Friday, 18 August 2017

Parental grief is overwhelming; there is nothing that can prepare a parent for its enormity or devastation; parental grief never ends but only change in intensity and manner of expression; parental grief affects the head, the heart,  and the spirit.


For parents, the death of a child means coming to terms with untold emptiness and deep emotional hurt. Immediately after the death, some parents may even find it impossible to express grief at all as many experience a period of shock and numbness. All newly bereaved parents must find ways to get through, not over, their grief to go on with their lives. Each is forced to continue life’s journey in an individual manner.

Parental bereavement often brings with it a sense of despair, a sense that life is not worth living, a sense of disarray and of utter and complete confusion. At times, the parent’s pain may seem so severe and his/her energy and desire to live so lacking that there is uncertainty about survival. 

Some bereaved parents feel that it is not right for them to live when their child has died. Others feel that they have failed at parenting and somehow they should have found a way to keep the child from dying, 

Grieving parents should learn to be compassionate, gentle, and patient with themselves and each other. Grief is an emotionally devastating experience; grief is work and demands much patience, understanding, effort, and energy.

Parental grief can and often does involve a vast array of conflicting emotions and responses including shock and numbness, intense sadness and pain, depression, and often feelings of total confusion and disorganisation. Sometimes, parents may not even seem sure of who they are and may feel as if they have lost an integral part of their very being. At other times, parents may feel that what happened was a myth or an illusion or that they were having a nightmare.

Each bereaved parent must be allowed to mourn in his/her own way and time frame. Each person’s grief is unique, even that of family members facing the same loss. Bereaved parents shouldn’t expect or try to follow a specific or prescribed pattern for grief or worry if they seem out of sync with their partner or other grieving parents

Bereaved parents need to know that others may minimise or misunderstand their grief. Many don’t understand the power, depth, intensity, or duration of parental grief, especially after the death of a very young child. In some instances, bereaved parents are even ignored because some individuals are not able to deal with the tragedy. They find the thought of a child’s death too hard, too Inexplicable, or too threatening. Many simply don’t know what to say or do and so don’t say or do anything.

Probably the most important step for parents in their grief journey is to allow themselves to heal. Parents need to come to understand that healing doesn’t mean forgetting. They need to be good to themselves and absolve themselves from guilt. They should not be afraid to let grief loosen its grip on them when the time comes. Easing away from intense grief may sometimes cause pain, fear, and guilt for a while, but eventually, it usually allows parents to come to a new and more peaceful place in their journey. Allowing grief’s place to become a lesser one does not mean abandoning the child who died.

In the end parents must heal themselves. It was their baby; it is their loss; it is their grief. They need to gain closure, to experience release, to look to their new future.

Friday, 11 August 2017

As a charity we are always looking at different ways we can support the families who come to us following the death of a baby or child whether that loss is through a miscarriage, stillbirth, soon after birth, compassionate induction or neonatal.

Recently we have been getting many more telephone and email calls from families following a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages. 

This seems to be an area that is not always given the attention it needs. Often women will say to us how they feel that others almost dismiss their loss saying things such as "At least it was an early loss", "your lucky as you haven't had the time to get to know your baby" or "you can try again". Whilst many of the people saying these things probably meant it as a comforting thing, ask any family experiencing this and they will tell you a very different story. There is also the common misconception that the earlier the loss the less there is to grieve. 

Another area that is so difficult for families to talk about is the issue of compassionate induction, this is also called medical termination. 
There is still a negative connotation around the word 'termination' and many see this as the couple not wanting the baby and making the decision to get rid of it. 

This is so far from the actual truth. 

The couples who have had to come to the agonising decision to end their baby's suffering, through illness or congenital abnormalities, have done so through many hours of talking with professionals and family. They have made the decision out of love for their baby.
Many families tell us that they will often tell people that they have had a miscarriage as they are afraid of people judging them. They are then not only having to deal with the loss of their baby but they are also having to lie about what happened which can be very traumatic for them.
There needs to be so much more education and discussions about compassionate induction so that families are not left feeling alone and isolated in their grief.

From the moment the lady takes the pregnancy test and sees the positive result she has become a mummy.

Her and her partner will start to see their future and make plans for where their child fits in to it all. Their life has changed forever and they will have already started to get excited about telling their family and friends their news. 
Each week that passes is another week of getting to understand your body and your baby inside. 
The first scan comes and this is yet another chance for the parents to meet their baby, no matter how small they are. Seeing that little heart beat on the screen is a very emotional feeling and makes everything feel more real.

To then have this all taken away from you is so cruel, unfair and totally devastating. 
The father is also affected by the loss of their baby, a lot of people will often feel that the dad doesn't feel it as deeply as the mum. This is not true. 
Dad's grieve just as deeply as the mum. However they are often made to feel like they have to be the strong one and support the lady. Whilst the lady really does need support so does the man.

I once read a saying that I think is true, 'The family that grieve together heal together.' 

It doesn't matter how early a loss may occur or under what circumstances, it is still the families baby. They have had a part of their future taken away and the plans they had began to make are all now just a dream. 

To then have people belittle or undervalue your loss or underestimate the impact it will have on your life can make your grief feel even harder.

We have spoken with many families that have said how they have felt under pressure to be 'normal' again or have had friends/family react in a way that makes them feel like they should 'be over it' by now. This can put so much pressure on them and make them feel that they are wrong to grieve.

No one should ever feel that they cannot grieve and no one should ever tell a family how long they can grieve. 
Grief is a personal experience and is different in every person. There should never be a time limit on grief as this can then make the family feel pressured or even feel like they are wrong to be still grieving.

There have been many improvements made to the provision of support for grieving people over the years but the families that have lost a baby seem to be lagging behind in the support network.

We have recently been in touch with a nurse who works on a gynaecology ward in Leeds who works with many families on a day to day basis who are going through a miscarriage. The staff want to make changes to the care they can give/offer the people they look after. They are already providing a vital service but they know that the support these families need does not disappear once they leave the hospital. 

We are hoping that we will be able to collaborate in the near future to make an impact on the support these families need. Our aim is to have care and support in place for families upon leaving hospital until whenever they are ready for us to withdraw. 

As this service develops and becomes available we will keep you informed. We see this as such an important service that so many families could access. 
The national statistics say that 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in miscarriage, so surely it makes sense to have a support network in place to help these families through their loss.

Friday, 4 August 2017

I am so proud to be part of the amazing charity Charlies Angel Centre Foundation.



Four years ago I honestly don't think any of us could have imagined what we would have achieved in such a relatively short time. 
Not one of us had ever had any experience in setting up a charity let alone how to run one. We went into it totally unaware of everything it takes to start up and sustain a charitable organisation. Naively we thought we would be able to complete a few forms and answer a few questions and that would be it - A charity.

We can look back now and laugh at what we imagined it would be.

It is definitely not an easy thing to do and it causes lots of headaches, sleepless nights and even some tears but I would not go back and change any of it. We have all changed throughout the last 4 and a half years and I feel it has definitely been for the better. Despite all the difficulties encountered we have not given up, in fact we have become more determined and stubborn.

Our knowledge and understanding of how the Nhs works and how difficult it is to make a change has grown immensely. Through our stubbornness and constant questioning we have managed to get ourselves in on many different important National Health Service meetings. Initially we found them very daunting and often felt confused by all the jargon used but we were never deterred. We would go away and do our own research to make sure we totally understood what was being discussed.
Now we go along to these meetings feeling like equals, we are confident in our ability to get over our concerns and questions.

Now we work alongside many health professionals and have become work colleagues. We work in collaboration with several departments to ensure that families do not slip through the net and are given the support they need. We have even been asked for our input on leaflets that are given out from the hospitals. This really shows to me what a huge step we have made and what a huge impact we are now having.

We often get told by friends of the families or the families themselves that we support of the difference we are making and how the support we have given has enabled them/their friends to keep going. It is when we hear things like that that we realise what a massive ripple Charlie has made in the provision of bereavement support.

Initially everyone involved with the charity was from the family but over the years this has changed. 
There are now more and more people wanting to become involved with the work we do and several have now come on board as trustees. Some have started out as families we were supporting and have made the decision that they too wanted to help other bereaved families at the darkest points in their lives. These people are amazing and have helped us in so many ways.

The charity has almost become like an extended family.

We are a group of people that have come together in a group, and it is a group that no one ever wants to be a part of but once you are in it your life changes forever. The families we have helped or are supporting come from all walks of life but we all have one thing in common - GRIEF.
Everyone who comes along all have their own area of expertise they bring to the table. Some are amazing fundraisers, others are great at getting companies to donate goods or services but one thing we all have in common is the passion to see a change in the provision of bereavement support after the loss of a baby or child.

2017 has been an awesome year for us so far and it doesn't look like it will be slowing down. This shows us how much a need there is for charity like ours. We hope you stay with us as we continue to move forward getting bigger and bigger.

Charlie Arthur Curtis inspired the charity and his name and story will continue to be spread across the country and the world. 
What an amazing achievement and legacy for someone so young. 

Charlie will always be a very special little boy to us but he has also become someone that is special to so many more.  

Saturday, 29 July 2017

All of us have been following the heart breaking story of Charlie Gard and his family. 
It must have been the most traumatic and devastating time for him and his family made even harder by the presence of the press and court appearances.

Yesterday hearing the sad news that Charlies fight was over was so overwhelming. 
Although we are not related to him or know his family the UK and further afield have been privileged to have been allowed into their world and their fight. We have been given a glimpse into the awful reality of their situation.

We will all have our opinions on what has been happening but at the end of the day the people that mattered were Charlie and his family. They were the ones that were having to live each day with all the difficulties that entailed.

No family, in an ideal world, should ever have to go through the trauma of losing their baby or child, but to have to do this in the public eye must be overwhelming. 
I truly hope that the press now leave the family to grieve in private, to let them organise and have Charlies funeral to say their goodbyes & to try and continue to live their lives without their precious little boy.

One thing I really hope they have in place is a co-ordinated after care package to support them through the darkest times of their lives. We know how difficult it is to keep functioning even when you have support but if there is no support available it can be virtually impossible to keep going.

This is what motivated us to set up this charity and to petition the Department of Health to make changes to the current provision of bereavement support. 
If the family find it difficult to find support Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation would definitely be there for them.

Your fight is now over Charlie, you are now free of pain and able to fly high with the other angels. You have been such a brave little boy, now its time to rest.





Friday, 21 July 2017

Who is Charlie Arthur Curtis?

This is a question I will never tire of answering, all of us are so proud of Charlie and what he has inspired us to achieve. 
Even when we are finding it difficult or emotional to talk about him we just remember how brave and strong he was.
When we are asked to do an interview or write about him it fills us with pride to tell them all about this incredible little boy.

Charlie always will be a very very special little boy to us, his family, but over the last 4 years he has also become special to so many others.

He is a Son, a Grandson, a Great Grandson, a Nephew, a Cousin and now a special Angel.

He was a fighter from the day he was created to the day he left us to gain his angel wings. Someone so small and vulnerable should not have to fight like he had to but he showed so much strength.

He fought against his illness with great vigour and showed his mummy what a tough little cookie he was. 
Through his show of strength he also gave her fight to keep strong and protect his life for 32 precious weeks. 
He then gave her the strength to carry on after his death and to try and help other families.

Charlie also gave the whole family strength to support his mummy through the hardest challenge in her life as well as enabling us to be able to keep going. 

We have all come through as much different people, all of us changed in different ways. 
Issues that we used to think were massive problems now pale into insignificance. When you go through a loss it puts other things into perspective and makes you reevaluate your reactions to situations.

None of us have been left untouched by Charlie's presence.

Now his fight is being felt by so many more people all across the UK and the world. Because of him there are now so many more families that are able to access the support and friendship they need to help them.

How amazing is it that such a small little boy can be making such a huge effect and making major changes all over the world. 

I want everyone to know about Charlie because I feel so proud of what he achieved and is still achieving in his memory.

Charlie Arthur Curtis, an inspiration, a motivator, a little prince.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Since we set up the charity in 2013 we have been the ones who have organised and hosted all the fundraising events. We have really enjoyed the things we have arranged and have tried to make them a variety of events to appeal to a wider audience.

It has got easier over the years as we have gradually gained experience and confidence in our abilities but at times it has been very time consuming and stressful. 
Our hope has always been that we would get to the point where other people would be holding events or taking part in sponsored events. 

Well 2017 seems to be the start of this happening.

It has been absolutely amazing being contacted asking if it was 'ok to do an event for us'. Some of them have been friends of families we have supported, some have been families who have lost a child or baby and others have been companies that have seen our website and liked what we are doing and want to help.

The first company to contact us was Touchstone, who are themselves a charity that work in the field of mental health. One of their employees had found our website whilst looking for a local charity to support. Every year they choose a charity to raise money for and luckily for us they liked our vision and plans to change the current provision of bereavement support.
They organised 2 events, one was a fun day at their offices, and the 2nd was a sponsored walk at Roundhay Park, Leeds.

                            

                            

These are a couple of pictures from their first event. The day was a great success and everyone had a brilliant time. They managed to raise a fantastic £298.53.
The sponsored run was also a great morning, I went along originally to cheer and support them all but ended up joining in and completing the walk myself. It was  really good getting to walk round with them all and get to know a bit more about them.



We are hoping that we will be able to meet up with all of them again. In total for the two events they have currently raised over £500, what a wonderful group of people they are.

 
The next event that has turned out to be a huge fundraising success has been the Leeds 10K. 
Originally we had just one runner taking part for us, Charlies Uncle Shane. In his youth Shane had been a brilliant cross country runner so I think he saw this as an event he could excel in. He has not really ran much in his adult years but he was truly determined to do it.

A couple of weeks before the race we received an email from Bevan Brittan Solicitors letting us know that there were 9 of the employees taking part in the 10K for us. They had chosen us because we have been supporting a family who are one of their employees close friends. We were really surprised but very excited and grateful.

 
In the week running up to the run we were again contacted by a lady, Ruth Childerson, who had decided to do the run for us as a close friend had recently lost a baby and we are now supporting her. It is very touching when things like this happen as it shows us how important the work we are doing is and that there are people out there who want to do something to show their support.


On Sunday 9th July several of us from the charity, along with Charlies three young cousins, went along to cheer everyone on. It had forecast unsettled weather but it turned out to be a blazing hot day. 
Charlies cousins, who are Shane's daughters, had been busy making posters to wave in support of everyone.




They were very excited to see their daddy along the route and were even shouting out 'run daddy run'. Shane excelled himself and finished the run in 1 hour 8 minutes. We are all very proud of him and know Charlie will be as well.
Lyndon Cambell from Bevan Brittan completed the run in a personal best time which in such hot weather is fantastic.
Ruth ran the race in 1 hour 21 minutes. To complete the run is good but to do it in such scorching sunshine is outstanding. 







  The current total for the money raised from the run is £4,226.46.
What an absolutely phenomenal amount, we would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took part in the race, you are all wonderful people. 

The funds you have raised will enable us to continue to provide our services to bereaved parents and families across the UK.

We hope that it continues like this and we get many more people organising events to fundraise for us. We love getting to meet so many amazing fundraisers.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Each week things seem to be getting bigger and better for the charity, and this week has been no different.

On Monday 3rd of July we took a huge step forward on our road to opening our bereavement centre.

We have been looking around for a bigger office to move into for a little while as we have been growing out of our current one. A few weeks ago we finally found the one that we could see us developing our services in.


 We had been to see a few but this one just had that feeling about it, it felt comfortable and spacious. The office is situated close enough to the town centre for good transport links but not too close to the hustle and bustle. It also had parking spaces available which is important to us when we have clients or counsellors visit.


We have spent the last couple of weeks sorting out the furniture and decor and we think it is looking really great. 
We feel like we have made a nice welcoming environment for anyone to come along to. 

Having this room will enable us to see many more families and will allow us to start up our Community Support Group here. We are also hoping to start up drop in sessions and a men's support group.


The office will also enable our counsellors to arrange to see clients there.

Last week we held our first committee meeting at the new office which was a great opportunity for our trustees to see how things are developing. They were all really positive about the room and commented on how warm and friendly it was. We couldn't have had a better response which just confirmed that we had chosen the right one.

This week we invited 2 professionals, from the hospital, that we work closely with to come and see what we had to offer and they loved it. They agree that this is a huge step forward for us and will ensure that we can continue to grow and get our services out to as many families as possible.


The next chapter in our charities development has well and truly began. If you are ever in the area of the office please pop in to see us, let us show you around and see what we have on offer. 

We are really proud of what we have achieved so far and feel that this is just the start of something even bigger which will make sure that bereaved families are able to access the help and support they deserve and need.

Thank you to all of you for getting behind us and for your continued support it really has made a difference to us and the families we support.

Our address is Sandway Business Centre, Shannon Street, Leeds
LS9 8SS. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Today was the first event hosted by Touchstone raising money for our charity.



They are also a charity but each year they chose another cause to raise funds for and we are the one they have chosen.

They have organised two events the first being an afternoon of fun and entertainment at their base near St James hospital in Leeds. They have a Twitter account and looking at the pictures and videos they have uploaded it was a great afternoon of fun and laughter.


They managed to raise an amazing £298.53.

Thank You doesn't convey enough how we feel about the effort they are putting into their events to raise money for us and the families we support.




Their next event is going to take place on the 8th July at Roundhay Park, Leeds. They will be doing a sponsored walk with many of them completing it in fancy dress. We will be going along to lend our support and cheer them on. Please come along to show your support an say hello.

This year we are seeing a lot of people approach us wanting to raise money for us. As well as giving us a little respite into the organising of events, which can be very stressful (lol), it also shows us how much we have come on and developed as a charity.

Some of the people are organising events as a way of showing their support for a family member or a friend who have lost a baby or child and others are families that we have worked with and given them help and support.

It makes us feel very proud of all we have achieved in a relatively short period of time and it also makes us see how amazing it is what Charlie has achieved in his short but precious life. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

What can you possibly say to parents who have lost a baby or child without it sounding wrong? What can you do to try and help them?
This is something we hear a lot from friends or family members of a family who have lost their baby or child.
No one is an expert when it comes to this 'out of the natural order of things' tragedy. The grief a bereaved parent feels is felt so deep within and is individually expressed. Everybody responds in different and unique ways.
As a bereaved family ourselves, we feel deep compassion for any parent who loses a baby or child of any age.
We can understand the chaos and confusion, that the families are feeling. We know that all-consuming pain and the longing that it didn't happen.
But what can you say to someone who has lost a child? 
"I am so sorry," is a start.
 And sometimes this is probably all that is needed to be  said.
There are many things that people can do. Some are just very simple gestures but they can mean so much to the family and shows love and empathy for their current situation. 
Initially it may be that you are there for them whilst they sit and cry, being with someone can make them feel safer in their grief. Some days you may even sit and cry with them, and this is ok, it shows you care and feel the loss.
Another way you can help is by making extra meals when you are cooking and taking them round. Whilst they are in these early days of grief eating and cooking is easily forgotten. Time stands still and days blend into each other. On many days they will not want to get out of bed, much less shop, cook and take care of themselves.
Other ways to help can be to take over simple chores that need doing like mowing the lawn, getting the shopping or putting the bins out, again these things come way down on their list of priorities and often won't even come into their mind. 
Making regular visits to check in with them can be really beneficial and can make them feel supported.  Sometimes being there to give them a hug and holding them as they cry is all that is needed. Grief can feel very lonely and your continued visits really can make a difference.
And above all, the most important thing people can do is to remember their child and say their name. This could be remembering birthdays and anniversaries, taking little memorial gifts for their house or garden or sharing memories.
A lot of friends or family will say "I just can't imagine ..." No family can ever imagine this path for their lives either. But now it has happened they need you to be able to try to imagine. Sitting quietly and listening as they open up to you about what has happened and trying to help them feel less alone.
I read this quote earlier and I think it is so true,
 "Silence is sometimes the best thing to do, holding a hand, hugging somebody. There are no words that explain or would make any difference to the suffering. Sometimes people say, 'I don't know what to say to these people.' You know, I say don't say anything. Just hold their hand. Hold them, hug them and just stay around for an hour or so in silence and just be there. That's what is needed at times like this ..."
Most bereaved families will need this for the rest of their lives.  The people surrounding them may recover from the deaths of their children but the bereaved family will never fully recover. 
If you know a family that is trying to keep going after the loss of their baby or child, maybe this weekend pop round to see how they are, take a meal round or just make them a cup of tea and sit with them for a while.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Through our work we are privileged to meet and work with some of the most amazingly strong families going the most difficult time in their lives. We are always taken aback by how they are able to keep putting one foot in front of the other whilst feeling like their hearts are broken. 

Every family we have met have all got one thing in common, the strength to keep going and spending their lives remembering and honouring the child they lost. 

The death of a baby/child whether expected or unexpected is the most devastating thing to happen to a parent. 

From the moment you find out you are pregnant you start to plan how this little life will affect your lives. You start to dream of what your child will become, who they will look like and what they will achieve. To have this taken from you leaves a gap that can never be filled. 

Whilst you may go on to have other children this gap will always be there. 

Following the death of a baby it is really common for parents to blame themselves and think that they must have done something wrong. They can feel that if they had done something different the outcome might be different. The reality is that it is extremely unlikely that anything you did or didn't do would have changed the outcome.  

Most of the parents we have met or talked to say that they found spending time with their child following the death very helpful in the grieving process. 
To be able to spend time as a family, caring for your child can make it easier to mourn the loss. 
A lot of hospitals have special bereavement units attached to the delivery suite where couples and families can stay following the birth and death. There are also bereavement midwives that can provide support throughout the birth and days to follow. Not every hospital within the UK has a bereavement midwife but this is slowly improving.

The time spent in the bereavement suite is so important in helping you to get to know your child, spend time holding them and taking as many photographs as you want. The midwives will support you through this time and will spend time with you and your child giving you the opportunity to bathe them and dress them. They will also take your child’s foot and hand prints for you and take a lock of your baby’s hair to place in a memory box. 

Following the loss your body is still experiencing all the things a new mum goes through which can cause a lot of distress. You will still experience the tiredness and the production of breast milk. In hospital you may be given medication to help with the production of milk but you will still suffer with breast tenderness. All of these are a constant reminder to you of your loss. 

Remember to take your time to recover, don’t rush it. 

Everyone heals at a different rate and you have to heal both emotionally and physically. 

Remember to take time as a couple to grieve together.

Our goal has always been to make sure that a bereaved family is given the support and help they want and need to help them deal with their loss. Over the last 4 years we have been actively supporting many families and this number is increasing day after day.

It is heartbreaking knowing that the reason we are kept busy is that another family has joined our world of child and baby loss. It is something none of us would ever want to join or even imagine we would join but through it we have made some life long friends and colleagues. 

Being a bereaved family is hard work but if you have somewhere to go or someone to talk to it can take away some of the burden you carry. 
This is what we hope Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation is able to offer to families and we will continue to do so for many more years. 


Friday, 9 June 2017

As the grandparent of a grandchild in heaven I understand how difficult it can be to experience the death of a grandchild. The grandparent/grandchild relationship is a very special one. When a grandchild dies, a grandparent grieves. They grieve not only for their grandchild, but also for the grief of the bereaved parents. 

For some grandparents, the hardest part is a sense of helplessness.

They feel the pain that the child’s parents suffer, but their own grief may also be very intense. When a child dies, both the parents and grandparents lose a big part of their present and their future. 

Grief is very individual, a bereaved grandmother can often grieve differently than the grandfather and this difference can sometimes create a tension between them. This does not mean that one of them is right and the other wrong. They are both struggling to cope with their own grief as well as supporting the rest of the family. 

There is not one right way to grieve.

Knowing what usually happens in grief can help bereaved grandparents as they grieve. It can also help them as they try to understand their child’s grief and as healing slowly occurs for all.

Grief is said to have several stages. However, most bereaved grandparents do not grieve step by step. 

Grief is disorderly and irrational.

At the time of the death of a loved one, there is a protective numbness. Even though they know that the loved one has died, their minds want to deny it. They may find themselves talking of the grandchild as if the child were still alive. 

The ache in the chest can become a constant companion. As the denial lessens, grandparents begin to feel great hurt and frustration. This could lead to anger directed at others and at themselves. 
Guilt, real or imagined, is always there with the recurring “What ifs?” “Why didn’t I?”. As they try to resolve their guilt feelings, anger often returns in full force. 
Grandparents may experience all of this twice, Once for the grandchild who died, and then for the parents who have their own guilt, anger and pain to cope with. Guilt may occur because they live on, while the young one has died. This is not the natural order of life and can be very difficult to accept and understand.

Sometimes depression is a very real part of grief. It may be overwhelming to bereaved grandparents who may fear that they are going crazy. Bereaved grandparents also worry about the emotional well being of their grieving child.

Time is a slow healer during grief, which lasts much longer than our society is yet to admit or understand. Many families are pressured into feeling 'normal' again, and 'get back to normality'.

Talking with those who have had the same experience can be really useful. Grandparents can help other grandparents in this way by sharing experiences and helping each other to realise that what they have been feeling is totally normal. Some find help in reading about grief and the experiences of others, particularly of grandparents. They may be helped in dealing with their children’s grief by reading about parental grief itself. Some draw comfort and strength from their religious faith, although that faith may be severely tested. 

Those who grieve are tired much of the time. 

Men may have grown up with the tradition that men don’t cry, although they know that this is not true in their private moments. They may feel that they must remain composed so that they can support their wives and children in their grief. 

The family may feel that grandparents are not grieving, although in reality they are feeling the same doubt, guilt, anger and despair as others. Tears have healing properties and should not be suppressed by grandparents since they are a part of grief.

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of grief is the question that grandparents/parents continually face: Why? 
Friends try to comfort with answers but for the bereaved, no answer exists.  

Bereaved grandparents and parents will be told that they must get back to normal. But what is now normal for them will never be the same as it was before the child’s death. Life without that child must go on and as healing occurs, it will. 
Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries including that of the child’s death, may be stressful times. Allow time and space for your own emotional needs.
There will be a deeper appreciation for those children and grandchildren who are around. 
There will be a greater understanding of others who experience similar loss. 
Many grandparents become more compassionate because of the tragic event that has touched their lives. 

Healing will help the bereaved accept the new life which has been forced upon them.

Grief is the price we pay for loving. Grandparents love both the dead grandchild and the grieving parents. As they grieve and try to understand the parents, healing will occur.  Although they retain scars, grandparents will recall the happy times they once shared with their children and their grandchildren and not just the tragedy and sense of loss that they have come to know.  

We all have to find our own path through grief.

But we do not have to walk it alone.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Many people really want to help a friend or family member who is experiencing a loss or bereavement but words often fail them, often leaving them struggling for the right thing to say. Some people are 
so afraid to say or do the wrong thing that they choose to do nothing
at all. Doing nothing at all is an option, but it’s not often a good one.

While there is no perfect way to respond or to support someone you
care about, here are some good rules.
You have a supporting role, in your friend’s grief. So many of the suggestions, advice and “help” given to the griever tells them they should be doing this differently, or feeling differently than they do. 
Grief is a very personal experience, and belongs entirely to the 
person experiencing it. You may think that you would do things differently if it had happened to you. We hope you don't get the 
chance to find out. This grief belongs to your friend, follow their 
lead.
It’s tempting to make statements about the past or the future when
your friend’s present life holds so much pain. You cannot know what
the future will be, for yourself or your friend, it may or may not be better “later.” That your friend’s life was good in the past is not a fair trade
for the pain of now. Stay present with your friend, even when the
present is full of pain.
It’s also tempting to make generalised statements about the situation
in an attempt to soothe your friend. You cannot know that your 
friend’s loved one is in a “better place.” These statements aren’t 
helpful. Stick with the truth: "this hurts. I love you. I’m here".
Your friend’s loss cannot be fixed or repaired or solved. The pain 
itself cannot be made better. Do not say anything that tries to fix the unfixable. It is a relief to have a friend who does not try to take the
pain away.
Being with someone in pain is not easy. You will have things come
up like stresses, questions, anger, fear, guilt. Your feelings will likely
be hurt. You may feel ignored and unappreciated. Your friend cannot show up for their part of the relationship very well. Please don’t take
it personally, and please don’t take it out on them. You will need to 
find someone else to lean on at this time. It’s important that you are supported while you support your friend. 
Do not say “Call me if you need anything,” because your friend will
not call. This won't be because they do not need, but because 
identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and then making a phone call to ask is way beyond their energy levels or 
capacity . Instead, make definite offers: “I will be there at 4 p.m. on Thursday,” or “I will stop by each morning on my way to work.” 
But remember be reliable.
The actual, heavy, real work of grieving is not something you can do, 
but you can lessen the burden of “normal” life requirements for your
friend. Are there recurring tasks or chores that you might do? Things
like walking the dog, bringing in the mail and offering to go to the
shops are all good choices. Support your friend in small, ordinary 
ways.
Depending on the circumstance, there may be difficult tasks that 
need tending to like packing and 
sorting of rooms. Offer your help and follow through with your 
offers. Follow your friend’s lead in these tasks. Your presence 
alongside them is powerful and important; words are often 
unnecessary. 
To the griever, the amount of people who want to show their support
can be seriously overwhelming. What is an intensely personal and private time can begin to feel like living in a fish bowl. There might 
be ways you can shield your friend by setting yourself up as the designated point person, the one who relays information to the 
outside world, or organizes well-wishers. 
You may find that other friends or family members ask you for information about your friend. You can normalize grief with 
responses like,”She has good moments and bad moments and will 
for quite some time. An loss changes every detail of your life.” If someone asks you about your friend a little further down the road, 
you might say things like, “Grief never really stops. It is something
you carry with you in different ways.
Above all, show your love. Show up. Say something. Do something.
Be willing to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened in your friend’s life. Be willing to not have any answers. Listen. Be there. 
Be present. Be a friend.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Losing a child is the loneliest, most isolating journey a person can take and the only people who can come close to appreciating it are those who share the experience.
No one wants to belong to this group.
The loss of a child is a pain all bereaved parents share, and it is something that is impossible to understand fully without experiencing it firsthand. Often, when we know someone else is going through grief, our discomfort keeps us from approaching them. But those families want the world to remember their child or children, no matter how young or old they were.
If you see something that reminds you of their child, tell them. If you remember them at the holidays or on a birthday, tell them you remember them. And when they speak their name or relive memories relive them with them, don't hide away.
 If you never met their child, don't be afraid to ask about them. They are usually more than happy to tell you all about them. Talking about their child validates their existence and can bring comfort to the family.
Child loss can break a person in a way that is not fixable. They will learn to pick up the pieces and move forward, but their lives will never be the same again.
Every grieving parent must find a way to continue to live with their loss, and it can be a lonely journey.
The grieving family appreciate your support although at times they may find it difficult to show it.
Don't tell them it's time to get back to ‘normal’ life, don’t tell them it's been long enough, or that time heals all wounds. These all mean nothing to a grieving parent, they are empty words.
A grieving family will count birthdays just like any other parent, and imagine what their child would be like if they were still living. Birthdays can be especially hard. They long to celebrate their child's arrival into this world, but they are left feeling intensely aware of the hole in their hearts instead. Some parents arrange celebrations while others prefer to be on their own. Either way, they are likely to need time to process another year without their child.
Then there's the anniversary of the date their child became an angel. If their child had lived they would be marking milestones, counting days to start with then months until they hit their 1st birthday. They are still counting in days, weeks, months and years but they are not seeing milestone achievements they are measuring the time they have been without their child.
No matter how many years go by, the anniversary of when their child died brings back deeply emotional memories and painful feelings. The days leading up to that day can be unbearable or feel like it is difficult to breathe. It's an ongoing battle to balance the pain and guilt of outliving your child with the need to live in a way that honours them and their time with them.
As a bereaved parent, they are forever balancing grief in one hand and a happy life after loss in the other.
 You may not know what to say or do, and you may be afraid you might upset them. Whereas in reality they have already been through the most upsetting time of their lives and you talking about their child can break the silence that is often put their as a way of self preservation.

They will never forget their child. And in fact, their loss is always right under the surface of other emotions, even happiness. They would rather shed a tear because you have spoke their child’s name and remembered their child, than try and shield themselves from the pain and live in denial. The stronger and deeper the love the more grief will be created on the other side. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Tonight we are sharing with you one of our trustees experiences of how her and her family have dealt with their own bereavements. 
They are a very brave family to be able to share such personal and difficult times in their lives. 

Talking and sharing our experiences can be a good way of beginning to understand and cope with our grief.

Dawn's Story
In 2002 I gave birth to my second child Charlotte, I was delighted when I found out I was having a girl!
My pregnancy went well but as my first born Lewis was premature I expected Charlotte would be too. 
At 32 weeks my little girl arrived.
She appeared fine but then within 24 hours she had a pulmonary haemorrhage due to her blood not clotting and was heavily sedated and put on a ventilator. We were all puzzled as to what had gone wrong and it was about day 7 until a diagnosis of liver failure was found. 
After a long battle Charlotte passed away in our arms at 14 days old.
It felt like my world had fallen apart. Nobody can ever be prepared for the pain of losing a child.
On the evening Charlotte passed I remember walking out the hospital with just a blanket and a handful of leaflets feeling numb.
Apart from a routine visit from my GP I felt there was no professional support. 
I’d never even been to a funeral let alone organise my own baby's. I had a 3 yr old boy to look after who kept me going and a purpose to carry on.
We never got a reason for Charlotte's death except liver failure but as we wouldn’t agree to a post mortem there wasn’t a medical reason.
Several months past and I found out I was pregnant again. 
We were delighted but very nervous. I was monitored very closely but at 36 weeks my baby girl Sophie arrived, she was perfect and healthy and helped comfort those empty feelings and dark days.

2008 I gave birth to another girl Ruby Isabelle, I always had a niggle that she would need tests and monitoring but I was reassured by the doctors that I had 2 healthy children and not to worry. Shortly after birth Ruby had her routine bloods done. Her blood sugars were extremely low. They took her the neonatal unit and started to do further tests. Within 24 hours Ruby’s clotting levels were low and our heart sank when they told us Ruby was very ill. They were pretty confident the results indicated there were medical issue that Charlotte had when she was born.
We were truly devastated how can life be so cruel. The doctors knew there had to be a medical reason not just bad luck. To have 2 babies presenting liver failure must be caused by something else. The obvious condition to them was something called Neonatal Haemochromotosis. This is a very rare condition but with the little knowledge known about it they tried their best to keep Ruby alive and treat her with various drugs and blood products.
On day 4 Ruby deteriorated quickly and we had to make the heart wrenching decision to take her off life support.

Having been through the pain already didn’t make it any easier, in fact it made it worse knowing how difficult the journey ahead was going to be. Once again I had to walk away with yet more leaflets, a blanket and a broken heart in the cold night sky.
Hours felt like days and weeks felt like months, I had Lewis and Sophie at home and telling them their baby sister had gone to heaven was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Through my own pain I had to comfort them too.
We agreed to a part post mortem for Ruby to give us some answers. The results were clear cut, Neonatal Haemochromotosis was the reason my babies were taken from me. It is a very rare disease that happens during pregnancy when the mother develops an antibody that causes a buildup of iron in the baby’s liver and other organs. After the index case it is an 80-90% chance of recurrence and the survival rate is very poor.

We know now that Sophie really was a miracle! 

The liver consultant told us that a doctor in America had done a lot of research on the disease and found a preventative treatment during pregnancy. I needed to know more about this and began to have contact with the doctor in America.
I had to give it a go! 
Everyone thought I was crazy but I needed to try the treatment I wanted to bring home a healthy baby. I felt a lot of guilt that my body had caused the death of my baby girls. I felt having a successful treatment I would be giving other families hope and I was doing it in the memory of Charlotte and Ruby.

In December 2009 I had a miscarriage at 9 weeks and a couple of chemical pregnancy’s following that. I didn’t know if I could take much more heart ache but I did fall pregnant again and began my treatment which meant sitting on a drip 11 hours every Thursday for 20 weeks! It felt like a massive mountain to climb and a very difficult journey as I didn’t really know what the outcome was going to be.

There had only been 1 other lady in the UK who had gone through the treatment but it was successful.

10th September 2010 my precious Hannah arrived after a planned delivery, it was nerve wracking waiting for her blood result but miraculously she was fine! the treatment had worked. She had some scarring on her liver but after 11 days we brought home Hannah Faye healthy and a little miracle.

As a family we had been through so much and years of heartache.
I always wanted to help other families but didn’t know where to start. I openly talked about my girls to people and kept their memory alive. 

About 18 months ago I came across Charlies-Angels and could relate to their mission to put better after care in place. Their story about Charlie touched my heart and I began to attend fundraising events and having contact with Sam and Clive.


The work they have done and are continuing to do is amazing and I wanted to help them make a difference so I became a trustee. 

Helping other families who are feeling the pain I have felt gives me comfort and helps me cope.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Saturday 29th April saw 2 very special girls take on the challenging 'Radical Run' at Temple Newsam Park, Leeds.

Rhiann (10) & Amy (8) took on this event in memory of their cousin Charlie. They have always been involved with so many of our fundraising events and as they have got older they have wanted to try new and exciting challenges.



When they initially agreed to do the run I don't think they actually truly understood what they were taking on. Once we got to the park they began to look a little nervous bless them. It did look a pretty daunting course especially when you are only small.


We got them registered and took them down to the warm up area. They were definitely looking very nervous by now and matters weren't made better when Amy had to take off her glasses to run. The officials had been told that for health and safety reasons glasses were not allowed. For those who know Amy they can understand why she was a bit upset, her vision is not the best without her specs.

The organisers began to let the kids of a row at a time.

Suddenly they were off, Granddad went with them to the first obstacle to help them conquer their nerves and when they ran out the other end of the inflatable maze they were both smiling.

They then began to look as if they were really enjoying themselves and were even laughing together. For those of you with this age daughters you can truly understand how 'unusual' that can be !!!

Part of the course involved the girls going round a short course on a space hopper, it was so funny watching them bounce round.


Both girls ended up thoroughly enjoying themselves and Amy has already said she would love to do the Colour Run next.




The girls managed to raise the amazing total of £565. Well Done girls we are all so proud of you.




Charlies-Angel-Centre.org.uk