This is the heartbreaking moment two terminally ill parents held hands as they said goodbye to each other for a final time.
The pair have bravely faced death together after an unthinkable double terminal cancer diagnosis.
The photo has been shared by the children of Mike, 57, and Julie Bennet – taken just days before the much loved dad-of-three died and published as the children’s mother lays dying in a Merseyside hospice herself.
They wanted the world to know how much they loved each other – and were together until the very end.
The brave couple’s friends have made a promise to Julie, 50, on her death bed to take care of her children – and are appealing for the public to help them stay in the family home as they face a future without both their parents.
Friend Sue Wright, who visited Julie this week, said: “I told her the community would come together to help look after her kids – and she opened her eyes and smiled.”
Sue has joined others to campaign and raise money for the couple’s three children – Oliver, 13, Hannah, 18, and Luke, 21 – and support them so they can stay in the family home.
They have made a heartbreaking plea for help as the siblings face the loss of both parents in the tragedy which saw both cruelly diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Family friend, Heather Heaton Gallagher, a spokesperson for the children, said: “Words cannot express our desperate sadness for such a beautiful family.
“The Bennets are known to all for their generosity, their love for life, and their down to earth approach.
“Julie has kept the children in a normal routine whilst dealing with Mike’s illness over the past few years.
“When Julie became ill, she made it her purpose to create as many memories as a family for the children to hold onto.”
And she added: “Facing a double terminal cancer diagnosis is beyond belief and, as a community, we are working hard to support the family so that they can stay together and ensure that they can continue their education as planned.”
As they cope with the loss of their father and prepare to say goodbye to their mum in St John’s Hospice, Wirral, the young Bennet family from Irby shared a photo of their parents’ touching last moments together and revealed the tragedy which has shattered their family.
Dad Mike had been fighting a battle with cancer since 2013 – having been diagnosed with a brain tumour – and had been nursed at home by Julie and the children.
The 57-year-old was a self-employed cabinet maker who had served his apprenticeship with Baldock’s Furniture Makers in Liverpool.
Mum Julie, 50, a primary school teacher at Somerville School, Wallasey, was diagnosed with cancer in May 2016.
It began in her breast but spread to other organs in her body including her liver and kidneys.
In the heartbreaking image shared by the children, Julie clings to her dying husband Mike’s hand, as she says goodbye to him.
Mike died last Monday, February 6, surrounded by Julie and their children.
Now they are continuing to support their mum – and preparing to face the future without them both.
As well as emotional heartache and grief, there are practical issues the family has to face.
Heather explained: “The biggest challenge is that the family car, a Motability car, has to be returned, meaning that the kids can’t get around to manage practical and personal activities.
“Julie and Mike have been the most supportive parents, encouraging their children’s interest in dance and acting from a very early age.
“All three children thrive on the stage and I know that Julie and Mike would not want this to stop their children from dancing and performing.
“To help them do this, we need to make them mobile again and help cover the costs that this brings.”
And she continued: “We have set up a just giving page and overnight that reached an incredible £15,000, but these three kids need to have a future.
“Luke is studying with the Liverpool Theatre School and Hannah is a talented student with Elliot Clarke, Oliver is at high school.
“They have no nearby family in Wirral. Their home was adapted to make things accessible and easier for the family to nurse Mike at home.
“There is a really amazing group of people who have come together to make a real impact on this young family’s life, so that they can have a future together in their family home.
“We are setting up a trust for them with the support of a local solicitor’s and we have offers of help with the funeral costs from a charity in Manchester. But any help for this wonderful family will make a real difference to their lives.”
Eldest son Luke said: “My brother, sister and I are overwhelmed by the enormous support and generosity we have received from so many friends and well-wishers, and it gives my mum a great deal of comfort to hear that we are being so well looked after by the community.
“I know it has been her priority since being diagnosed to make sure that the three of us can continue as best we can with our studies and fulfill our ambitions.
“Mum has appreciated all the help from close friends in supporting the family over the last three years through difficult times and it would be a huge relief to her to know this support will continue when she can’t be with us anymore.”
Anyone who wants to support the family with raffle prizes for fundraiser events or to help in the campaign please contact Sue Wright on 07471030500 and go to JustGiving .