The spring blossom is out – in a time when the world seems hardly recognisable with the gradual realisation of what the covid-19 could means.
Speaking with SLOW bereaved parents this week, online / on the phone, so many report feeling that the fear, shock, surreality and uncertainty that the world is now feeling is strangely familiar with their experience of grief. As every parent whose child has died knows, waking up and feeling that weight of dread, knowing there is something deeply wrong, and out of order with the world, is somehow now felt all around us in others, mirroring so much of what we know on the inside.
Some parents expressed feeling congruent with the world out there instead of isolated.
Others expressed feeling their trauma re-triggered and more isolated.
Some felt the current covid-19 crisis had completely eclipsed their own grief .
All felt they wanted to connect with each other even more, that ‘grief feels so much like fear ‘ (CS Lewis) and the fear in the nation feels so much like the grief .
So – what I’ve heard in SLOW this week has been sobering and strangely hopeful. Hopeful in that the desire to connect with others, is to be part of the human race. The sense of time being divided between ‘before’ and ‘after’ is something that bereaved parents know in their very bones, and instantly, when their child dies. In this pandemic, the drive to belong, connect, reach out and help others has been the driving force even in seeming helplessness. Something that has been the hallmark of the SLOW community since we began in 2007.
“You can cut down all the flowers but you can never stop the Spring from arriving” Pablo Neruda”
Thanks to all 💜
On the 15th June 2019 SLOW held a special sibling workshop at the Ecology Centre, in the heart of the wildlife reserve in Gillespie Park, Islington.
The workshop was generously gifted to SLOW by the amazing Cloud Workshop New Zealand who have been running creative art workshops with bereaved children since 2008. This workshop was also supported by the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust.
The workshop was led by Cloud Workshop with the theme of ‘Peg Guardians’. Cloud Workshop has a long tradition of making talismans to ward away sadness and strengthen us. The peg guardians were inspired by Guatemalan Worry Dolls and Depression era toys that were made from everyday objects such as pegs and wooden spoons. The peg guardians have had to work hard over the years – helping to keep bad dreams away, reminding us of someone we are missing, comforting their spirit, comforting our own spirit, trying to provide strength against bullies (and encouraging talk with adults about this). After an introduction from Deb, the children brainstormed on the qualities they wished their guardians to portray and then created their figures with flat pegs, fabrics, papers, felt, decorations and character faces.
Children took part in a ‘show and tell’ at the end of the workshop describing their work to other children, team members and parents. The combined volunteers from SLOW and Cloud Workshop worked very hard throughout the afternoon to create a very successful and activity packed workshop.
Some information about SLOWsibs
SLOW runs creative workshops for bereaved children that have lost a brother or sister so they can meet each other with the aim of reducing isolation, building resilience and confidence and making new friends. We provide a safe space to explore feelings and develop their creative skills.
SLOWsibs meets quarterly and previous workshops have included cupcake decoration, miniature worlds, gardening, marbling, decoupage and Christmas wreath making. Children aged 6 years to 15 years are invited to attend the groups.
Take a look at our picture gallery here to see some of the wonderful and creative work from our SLOWsibs.
Since the death of Naomi Grace 13 years ago, I’ve read a lot of the grief literature and heard lots about ‘letting go’.
I’ve come to learn that ‘holding on’ and ‘letting go’ is not a goal to strive for, not an aim for grieving to ‘resolve’ or ‘gain closure’.
Letting go and holding on is simply a dynamic flux, a relationship of loving and grieving. As natural as breathing in and out.
The thought of ‘letting go’ of our child is abhorrent to bereaved parents. So, for me it’s about holding on closely to what needs to be held onto and at the same time loosening the grip of fear, to breathe in the love that brings her more fully into my heart. I now accept this is the life-long rhythm of grief and love.
My arms no longer ache like those first hours, but they are still empty – I am a mother without a baby
BBC Journalist Fiona Crack became pregnant last year with a much – longed for baby girl, but her waters broke early and her beautiful baby girl, named Willow, died. This is her story of a year of grief and healing, and the stories of 5 extraordinary women who shared her experience and all went on to channel their grief into futures that bear the legacy of their child.
In this moving article, Fiona describes her ordeal and the grief that followed:-
Grief folded and stretched time. ..One day we travelled to a register office and an official asked quiet sad questions. We left holding legal proof she was here, she was real. Birth and death shared the paper, the only document she will ever have.
She describes her coping mechanisms, so recognisable to many of us who have suffered the death of a child:-
My coping mechanisms are all about doing stuff and so I planned a part of our garden to dedicate to Willow, buying graph paper and poring over garden design books. We started landscaping in the coldest wettest week in February. We hired a 1.5 tonne digger. Friends and family came to help us in snow and frost, in driving rain.
After being given a memory box in which to place special things to remember Willow, Fiona set out on a journey to meet other mothers who had experienced such a loss as her and the stories of five remarkable women are here. They are:
Val runs the Tigerlily Trust, which provides hospitals with blankets, wraps and gowns for stillborn babies
Rachel runs Gifts of Remembrance, which trains midwives to take photos of stillborn babies
Ruth retrained as a midwife after the stillbirth of her daughter Scarlett. She has just started her first posting, having qualified this summer.
Aliyah Publishing graduate makes bespoke wall prints through her online shop, which help parents celebrate their baby’s name and birth date and is working on a bespoke memory book.
Megan began a popular vlog about stillbirth just weeks after the death of her son Milo
My advice to other parents going through this is let yourself grieve hard. Don’t be afraid of your grief – share it with people. That’s almost precious time before the world sort of expects you to be OK. Let yourself have that time.
To read the full article please click here
SLOW support groups are here for bereaved parents weeks, months or even years after the death of a child. And I know personally for me that in the early days it was so important to understand from others further along how the grief for a lost child evolved.
For more information on our forthcoming groups click here