Yesterday, I spent the day visiting our latest funeral director who has joined the list of those who are ‘Recommended by the GFG’ – Bennetts Funeral Directors in Essex, and met most of the lovely staff there, including Leigh Tanner, who has just recently set up a family support group for those who have been bereaved by miscarriage or stillbirth.
Leigh has personally experienced the trauma of recurrent miscarriages, so this is something very close to her heart. When she and her husband were undergoing the sadness of losing their babies there wasn’t anything available locally where Leigh could share her experience with others who had been through the same experience. She felt completely alone and unsupported, so the opportunity to create a support group for other parents was one that she jumped at.
Here’s Leigh speaking about the group in her own words:
‘So, at Bennetts we are very proud of our bereavement groups and that we are able to provide specialist services by people who have themselves experienced such losses. My group, Tiny Stars, is a miscarriage and still birth group run by myself. I personally experienced the trauma of recurrent miscarriages and found that there was no help out there locally for me and so therefore I felt very lonely and isolated.
This group came about after I joined Bennetts and when I realised that they provided services for pre-term babies and miscarriage. I instinctively asked Jane if I could learn more about this. I explained that I had been through this and had never been given the opportunity to have a service or group support. Jane asked me if I would like to be the primary arranger for babies and start a support group for families who have been through such loss which I was very grateful of such an opportunity.
The word miscarriage is so taboo, with women and men feeling as if it’s something too common to grieve over but this is not the case. We at Bennetts are fully aware that any loss is a loss and should be treated as such. For a family to lose a baby to miscarriage or still birth brings such an enormity of grief that destroys the hopes of a future for a baby you have already fallen in love with, and luckily through Bennetts, I have been given this opportunity to offer support for parents who feel that isolation and loss.
Our group runs at Merrymeade House, Merrymeade Chase Brentwood CM15 9BG on the 2nd Friday of the month from 9.30 – 10.30 in the tea room. We have exclusive hire of Merrymeade House for the group and offer free refreshments to all guests.
I do of course understand that attending a group can be very daunting and so therefore if anyone would like to contact me prior to coming or just for a chat I would always be available to talk to someone on 01277 210104 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org’
This is such an important initiative, and the GFG is hugely supportive of Leigh and of Bennetts in setting up the Tiny Stars group for the community. If you or anyone you know in the Brentwood area has lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth, Tiny Stars could offer you a place where you can talk to others who have had a similar experience. Do contact Leigh and talk to her.
Leigh also told me about Aching Arms, a babyloss charity run by a group of bereaved mothers who have experienced the pain and devastation of baby loss.
The charity works with more than hospitals across the UK providing teddy bears for parents to take home from hospital when their baby has been miscarried or stillborn. Each bear is a gift from another family who has had a similar experience and who have donated in memory of their baby, and the bear given has the name of their baby on the label. The bears help to provide a connection for bereaved families and ‘to ease their aching arms as they grieve for their baby who has died’.
A bereaved mother explains how this scheme could have helped her:
“When I left hospital without my daughter my heart was broken and my arms were empty. Nothing could have fixed my heart at the point, but if I had had something to hold and cling to then the physical ache I felt so strongly in my arms as I clamped them tightly to my sides might have been less. As soon as I heard about the idea of giving grieving mums a bear to take home I knew that I would have been keen to take one to cuddle as I walked out of the hospital and to sob into in the dark days and nights that followed. Not to replace my baby – nothing ever could – but something to hold as I learnt to live with the empty space my baby left in my heart and in my life.”
The charity also offers every hospital participating in the scheme training for their staff in caring for parents bereaved by miscarriage or stillbirth.