Patron and facilitator, Clara Francis, shares her heartbreaking story

Patron and facilitator, Clara Francis, shares her heartbreaking story

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.

Maude, the daughter of Jason Watkins and Clara Francis

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.

 

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Grieving your child on Father’s day – Rob Delaney talks about his grief

Grieving your child on Father’s day – Rob Delaney talks about his grief

Father’s Day is one of the many days that the loss of a child feels even more profound.  Although as bereaved parents are keenly aware, a child’s absence is felt every day.

There isn’t a day that goes by that we do not think about our absent child. Regardless of the circumstance of their deaths, we miss them deeply.

In this podcast father, Rob Delaney, talks about losing his son Henry and his ensuing grief.   Like so many other bereaved parents he knows that there’s no getting over the loss of a child, it’s just a case of feeling the full force of the pain and getting through it:

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge it’s going to be a real nightmare for a good long while, and you’re going to cry, and you’ll probably puke sometimes. And I know that’s not the sun will come out and everything’s going to be fine.”

And what has worked for Rob has been speaking to other bereaved parents:

“The most helpful thing for me has been other bereaved parents. Because when you come together, more useful than any of the words that anyone said to me would be if I saw a parent whose child had been dead longer than mine had, and I saw that they were able to tie their shoes. Was their shirt tucked in? Basic functions– just watching them pick grapes off of a stem and eat them. And I thought if they can do that, then I’ll be able to do that one day, hopefully.”

Be kind to yourself on Father’s Day and if you need support the SLOW support groups are open to all that have lost a child and parents can come at any time after the death of their child.  For times and dates of forthcoming SLOW support groups link here.

 

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Grieving your child on Fathers’ Day – article from What’s Your Grief

Grieving your child on Fathers’ Day – article from What’s Your Grief

Father’s Day is one of the many days that the loss of a child feels even more profound. Although as bereaved parents are keenly aware, a child’s absence is felt every day.

The amazing blog ‘What’s your grief? asked fathers to share their Father’s Day grief and their responses will resonate with bereaved dads at SLOW and beyond.

Here’s the full article and a selection of their responses:

You will always have that open space in your soul, for that’s where you store the memories.

 

You will never truly be done grieving; you will learn to live and cope.

 

There will come a day when you will look back and see the goods before the bads.

 

I am an amputee, a father without a son.  THAT is my new normal.

 

I may look the same as before Kylie died but I’m a different man altogether.

 

The weight of loss never goes away, we just learn to carry it.

And for the non-bereaved, how should you acknowledge Father’s Day?  Our advice from SLOW is if you know a grieving dad, pay them a visit or make that phone call to tell them that you are thinking about them and their child.

Be kind to yourself on Father’s Day and if you need support the SLOW support groups are open to all that have lost a child and parents can come at any time after the death of their child.  For times and dates of forthcoming SLOW support groups link here.

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How to be kind to yourself when grieving

How to be kind to yourself when grieving

One of the best pieces of advice I received from the SLOW group when I was in the deep, dark, depths of grief after my daughter died was… to be kind to myself.   For me, being told that it was ok not to be at the coalface of grief all the time was really helpful.   Grieving a lost child is hard, hard work so giving yourself a few minutes of respite from the pain is sometimes the only way to get through a day.  And… the grief was always there again at the end of my distracting task…

This article from the fantastic blog ‘What’s Your Grief?’ gives seven helpful tips on how to practice self-kindness.  Here’s some snippets:-

 

1. Don’t compare

Try not to compare yourself to your expectations. In fact, it can be helpful to let go of your expectations about grief entirely. 

2. Accept that a wide range of emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences are normal in grief

Having a narrow conceptualization of what is normal in grief often causes people to feel like they’re not doing as well as they ought to or, worse, like they’re completely losing it.  

3. Give distressing emotions and experiences the time and attention they need

The only thing that would help is to acknowledge the pain and find ways to take care of yourself and heal. 

4.  Ask for help

You’ve experienced a major hardship and now is the time for you to let others take care of you. 

5. Focus on basic needs

If you are able to meet some of your most basic needs, you’ll be in a better position physically and emotionally to deal with your other more complex and nuanced stressors.

6. Give yourself a break

While many people think coping with life after loss is only about confronting and coping with difficult grief emotions, we believe that coping encapsulates anything that helps you feel better and gives you a boost of positive emotion

7. Love the person who died unapologetically

What we know about grief is that an ongoing love and attachment is totally normal! So, go ahead and talk about your loved one as much as you want, do all the little things that keep you close, and, by all means, love them apologetically.

The SLOW support groups give our bereaved parents a chance to talk to other parents that have been through the devastating loss of a child.  The groups are open to all that have lost a child and parents can come at any time after the death of their child.  For times and dates of forthcoming SLOW support groups link here.

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SLOW member Rob Delaney talks to Russell Howard about grief and his beautiful Henry

SLOW member Rob Delaney talks to Russell Howard about grief and his beautiful Henry

The lovely Rob Delaney was interviewed by Russell Howard about his grief and his beautiful memories of Henry as he approaches his one-year anniversary.

Rob talks about how bereavement groups can support parents that have lost a child and how it’s helpful to meet bereaved parents that are ‘further on’ in their grief:

I galloped to the first bereaved parents meeting, let me fill my emotions with people who are judging and who know what it’s like….I talk to other parents who’ve lost kids and they say that as time goes on, and it can take a lot of time, that what happens when they think about their child that died, the first thing they feel is really happy.

And he gives advice to the non-bereaved…. What should someone say to a bereaved parent?

At SLOW we know this is a minefield for the non-bereaved but in our experience we find that, more than anything, bereaved parents want to desperately talk about their son or daughter that died:-

What I would say to someone in that situation is, and it’s not one size fits all.  If you know somebody who’s lost a big one, like a sibling, a child, a spouse or something.  They’re, you’re thinking about that person, I’m thinking about Henry… so if you colme up to me and say “Hey I heard it’s about a year since your son passed away’.  You didn’t bring him up, I was already thinking aobut him and you allowed me to talk about him and think about him and that to me is such a pleasure.  I’m not tying to put a verbal band aid on anyone’s grief so you can also try and relax because there is nothing you can say that will fix it but you should acknowledge it.

Which reminds me of my all-time favourite grief quote from Elizabeth Edwards:

Rob summed up his grief by talking about how love and grief are intertwined:-

The reason it hurts so much is because of how much I love him.  Grief and love are really weaved together.  So, I should be sad right now.

At SLOW we provide a safe space to share and talk to other bereaved parents about the pain of losing a child.  All bereaved parents are welcome, at any time after the death of their child.  All our groups are facilitated by bereaved parents.

For more information on our forthcoming groups click here.

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