As part of our month raising awareness of loss, we want to look at the experience of baby loss suffered by many in our community. If you read our blog last week, you’ll be aware that the 9th of October marks the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week, and so today we’re hearing from Tanya Allen, manager at Reflect.
It’s great to know that we can signpost our visitors to Reflect’s fantastic services. They are a local charity providing a free support service in North Yorkshire for anyone facing a Pregnancy Choice and for those struggling after experiencing Pregnancy Loss from any cause. We asked Tanya to share more about Reflect’s work…
Could you tell us about the support you offer at Reflect?
Reflect offers help to anyone facing a pregnancy choice. We offer free pregnancy testing with trained advisors and whatever the result we can help you explore your feelings and options without any pressure. At Reflect, we provide information on parenting, adoption and abortion. We offer post-abortion support for anyone struggling after having a termination.
Reflect also provides care and support to anyone who has experience of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.
A pregnancy loss at any stage of pregnancy or soon after, can leave a woman or man feeling overwhelmed with unanswerable questions and grief.
A sense of isolation and loss are common and may leave you feeling ‘out of step’ with events. Reflect can help work through the emotions that surround the loss in a safe and compassionate environment. We allow time to express pain and disappointment and support for as long as is necessary.
What are you doing for Baby Loss Awareness Week?
Baby Loss Awareness Week is held from the 9th to 15th October and as part of this Reflect is hosting our second ‘light a candle’ vigil at St. Peter’s Church in Harrogate on Tuesday 9th October from 1pm until 2.30pm.
Everyone is welcome to come along and light a candle, write a message and spend as long as they wish remembering a baby lost at any stage of pregnancy or sooner after. There will also be trained advisors ready to listen if you would like to talk.
What would you suggest to someone going through grief, especially the grief of baby loss?
Grief is normal and is a process of emotional suffering usually caused by the loss (or perceived loss) of someone or something that is important to us. Following pregnancy loss, grief is the release of sadness at the loss of the baby, all that might have been and potentially a bit of themselves. Grief often involves initial shock, then sadness and anger or fear, before moving forward into acceptance. However even months or years after the loss someone can still on occasions be overcome with grief.
Grief is a uniquely personal experience and how you deal with having a baby loss is incredibly personal. I would encourage anyone struggling after pregnancy loss to seek support – to talk to someone and know that it’s ok to seek professional support from someone trained in bereavement support. It is helpful to explore your feelings about the loss and to give yourself permission to grieve. Doing something to remember your baby by can often be helpful. This could include naming your baby, writing a letter or poem, drawing a picture or choosing something to remember them by e.g. a ring or necklace, planting a tree or making a memory box.
What kinds of support do you offer to help people through the experience of loss?
We offer a structured support programme called ‘The Journey’ to enable someone to come to terms with their loss. The Journey course is a series of around 10 sessions exploring the emotional, physical and spiritual effects of pregnancy loss and has proved to be life-changing for those who have completed the programme at Reflect. We look at the different stages of the grieving process and help to work through all the different emotions that may come up such as anger, sadness, guilt and grief. We offer the Journey programme one-to-one and for couples.
Losing a baby under any circumstance and at any stage of pregnancy can cause a great deal of suffering for the mother or father, and at Reflect we are here to provide space and time to work through that suffering. We want to give hope of coming to a place of acceptance and being able to move forward. One client said:
I found it very helpful to have a safe space to talk… [Reflect] has really helped me through the most difficult period of my life in a way that has made me stronger and happier than before.
A loss may have been recent or many years ago. Someone may have experienced one loss or several. All Reflect volunteers are trained in our specific pregnancy loss support and all receive regular, ongoing, supervision & training. Emma, one of our volunteers, described her experience of helping a client “It’s wonderful to see the person change in front of you… no longer overwhelmed by sadness but accepting the miscarriage as part of her life journey”
What advice would you give to someone supporting a friend or family member through loss?
Many of our clients wish that friends and family would be able to talk to them about their loss, to ask them about their experience and to ask how they are. If a baby has been named please do use it. Often people also wish that their friends were normal around them and invite them to events, even if they say no. Also, practical support can be helpful, especially if they have other children. Ask them “What can I do to help?” and ask them again in a few days and weeks’ time.
All Reflect’s services are free and confidential. If you would like any further information or if you would like to make an appointment you can contact us via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our website at www.reflectsupport.co.uk or call us on 01423 206710.
Written by Tanya Allen
Edited by Ella Green