Monday was the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness week in the UK. That it falls during October, ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, when we discovered that our baby girl Poppy would never take a breath outside of the womb is particularly prescient. As the leaves unfurl from the trees, I’m taken back to the swirling mists of my grief – even as my stomach grows with new life during this pregnancy.
I became aware of Baby Loss Awareness week a year ago and felt compelled, as I sat in front of the flickering candle I’d lit during the annual international Wave of Light and that will happen this Friday at 7pm, to write about my own experience here. This year, the focus is on improving bereavement support so I thought I’d share where I found strength, support and guidance through my grief.
3 unexpected places I found support in my grief
Of course my family provided enormous comfort, but I quickly learned that it’s often those who have been through it who can help the most.
1. the mums who’d been through it too
The local mums who reached out and shared their experiences – particularly the mum who’d suffered a stillbirth a few years earlier and who put aside her own pain to help guide me through mine. The peer I met who had written an article about her stillbirth and who listened as I blurted out my experience to her before we’d barely exchanged pleasantries (and didn’t for a second make me feel that bringing it up had been an inappropriate thing to do). The stories I read on Instagram and on baby loss charity websites were all integral to helping me heal.
2. the running partner
The acquaintance who lost her mother to cancer the day before I lost Poppy and who became a partner in grief and an incredibly close friend. The long chats and equally long runs whilst training for the Cambridge half marathon this year helped channel and soothe both our grief in a positive way.
3. the charities
My local charity Petals provided immediate counseling after Poppy was born, but I also found information and insight through Tommy’s and Sands. Whilst I have never contacted the directly, their websites, their literature and in particular, their coverage of Baby Loss Awareness Week made me realise how important it is to not suffer in silence.
If you have a friend or family member who has recently lost a baby, here’s 3 ways you can support them.