  • Fever and cold hands and feet
  • Vomit
  • drowsiness
  • Severe headache
Headache is one of the main symptoms

Headache is one of the main symptoms

bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis requires urgent hospital treatment with antibiotics.

About 10 percent of bacterial cases are fatal.

Of those who survive, one in three will develop complications, including brain damage and hearing loss.

Amputation of limbs is a possible side effect if septicemia (septicemia) occurs.

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

viral meningitis

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 every year.

Treatment focuses on hydration, pain relievers and rest.

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

Source: Meningitis Now



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