On the radio last week, I heard a couple being interviewed for Baby Loss Awareness Week, Mike and Cat Blewitt, from Tamworth, about the tragic loss of their premature triplets. Their story was harrowing, full of shock at how quickly their situation had changed after having their 20-week scan when all was on track, and the sadness of their losses. They recalled how their babies had survived for 90 minutes and had been given to them immediately after a natural birth, and their fear that their children would be taken from them straight away. That didn’t happen. Instead, as a family, they were moved to the Eden Suite, designed specifically to support them in their early days of grief. They spent three nights and four days with their babies, creating memories, taking photos and prints of their hands and feet and being enabled and allowed to grieve with the support of a bereavement midwife Nicola Taylor, from Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital. Nicola came in to support them even when she wasn’t on shift.
Their experience of grieving has been reported to have been done in a ‘healthy way’ and what struck me was Cat’s comment that her babies ‘couldn’t stay.’ To me, being supported to grieve in this way is so important. Often we hear about people who are bereft and are desperately trying to come to terms with their loss and grief, but with no support or knowledge of the grieving process. People can become isolated, stopping talking to others about how they feel, for fear of ‘boring’ others or burdening others.
I often hear ‘”Well, they don’t want to hear me going on and on about it.”. Those who have felt that they have to be ‘the strong one’ find being vulnerable difficult and sometimes impossible, and for others there can be a sense of being trapped in grief, not wanting to make changes or let go of routines and possessions.
At Fortis, we hear from people that they have been offered medication due to their low mood following a loss. One client recalled that their GP had mentioned that the loss of their partner had happened three months ago, the assumption by the patient being, that they should be feeling better by now. Low mood, in fact, feeling depressed is part of the process of grieving, as is feeling angry. The story I heard this week gives me hope that there is an increasing understanding that we need time to process our feelings, to come to terms if we can, with our new reality, and to be sad. Being sad is really uncomfortable but is natural and doesn’t mean that we are weak or that we have to only be sad for an acceptable amount of time. Acceptable to whom? Sadness can come in waves and be triggered as the years go by, by any number of circumstances, anniversaries, our senses or memories. Added to this, we grieve and choose how we remember our loved ones in our own individual way, as well as having our own beliefs as to where they have gone or ‘what happens next’.
There is no ‘right or wrong’ way to grieve but feeling enabled to grieve in the way that suits you is something that doesn’t seem to happen often enough.
Why not light a candle at 7pm to mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week. 💙Ax