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.
After over a year of Zoom support, some of our groups are returning to face-to-face meetings and we’re so looking forward to seeing our bereaved families – both new and old members.
We’ll be starting with our Wednesday North London bereaved parent support group that will return to its first face-to-face meeting on Wednesday 19th May 2021. These groups will run socially distanced and super safely, following all the current government guidelines. All face-to-face group participants will be advised ahead of the meetings the guidelines that they will need to follow including track and trace etc.
Our next SLOWsibs workshop for children aged 6-15 years, on 10th July will also run in person – we’re so looking forward to seeing our amazing sibs there.
Naturally if you have any COVID symptoms please do not attend the face-to-face groups. For symptoms of COVID check here
Still apprehensive about face to face?
We know that some of you are apprehensive about returning in person to groups, so going forward SLOW will run a regular Zoom weekly daytime group and a Zoom monthly evening bereaved parents group too.
Our weekly Zoom meeting for bereaved parents launches Monday 17th May 2021 with our lovely bereaved parent facilitators – Erica and Susie.
Our SLOWsibs 18+ meetings for bereaved adult siblings will remain running via Zoom, every other month.
Please see our calendar for all the dates of our forthcoming meetings and if you are new to SLOW and need support please do get in contact with us via the contact form page.
The Good Grief Festival is a free three day online event with lots of interesting and inspiring speakers and sessions. Check it out at Good Grief Fest
Bereaved parent Gill Mann will be speaking. Her beautiful book about her son, Sam’s story “A Song Inside” will move and resonate in every bereaved parents heart and will soon be available in SLOW’s libraries for the day that we are able to resume face to face working.
Currently we are running all groups via Zoom, please do get in touch if you would like to come to one of our groups, you will find a warm online community who will welcome you. For details of our forthcoming support group dates click here.
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”