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'The World Changes Forever'

'The World Changes Forever'

Friday October 15

In Baby Loss Awareness Week, Jackie Macadam speaks to a health chaplain about his role in helping bereaved parents.


“From the moment a baby dies, the world changes forever. There are no simple answers to grief; it is a journey to a new way of living, and the ways people find to look after their well-being will be different for everyone. Grief is a personal and unique emotion and so are the ways that people find to cope with it.”Clea Harmer, Chief executive of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death) and Chair of The Baby Loss Awareness Alliance at this week’s launch of the baby loss awareness week campaign.

 

More than 100 charities have joined together this week to highlight hope people affected by pregnancy baby loss and find ways to cope build a life around their grief.

Mark Evans DCS, head of Fife’s Spiritual Care team, says care for the bereaved family is part of a hospital chaplain’s duties.

“There is a Healthcare Chaplain on call 24/7, 365 days a year,” he said. “When a woman experiences a pregnancy loss, staff within maternity will offer support from the Duty Chaplain. At a time of loss many people, regardless of their belief or faith, find the Healthcare Chaplain a source of help and support.”

Mark continues: “The main thing the Healthcare Chaplains do is to simply be present; to listen to the parents and let them speak about their baby in whatever way parents find most supportive. For it is not just the loss of the baby which parents experience – but also the loss of their hopes and dreams. A time of expectation and joy filled with laughter and plans for the future has suddenly turned into a nightmare of tears and grief – tears well up from deep inside and often feel they will never stop flowing.”

Statistics gathered by Sands indicate that 14 babies are either stillborn or die in the first few weeks of life every day in the UK. Around one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

“Chaplains frequently work with the parents to consider and construct their own act of affirmation and remembrance and will conduct a religious blessing or a naming ceremony,” said Mark.

“Healthcare Chaplains can also give support and advice in relation to planning the baby’s funeral and supporting the parents to think through all the various choices before them. Our role is concerned with ‘hearing people's stories’, sharing with them their hopes and dreams, fears and concerns, their laughter and their pain; and to simply hold the space and to affirm that the pain and the heartache is normal but also that love is eternal.

“We frequently work with the parents to consider and construct their own act of affirmation and remembrance and will conduct a religious blessing or a naming ceremony.

“We can also give support and advice in relation to planning the baby’s funeral and supporting the parents to think through all the various choices before them.”

One sometimes overlooked mourner is the dad. Mark is very conscious that sometimes, with a lot of attention, medical and emotional, on mum, the father can feel a little isolated in his grief.

“It’s easy to forget or overlook a father’s need – and often dads will overlook or ignore their own needs as they try to support their partner following a baby loss. I often speak about how the baby was carried in the mother’s womb and the daddy’s heart. It’s also about asking the honest and open questions such as 'how are you doing?'

“So it’s important during the blessing or naming ceremony and at the subsequent funeral that the dad's grief is acknowledged and recognised.  It is crucial that the connection between the parents and their child is recognised and that such a relationship will remain no matter what and extends beyond death.”


For more information, advice and support:
Baby Loss Awareness Week
Sands