A special light display and memorial service are just some of the events which Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has organised to observe Baby Loss Awareness Week.
Taking place from 9-15 October every year, Baby Loss Awareness Week raises awareness of pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.
Throughout the week, bereaved parents, and their families and friends, unite with others across the world to commemorate the lives of babies who died during pregnancy, at, or soon after, birth, and in infancy.
Supported by Sands UK (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity), the campaign aims to drive improvements in policy and bereavement care for anyone affected by the death of a baby. Visit https://babyloss-awareness.org/get-involved/ to get involved and for details of local events.
In Walsall, a baby memorial service was led by the Trust’s Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Team and Bereavement Team on Sunday 9 October. All parents and families who have suffered the loss of a baby regardless of gestation were invited to attend the service, which took place in the Chapel at Walsall Manor Hospital. More than 60 people attended, showing how important and significant the occasion was.
Joe Fielder, Team Leader for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at the Trust, said: “We understand that that the journey of grief and recovery is both important and takes as long as it takes. Holding an event like this is an important stepping stone for people- enabling them to remember and cherish their little ones.
“This year we used a children’s story ‘the Kite and Caitlyn’ as the framework for our time together. This story touches on the theme of loss and coming to terms with it. There were opportunities for reflection as we listened to both the story and pieces of music; and also chances for parents to write short messages of love on specially created small kites. These messages and the names of the little ones were read out as parents came forward to hang their little kites on our special Memory Tree.”
Laura Atkinson, Specialist Bereavement Midwife at Walsall Healthcare, said: “This is the first face-to-face baby memorial service we’ve had since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while we’ve had interactions with our families, it has been truly lovely to have them all together in a room to mark this important occasion. We had staff attending the memorial service who work in areas within the hospital that support parents following the loss of a baby, meaning that some parents recognised staff members who may have helped them at the time of their loss.”
The service was recorded and will soon be made available to watch on Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s website, Facebook and Twitter
“This is an extremely difficult week for parents and we want to raise awareness of the support on offer,” Laura said. “We work with a number of brilliant charities who help us in a number of ways to care for and support our bereaved parents and their families. Charities such as The Lily Mae Foundation, The Teddy Rose Foundation, The Rose & Daisy Foundation, Our Angel Bears Charity, 4Louis, Remember my baby photography and SANDS. They all provide memory boxes, keepsakes, photography services, support literature and support services for bereaved parents.
“We are extremely grateful for the positive difference they make.”
To further mark the campaign, a bereavement support display board will be set up within each of the maternity, gynaecology and neonatal departments this week – meaning staff and patients can access up to date information on support available. In addition to help raise funds for the Trust’s own maternity bereavement services, its Well Wishers charity is holding a raffle. Tickets can be purchased from the Fundraising Hub.
The week culminates with the global Wave of Light at 7pm on Saturday 15 October which is recognised as International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Maternity staff will be creating their own light display to mark the occasion, and will be inviting patients, colleagues and others to do the same.
For anyone who feels they need help and support at this time, please visit:
For further emotional support: