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"Each new life... No matter how fragile or brief... Forever changes the world."




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  1. When your baby or child has died, Christmas can be unbearably difficult. The whole world seems to celebrating, everybody appears to be obsessed with preparations, which seem to go on for weeks. These confront us at every turn - in shops and streets, on TV, radio, in magazines. We often feel isolated by our grief.


    As we contemplate Christmas - especially in the early years of our bereavement – we wonder how we will survive. It is normal for parents to feel they just want to ’cancel’ Christmas. It is a time to be with family, and the enormous gap left by the death of our child is intensified. Christmas cannot be the same as it was because our family is not the same – not complete. If this is the first year, it will be painfully different from previous years. We may find the anticipation and stress of what we ‘should’ be doing very hard to deal with. Do we decorate the tree, send cards, give presents, attend a place of worship, join in the festive meal, go to a family party? For younger children especially, do we continue with important traditions of trips to the shops, the decorations, a pantomime, and a visit to see Father Christmas? Many bereaved parents find the run up to Christmas – with all the accompanying anticipation– can be more difficult to cope with than the actual day itself.



    We hope that some of the ideas below might help and support you as you prepare for the holiday season…



    Don’t allow other people to dictate to you how you should get through this extremely difficult time of year. Don’t feel you have to go to the office party or festivities with friends/extended family if you can’t cope with them.


    Sometimes we don’t know what we will feel like doing until the last minute. Don’t feel you have to have a plan. Tell people you will decide on the day and you will come if you feel up to it, but may well not be able to.


    Let close friends/family know that you are struggling and need to be able to talk about your child at this important family time.


    Tell people that you need to have your child acknowledged by others at Christmas - to see their name in a Christmas card or to remember them with a toast during the Christmas meal means so much, but many people would be scared of doing this unless you tell them.


    Within the family try to talk to each other, about how you are feeling, or what you all might want to do. Thinking and talking together can help us to prepare ourselves for Christmas, and sometimes when these plans do go right, the day can bring surprising comfort to us


    If you have young children in the family be aware that they might wish for Christmas to carry on as before - although this can be enormously painful for you, for surviving children the normality of Christmas celebrations can be a comfort


    For parents who have lost their only child or all of their children, Christmas can be an especially painful, particularly so if there are no grandchildren. Christmas is generally recognized  as a family time and for parents without surviving children this can be extremely hard to bear. For such parents it can be difficult being with other families at Christmas and yet the alternative - being alone -can be equally hard to bear. Whatever these parents choose to do, it is vital that their child or children are remembered.


    Some people don’t send cards at  Christmas any more. Others like to include their child’s name - for example - “Love from X x and x and always remembering xx”. You can also ask others to include a similar sentiment on any cards they send you. A small gesture which can really lift our hearts.


    Don’t put too much stress on yourself. If there are difficult relations who expect to visit or for you to visit them, just say you can’t do it this year if it’s going to make you feel worse. Or introduce a time limit - “We’ll come over for a quick drink but will only stay an hour.”


    Develop a Christmas ritual involving your child - attend a candle lighting service with other bereaved parents;spend time at a special memorial place on your own or with others; make or buy a special card or decoration for your child.


    Spend time with people who understand. Avoid those who don’t.


    On the day itself, make time for yourself to escape if things are too much. A walk outside can really help ease tensions. Or take yourself off for a long warm bath.


    If you can’t cope with the idea of  Christmas at all, go away and do something completely different. (Be aware, though, that sometimes being away from supportive friends or family can be more difficult and the jollity of strangers may be painful

    Try to take some gentle exercise every day - really helps boost those much needed endorphins.Be aware that the New Year celebrations can also be difficult. The coming of a new year can feel like we are moving ‘further away’ from our child and the celebrations of others, wishing us a ‘Happy New Year’, can intensify our yearning and grief. We can feel isolated from the celebrations and happiness of others.  Acknowledge these feelings to yourself and others close to you, and perhaps plan the evening of December 31st - whether that is to be alone, or with close, understanding friends who will allow you to be yourself and remember your child at this poignant time of year.

  2. Back in the 1970s, when a baby was born sleepingor died shortly after birth, their existence was far from recognized let alone celebrated.  There was no dignity in death for these young souls.  I have grown up knowing that I had an older brother who died a few weeks after he was born.  I have also grown up knowing that my Mum and dad had no idea what happened to him after he died.  All they had was a birth certificate and death certificate.  They didnt have any photos of him, no chance to take handprints or footprints, there was no funeral, there was no memorial.


    Mum would often talk about her little boyparticularly around his birthday in September, but quite often out of the blue.   He was born in 1971, after a long and difficult labour, with Spina Bifida and encephalitis.  Mum and Dad had no idea.  Back then there was no screening available and very little monitoring in comparison to the care received today.  Immediately after delivery, Darren was whisked away to a different hospital 25 miles away. My dad went with him in the ambulance.  That was the only and last time they saw him.


    That was 45 years ago now but it is still a huge part of our family history.  My parents went on to have me in 1972, then my two sisters and grandchildren have followed yet Darren has never been forgotten.   He was a son, a brother, an uncle but there was never any positive way to remember him because we did not know where he was.  There was a void in our lives.  This chasm of heartache rippled through our lives. Mum would often talk about trying to find out what happened to him and where he was but didnt know where to start both practically and emotionally.  Dad kept his thoughts and feelings to himself.

    Then came the turning point in our lives. It was coming up to Darrens birthday last year when we were watching a soap with a story line in it about still birth.  Mum talked again about trying to find him.  Where was he buried?  Was he buried or was he cremated?  She talked about how right it is nowadays that babies who do not live long are given respect and dignity in death and how the parents are supported in a way that she wished she had been all those years ago. This lack of recognition and respect for Darren continued to fill her with anger and sadness.  As I listened and watched her emotions, still as fierce as they must have been all those years ago, I decided that if she did not have the strength to find her baby then we would have to do it for her.


    Only a week or so after this conversation I had found a charity whose mission was to reunite parents with their babies who had had brief life back in the 1960's and 1970's.  The situation was not unique to us, but many families who had lost babies as it was common practice in those days.  There were families worldwide who had no idea what had happened to their child.  I contacted the charity and gave them the relevant details of his birth and all that I knew about his death.  On 25th September 2015, they phoned with me with the information that my parents had been craving for so many years.


    Mum and Dad now know that Darren was buried at Avonview Cemetery in Bristol on 26th October 1971, 3 weeks after he had died.  He was buried with another baby in an unmarked grave in a corner of the cemetery.  Sadly, you would not have known that anyone was buried there, but since they have found him they have been able to plant a tree to remember him and lay a plaque celebrating his short but important life.  This year wouldve been his 45th birthday, this year we will have somewhere to go to remember him.


    For us, our family is now complete. He is no longer ‘Mum’s little boyhe is our brother their son and my children’s uncle.  He now has the dignity and respect that shouldve been bestowed on him all those years ago.


    It is hoped that by sharing our story it may help others find their lost babies.


    This is for you big brother xxx


    Kerry Brown



    This week is Babyloss Awareness week and I have been thinkinBabylossg about some of the comments that have been made to me in the course of my work. Most people are very kind and thoughtful with what they say. However sometimes the things that people say can be really hurtfull. A recent thing that was said to me when talking about the work of "Brief Lives - Remembered", was "I don't know what the fuss is about, It's just a baby". 


    The death of a baby is a loss like no other, NO it is not just about a baby, it is about so much more. It is about the baby who will never become a toddler, schoolchild, teenager or a parent and so much more.....


    It's about the lost relationship off a mother and father and their child. or of a sibling, auntie's & uncles, Grandparents.....


    It's about the lost plans, hopes and dreams. It's about not having a chance to be the person they could have been. it's about so much more.



    Christmas Candle


    We will never forget - Loving and Remembering our children now and always.





    I am very happy to be the first person to write an opening Bluebellsblog for ”Brief Lives - Remembered”. I am the founder and director of "Brief Lives - Remembered", which was founded in July 2004. Welcome to our very unique non-profit making organisation.


    “Brief Lives - Remembered” was established in memory of Zoe Karen Gentle whose time on earth was tragically hours rather than years.  Zoe’s legacy is in the work we do in her honour to help and support families just like hers.   


    In future blogs I will tell you more about Zoe and her twin brother Clive as well as about the wonderful things we are doing. There will also be blogs written by some of our volunteers. Maybe even by some of the parents and siblings.  


    With love and best wishes