Each year 9-15 October is Baby Loss Awareness Week. Throughout the week bereaved parents, their families and friends, unite with each other and others across the world to commemorate their babies’ lives.
Babyloss Awareness Week is led by Sands in collaboration with over 40 charities in the UK to raise awareness about the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. This year they are calling for improved bereavement support for families affected by baby and pregnancy loss.
Better Bereavement Care: “It is vital that good bereavement care is offered to anyone who has lost a baby before, during or after birth.
However, the standard of care in the UK varies widely between regions. Bereavement care training is mandatory in under half of NHS Trusts and Health Boards. At the last count, one in three Trusts and Health Boards did not have a dedicated bereavement room in each maternity unit they cover.
As a result, many parents do not receive good quality, or indeed not any, bereavement support around pregnancy or baby loss. The quality and consistency of care can vary depending on the circumstances of baby loss, where parents live, and even on who may be on shift that day.
Together with the other charities participating in Baby Loss Awareness Week, Sands believes that there should be high quality bereavement support services and care available for people wherever they live in the UK. Everyone should have the chance to have the support they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.”
I am very open about my experience of babyloss – ten years ago my son died when he was three days old. He was my third child and he was born with a severe heart defect which needed surgery. He died during heart surgery.
The last ten years have been a huge journey of acceptance and recovery, of shock, depression and anxiety, of good therapy, finding the right support and of living a new normal. Recovery hasn’t been about getting over it and feeling better, it has been about living and functioning with a broken heart, a grief so raw that it feels painful – physically and emotionally – and, at times, unbearable.
Living with grief has been about riding throughout it – enjoying the great moments and days and feeling ‘normal’ and weathering the storm when it gets bad, feeling safe, letting the tears fall, remembering him and thinking about what life could have been like with him in it.
Grief is different for everyone, we all cope with our losses differently. I am grateful for the care I received after Jamie died – it was gentle and supportive, the care we received made it easier for us to spend time with him and I strongly believe that it made it easier for us to grieve.
It wasn’t that long ago that babies were whisked away from their parents – so as not to prolong the pain – and they were encouraged to move on, to never mention their baby, their loss or their pain for fear of upsetting themselves or others. But parents need to spend time with their babies after they have died – to cuddle to touch, to smell, to make memories that will last for a lifetime. For many of us, having this time means they were here and this is the only chance we have to spend some time with our baby.
From those early days, my overwhelming memories are of kindness, of caring, of love and support – losing a baby is devastating, confusing and painful and every grieving parent needs to be treated with respect and compassion.
For more information you can contact Sands.