#BLAW2018 – Baby Loss Awareness Week in Review

The #WaveOfLight is done, the candles are out and we all try and breathe after either huffing and puffing or holding our breath for a week.

Every year is intense, Baby Loss Awareness Week gives us a space and time to tell our stories of loss and search to find purpose after our world and perspective has changed forever.

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There is much to do but also much to celebrate. For a feel of the level of progress made you can read or watch the Parliamentary debate on Baby Loss or read my summary here.

For a channel that won’t show Still Loved there has been a lot of coverage and documentaries on the topic of baby loss, many of them called Still Loved…

BBC

Stillbirth: I am a mother without a baby

‘Not holding my stillborn baby is my biggest regret’ – BBC News

Labour of Love

BBC Radio 4- Seriously…We need to talk about stillbirth

Stillborn: Still Loved

1xtra

And we have more to come with the controversial (for some – me being one) Child of Mine to be broadcast on Channel 4 this Thursday.

Social media feeds have been full of people telling their stories on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and these posts have inspired others to share their stories or offer comfort to a pain that they didn’t know existed or if they did, hadn’t understood the depth and unpredictable nature of grief.

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The indefatigable Jess managed to assemble a dazzling array of charities, healthcare professionals and politicians from across the baby loss spectrum for a week long series of #BabyLossHour each day focusing on a different aspect of loss.  The collection of tweets from these chats can be found here.  She did all this at the same time as charity work, public speaking and being there for many, many bereaved parents.

awareness advocate finalist 2018 (1)

I used my Butterfly Award nomination as a way of going public to my friends and family about my extra-curricular activities / parallel life.  The wave of support was overwhelming but in a good way.  I learned things from friends and family that I didn’t know like the impact it had on them on learning the news.  At the time I methodically worked my through my contact list, I didn’t really think about what happened after…

Last year, I took a week off from work for my awareness raising, this year I only took one day and even then I came into work to run an event on grief in the workplace.  It went really well, a small but workable sized group, we used our stories and experiences of good and bad management of grief at work to start conversations and identify practical ways to improve it.

Copy of Promo - Managing Grief in the Workplace

It’s been good to see support from outside of the baby loss community for this type of work as people can see that while there are differences in the experiences there is much in common.

There has been much to celebrate.  Many candles lit, many buildings lit up in pink and blue on the final day of Baby Loss Awareness Week and International Pregnancy & Baby Loss Day.

And then we get this:

Naturally this timing is not particularly sensitive and drew some criticism (not “slammed” – I hate that tabloidism making dissent seem violent and aggressive) from many bereaved parents who hold the final day of Baby Loss Awareness Week to be an important time of reflection and memory.

As the above tweet shows the criticism was met with criticism itself.  There’s enough trauma here so I’m not going to link to it.  If you are reading this chances are you can fill in the gaps as you will have heard it yourself many times.

The defence is that the happy couple didn’t know and they may be true.  There’s layers to that though.  It (and the response to criticism) shows why awareness weeks like this are important.  It shows how far we have to go to normalise these discussions so we don”t have to lay claim to a week to be heard, to be listened to and shown some compassion.

There is also the fact that the happy couple did not make the announcement, as Royals much of this is carefully stage managed by professionals.  Part of the role of said professionals is to scope out what events are around that time to avoid this type of situation or at least put something in place to mitigate its potential negative impact.

And just in case we had gotten too cocky with all the publicity there’s this:

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Baby Loss Awareness is about our stories and improving bereavement care.  It’s also about making sure more parents don’t join our already swelling ranks.  While we will always welcome new members with our duty to make membership less shitty we’d much rather the club stayed the same size avoiding preventable heartache.

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