Please join us tonight at 7pm by lighting a candle in memory of all the babies and children who were lost too soon and, as baby loss awareness week culminates today, we wanted to share a beautifully written article by our patron and group facilitator, Clara Francis.
Clara describes her daughter’s tragic story, the deep sadness she felt in the aftermath of Maude’s death and how she was helped by SLOW.
I felt a deep compulsion to speak to other bereaved parents – but I didn’t know any. The logic behind this impulse was probably that I needed to speak to people who were further down the line, to prove it was possible to live a life afterwards. I found a local parent bereavement group called SLOW which was set up and run by two bereaved parents. They meet once a week sitting together, eating cake, drinking tea and sharing stories. Knowing there was one place I could go every share my darkest thoughts was integral to my healing.
Clara explains how working for SLOW has kept her both connected with Maude and has allowed her to give back to the charity and community that helped her navigate the pain of losing a child:
A couple of years ago, I trained as a group facilitator for SLOW. I now work for them part-time running my own group for bereaved parents. I also volunteer for the Child Death Helpline at Great Ormond Street Hospital, offering hope to other bereaved parents who may be in the same turmoil I was. I do all of it for Maudie and find it a very powerful way of staying connected to her. It’s turned her death into something positive.
If you are a bereaved parent, please do get in contact if you need support. We offer both face to face support groups in London and virtual meetings for UK bereaved parents. All our groups are facilitated by trained, expert bereaved parents like Clara. Click here for dates of all our forthcoming groups.
As baby loss awareness week approaches for another year (9th – 15th October), it seemed a pertinent time to introduce myself. I’ve recently joined the team at SLOW as the Bereavement Support Services Manager and as with all members of our team, I’m part of a gang that no parent ever, ever wants to join – the gang where a child of ours has died.
My daughter Rosie was just 6 days old when my husband and I had to say goodbye. Never did I think my first cuddle with my newborn baby would be the last. I still remember it like it was yesterday, it was May 2006. Rosie was perfect in every way, she wasn’t much bigger than a barbie doll, she only weighed 585g (a bag of sugar to most people). I went in to very premature labour at 23 weeks and 3 days (full term is 40 weeks), I was told during my labour that she may not survive the birth. It was painful in so many ways. Rosie was born showing signs of life (at 23 weeks and 3 days, medical teams will only intervene if there are signs of life), she was born at a hospital that didn’t have the specialist care that such a premature baby needed. She was immediately taken from me and whisked to the scbu (special care baby unit) where she was worked on until she was stable enough to be transferred 1/2 hour down the A22 to the Trevor Mann baby unit in Brighton.
It felt surreal that only a few hours after giving birth I was in the car with my husband driving to another hospital without my baby with us.
We were told the severity of her health and her chances of survival were incredibly slim but we had hope, it’s all we had as well as an incredibly amazing and supportive neonatal care team looking after her – so much so she was nearly named Beata after the lead consultant who cared for her.
Sadly, Rosie was too little and too poorly to survive. She did give us hope for 6 days and she showed us how easy it is to love but also how precious life is. She was taken far too soon from us. Rosie now has two younger sisters who are 12 & 10 and a little brother who is just 7 weeks old at the time of writing. Rosie remains a big part of our lives and she is the reason I do the work I do today. We celebrate her birthday every year on the 26th April and we light a candle (#waveoflight) for her every year during baby loss awareness week.
I’m thankful for baby loss awareness week as it raises awareness of pregnancy and babyloss as well as driving improvements in policy, bereavement care and support for anyone affected by the death of a baby.
If you are a bereaved parent, please reach out to us at SLOW, we offer support sessions for bereaved parents of any aged child which are led by bereaved parents both in person and virtually via zoom.
Click here for dates of all our forthcoming groups.
Sending love and light to anyone that’s been affected by the loss of a child.