To All My Fellow Bereaved Parents At Christmas

This is a hard week. It’s a week we all had so many plans for. We had images of giggling babies mesmerised by twinkling lights, naughty toddlers poking holes in wrapped presents, excited children begging to stay up late to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas. We had dreams of quiet days at home with our precious little families or warm, noisy get togethers with four generations. Instead we have Christmas morning visits to the cemetary, an empty place at the dinner table and irrational fears the cat will knock our most special bauble off the tree. 
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It’s okay to pretend it isn’t happening. 
It’s okay to ignore invitations. 

It’s okay to put every card you receive in the bin.

It’s okay to stay in bed if you need to.
It’s okay to leave an event half way through because it’s too difficult. 
It’s okay to do whatever you need to do in order to get through this time.
We are having a very quiet day. We’ll be going out for lunch with both families as we didn’t want either to be on their own. The place we’re having lunch at have given us a private room away from the main restaurant so we won’t have to see other families. In the afternoon my husband and I will go for a walk to the lakes we spent a lot of time at during my pregnancy to release a balloon and dedicate some time to Aneurin. We’re then going to spend a few days at my parent’s house being fed and looked after. 
This is not the Christmas we had hoped for. Nor is it the Christmas we’re used to. It’s just another day to get through and tick off the calendar. 
Sands (the stillbirth and neonatal death charity) telephone lines are open and emails will be checked regularly over the festive period to provide support for bereaved parents. They’ve been working on a Christmas appeal with Rakhee Thakrar (the Eastenders actor whose character, Shabnam Masood, recently experienced a stillbirth) over the last few weeks in order to fund the extra support. You can donate to the appeal by texting “Star31 £5” to 70070. Alongside this they are doing a campaign encouraging you to share a photograph of how you remember your baby at Christmas or download their image to share. More details on ‘Star On Our Tree’ here. 
Sands Helpline: 0207 436 5881 

Sands also have a forum where you can connect with other bereaved parents. It can be incredibly helpful to speak to someone with a shared experience so if you don’t feel able to talk to someone on the phone it’s worth giving the forum a try. Sands Forum.
Cruse Bereavement Care offer telephone, individual and group support to people who have suffered a bereavement of any kind. Their telephone line is also open over Christmas and their emails are monitored. Calls to Cruse cost 7p per minute but if cost is an issue, give them a quick ring or send them an email and they will arrange to call you back. There is also a helpful page on their website of ways to cope with grief over Christmas. 
Cruse Bereavement Helpline: 0844 477 9400
Be kind to yourselves. Practise self care. Take some time out to sit with your grief and remember your child in whatever way you can. There is no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do or are not capable of doing. If anyone puts that pressure on you I hope you feel able to tell them it’s not helpful. 

Whatever you are feeling please remember, it is normal and you are not alone.

Sending you all so much love, 
Mrs D x


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