baby loss awareness week in Exeter
One of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do as a family was to say goodbye to our unborn son – Rudi – at twenty-one weeks. It was hard for a multitude of reasons: because we never got to meet him and love him out in the world; because babies aren’t supposed to die in the second trimester; because he was physically part of us. What made all this harder still was that – despite being born alive – because of his age, he wouldn’t have existed in the eyes of the law if we hadn’t had made sure he did.
One of the hardest things of all is that you can’t really talk about baby loss openly, for fear of making people feel uncomfortable or of triggering someone else’s experience. For that reason, I’m sorry if this upsets any readers. I wish no-one else ever had to experience what we went through.
What I learnt on our journey is that losing a baby during pregnancy is something that happens a lot (According to SANDS, 15 babies a day are stillborn or die within 4 weeks of birth in the UK) which means there are many other parents who carry the loss of a baby, even if they don’t speak about it. When we lost Rudi we had messages from friends and family who experienced their own loss that we never knew about. But the act of sharing their stories helped to keep us sane.
The 9th to the 15th of October is Baby Loss Awareness week, led by SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) in association with forty other charities. It’s a chance for parents, their families and friends to acknowledge and remember their precious babies who have died. The event is worldwide and this year the focus is on better bereavement care.
We lost Rudi two months after moving to Exeter. We had no family here, only our neighbours who we had just met who very kindly looked after our children while we were in hospital. We were lucky to have support from the RD&E with counselling and aftercare and Exeter & District Funeral Service who ran a ceremony and cremation at no charge. We also chose a place for Rudi at Exeter Crematorium on the riverbank under a willow tree.
In Exeter, we are lucky to have several charities set up to support grieving parents, Exeter Sands are brilliant, they have a Facebook group and regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every month. Through SANDS we found Riley Ann’s butterfly boxes who made and hand delivered us a beautiful box with information and tokens to help us through our journey.
If you are experiencing baby loss, from my heart to your heart, know that you are not alone. There are plenty of people and groups that can help. All you need to do is reach out.
Events in Exeter:
Sunday 15th October at 7pm: Wave of light (all over the world). An opportunity to join with bereaved parents, families and friends around the globe to commemorate all babies who sadly died too soon. Light a candle of rememberence at 7pm on Sunday 15th October, wherever you do this, you will be joining a global ‘Wave of Light‘ in memory of all the babies who lit up our lives for such a short time, more info here.
Friday 8th December at 7:30pm: Lights of Love service (for families to remember their babies at a non–denominational service) at St.Thomas Methodist Church.
Local charities / resources that can help:
Riley Ann’s Butterfly boxes (funded by Exeter SANDS)
Choices pregnancy centre www.choicespregnancycentre.co.uk/babyloss awareness, Exeter, exeter life, infantloss awareness, lights of loss, SANDs charity, wave of light