On Monday 9th October, I was lucky enough to attend Time Norfolk’s loss of a baby day at GreenAcres Woodland Burials -Colony. www.greenacrescelebrate.co.uk
Time Norfolk www.timenorfolk.org.uk are a registered charity that offer confidential, non-judgemental, non- medical support to women, and their partners and wider family members, who have experienced the loss of a baby.
The day was very well structured, with lengthy breaks to meet and connect with people affiliated with other organizations ie, midwives, hospital staff, morticians, funeral directors and hospice workers.
The programme offered a varied cross section of speakers, including moving accounts from a couple of services users. The courage they showed to stand at the front and tell their stories, was a testimony to Time Norfolk for helping them begin to heal from such a traumatic experience.
In the morning session we heard from one of their Councillors, Letitia Ash- Lameer. She gave us a very comprehensive and interesting talk about understanding Grief and trauma. She told us that as an organization they no longer send service users for counseling immediately. She stressed that it was important that they assess for PTSD before embarking on counseling. If PTSD goes undiagnosed then counseling is likely to keep triggering the client. She uses a form to asses the level of PTSD, and supports the client accordingly with EFT tapping or meditation before embarking on counseling. In the afternoon we were split into groups and Letitia did a session on Self -Care for those who deal with baby death. Mapping from emotive words such as vicarious trauma revealed some interesting and worrying links. Lack of self care can lead to burn out and could result in lack of empathy.
The next speaker was Anne Beckett-Allen from Rosedale funeral home in Wymonham. www.rosedalefuneralhome.co.uk. Anne’s talk ‘Choices available for babies.’ was dynamic, full of useful information and practical advice for families dealing with the loss of a baby, (parents do not have to use the hospital funeral director, they are free to choose their own). She was empathetic to the needs of the family and felt very strongly that they should be aware of the choices available to them and that they were given enough time to make those choices. She was also passionate that all funeral directors are up to date with all aspects of baby loss and was disappointed that there were not more of them attending the day. As a training Soul midwife, I hope to spend a day with Anne at her funeral home so I can get a full picture of what happens and how they deal with families and their diseased.
Next we heard from Jaqueline Lake. – Norfolk’s Chief Coroner. She explained her role, and when she might be involved in the death of a baby. She disclosed that they now consider 22 weeks to be a viable birth, with the help of medical intervention, and she try’s to use CT scanning where preferable to avoid a post mortum.
After a very nice lunch that was provided, we heard from a couple who’s daughter lost her first child, a son who she named Louis. As a result of his devastating early departure and their experience at the hospital, they decided to set up a charity called 4louis www.4louis.co.uk to help support families in the same situation. Not only do they provide what’s called a cuddle cot, (a specialised piece of equipment that fits into a Moses basket keep baby cool, to allow parents up to 72hrs with baby), they supply memory making equipment, such as clay, photography equipment and memory boxes to capture and store all the precious memories parents create in the short time they are given with their baby.
Another of the afternoon activities was a tour through the burial park , up to the baby burial site. It is a beautiful natural environment, that is really well looked after by both the woodland team and the visitors. The habitat is kept as natural as possible, so as not to impact on the woodland. The team at GreenAcres expressed a great understanding of what families go through and the grief they experience at the loss of a child. They are able to handle every type of emotion with grace and empathy, and they continue contact and support for families who choose to lay their loved ones to rest with them.
For me the day was very interesting, but emotionally challenging. The most pertinent thing that i will take away from the day and the theme that ran through all the speakers was the need for TIME. Time to grieve, time to assimilate, time to adjust, time to mourn, time to recover, time to heal, time to remember.