Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The charity is just growing and growing and it makes us feel very proud to see what we have achieved.

Over the last 18 months we have seen so many changes happen with the charity. 
Our knowledge and understanding of how everything works and legal requirements has been a massive learning curve. 
None of us have had any experience in writing policies or checking legal requirements but we have had to find out and educate ourselves to make sure that everything we do is done properly. It hasn't always been easy and the long legal terms do not make for light reading, however I think we are all pretty proud of how we have grown and developed as people through this and we are now feeling much more confident in our abilities.

We have also found that the charity is now a much more known about resource for the NHS and other organisations to access. Initially I think they were a little wary as we were a new/young charity but we have shown through our dedication and determination that we are a charity that is here to stay and we want to work with other services to ensure that no family ever goes home without support in place.

When we first set up the charity we had a vision of what we wanted to achieve, we wanted no bereaved family to leave hospital without a comprehensive support package in place. 
This is still one of our main priorities but we have also developed and refined it as well as adding extra areas we want to be able to support people. As we work with more and more families and different support services we have been able to identify specific areas that are currently not being fully addressed. 
We know that it won't happen overnight and we are fully aware that it won't be easy but we are not a charity that is deterred by challenges. We have overcome lots of obstacles over the last 5 years but we have never let them defeat us. Even when we have all been sat down wondering 'what can we do now' we have never seriously thought about giving up.
We were told that many new charities 'go under' within the first 5 years due to pressures and procedures that have to be adhered to. We knew that no matter what challenges we faced we would always be driven by the handsome, angelic face of our very own angel, Charlie Arthur Curtis. Whenever I have felt myself being overwhelmed by what we needed to do I would just look at my pictures of Charlie and knew that I would never give in. I think everyone of us uses Charlie as our inspiration when we are having a 'down day'. Charlie showed courage and strength throughout his short life and if he could be that strong then we could also be strong in his memory.
I honestly think that this is what makes our charity work, it makes others realise that we are not just a charity that will fade away. Families and professionals see that we are a family that understands bereavement and that we are down to earth and are only interested in making bereavement support readily available to families as and when they need it. 
Whilst we can see that there are changes happening across the country it is not happening quick enough for us. We struggle to understand why and how the bosses are not seeing that there are to many families going without help and support following the death of their baby or child. There are more and more TV programmes that have tackled the story of child and baby loss, many doing so in a fantastic way. The acknowledgement that this happens every day and that the families desperately need help and support can only be a good thing but if the bosses in the relevant services refuse to see that it is an issue then nothing will change.
In the last 12 months there has been a few high profile families that have spoken out about their losses and an MP even stood up in parliament and spoke of her experience. Again this can only help the public and professionals see what is lacking in the provision of bereavement support. 
We have been contacted by families all across the UK and have also had families from other countries get in touch with us. We are sadly still hearing of families that are 'slipping through the net' and being left alone to struggle through. 


We acknowledge that most people do not want to talk about or hear about babies and children dying, but it is happening and it is happening on a daily basis. There are so many families every day that are having to face this and need to talk and be heard. It is a subject that makes people feel uncomfortable but the more open people are and more understanding of a bereaved families needs then the less uncomfortable it will be. 
No family ever thinks they will have to bury their child, it is not the way life should go. A bereaved family reaching out for help and support takes a huge amount of effort so if you feeling a little uncomfortable can help these families surely it is worth it. 

Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation will continue to grow and the number of families we are able to get help and support to will also grow. 
We have always said that our 'group' of bereaved families is one that no one ever wants to join but sadly if you do then the help,comfort & support you can get connects us all together for years to come. We have seen this support come back to us as well, several families that have come to us at their most difficult time are now wanting to reach out and give back the support they got to other families. Many become trustees, others help out at events or raise funds for us. 
We hope you stay with us as we develop even further, without your support we would not be able to do everything we currently are. 

Monday, 18 June 2018

We have gradually built up our bank of bereavement counsellors over the last 5 years and it always amazes us at their generosity. They give their time to us free to help families deal with their loss. Several work full time, attend college and still find the time to support us.

One of the many things that the families we have worked with say helps them is specific bereavement counselling. Often they will say that they had been told that they were just 'depressed'. Whilst we know that grief can lead to depression it is also important to recognise that many people are not depressed they are purely grieving.

Bereavement counselling is a specialised type of counselling that involves supporting individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one. This counselling helps them work through their grief as well as perhaps learn coping mechanisms to help them when they are on their own. Bereavement counselling is recommended for anyone, of any age, whose loss seems overwhelming or whose life is being adversely affected by their grief.

Grief can be described as an emotional response to the death of a loved one. Most often grief is equated simply with sadness, though this is not exactly the case. 
Grief often involves a progression of different emotions and reactions that include shock, numbness, anxiety, anger and sadness. It may take days, weeks, months or even years for someone who is grieving to go through several different emotions, and some people never experience all of these emotions. Others may experience some emotions related to one loss but different emotions due to another.

This is perfectly normal. 

There is no set rule for grief, but if there is a lack of emotional response, or an emotional response so overwhelming that it begins to affect a person’s employment, education or personal relationships then it may be time to see a counsellor.

Although there is no set way for grief, there are many different ideas about the stages of grief. The most common description of grief is based on there being 5 stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. 
However, this does not mean that all bereaved individuals will experience all stages or that all stages will be experienced in the same way, or that all stages will be experienced in the same order. This may help others make sense of grief, but those who are bereaved should be concerned only with what they are feeling and how they are coping – not with fitting into a specific model.

Bereavement counselling, whether it is one-on-one with a private therapist or in a group setting, aims to help an individual explore their emotions. 
At the very first meeting, the client will likely be asked about their loss and about how their own life has been effected by the loss of their baby/child. These questions can make the client become emotional and often tearful. This may be the first time they have expressed to anyone exactly how they are feeling. 
Allowing an individual to explore their emotions without feeling guilt or is often what appeals most about bereavement counselling. In group settings people can sometimes feel reluctant to show their true feelings.

The length of time for which bereavement counselling will continue will most likely be decided between the counsellor and the client, and will likely be discussed as counselling progresses. We are lucky that the counsellors who work with us don't put a specific amount of sessions, they realise that often the families may need to return to counselling at a later date or they may only just be opening up when they reach the usual 6 week session and need more time.
Turning to bereavement counselling is not an admission of weakness, but instead it is an admission of the strength to seek help when it is needed.

Coping with the loss of a loved one and the resulting mix of emotions can be overwhelming. Allowing yourself time to grieve and come to terms with your own feelings is imperative to finding peace. Though it may seem impossible, you must remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to cycle through different emotions and come to a natural feeling of calm or acceptance. 
While you wait, try not to make any major decisions such as moving, changing careers, or getting married that might be made due to overriding emotion rather than logical consideration. Most people find some support a source of comfort when they are bereaved, and seeking out caring friends and relatives, an organised support group or professional help may help you work through your emotions. They will likely also remind you that it is important to express your emotions rather than bottle them up inside, and help you remember that though you have suffered a loss, you are still alive and must live your own life.

It is also really important that you also look after your physical health when you are bereaved. It can be very easy to put off eating, or to overeat, as an emotional response to your loss. Staying fit and active with at least 30 minutes of exercise three times per week is also important for maintaining your physical health. You will also want to avoid becoming dependent on alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to help you cope with your emotions. If at any time you feel that you are becoming physically ill or addicted to a substance, see your GP or a mental health professional immediately to discuss your concerns and create a plan for looking after yourself. 

Children who experience a loss often work through their grief in a very different way than adults do. Very often children do not have the words to express what they are feeling, so it is their behaviour that may show how they are feeling. Changes in sleeping patterns, bed wetting, eating patterns, thumb sucking and socialising, such as becoming shy or bossy, or avoiding social situations all together, can all be signs of a child trying to cope with bereavement. Children themselves may not even realise that this is what they are doing. 

Grief can also take a toll on relationships. Partners  grieve differently but they also need to have time to grieve together and open up about how they are feeling. Grief can have a number of affects on relationships. Partners may grow closer as they need each for support or realise that they would like to spend more time together, or they could distance themselves as they don't feel able to open up and talk about how they are doing. Some relationships may not experience any changes.

Perhaps the greatest mistake someone attempting to comfort or console another can make is to insist on how the other must be feeling. Instead, friends and relatives of the bereaved should be patient with whatever emotions the individual may be feeling without deciding whether these emotions are “right” or “appropriate”. Talking about how each person is feeling often helps everyone stay on the same page and understand more about what others are going through. 

Grief is often a solitary, unique experience. Others will never be able to understand exactly how the bereaved person is feeling, so patience with whatever may come will help all relationships stay strong. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Dear Charlie,

It's been a while since I wrote you a letter, although I am sure you have heard me chatting away to you at times. 
Missing you gets no easier in fact I would say that at times I have found it harder. I think it is because I sit and look at your cousins and see how they are growing and changing and it makes me wish that I could see who you would have become. You would have been coming to the end of your year in Reception class. We would have all been getting those amazing pictures you made at school and trying to decide what they were! 
You would have been making your mummy very proud with all your new skills and achievements. 
We would have all been looking ahead to coming along to watch you in your first Sport's Day, if you developed your mummy's running skill you would be miles ahead of all your friends. 

The reason I wanted to write to you today is to tell you how well your beautiful mummy is doing. 
I know you are always looking down on her and protecting her but I wanted to tell you how we are all so proud of how she has kept going. 
She has become such a strong young lady now who is determined to make a difference to the lives of other mummy's, daddy's and their families who have also lost their special angels. 
You have made such an impact on so many thousands of families, that's a pretty amazing achievement for someone so young. You truly are a special little boy.

Because of you we have all become stronger and are driven to make sure that no other family goes through the death of a baby or child alone. At times it can be very hard work but when any of us feel like stopping we just take a deep breath, think of you and we get our strength back.

Your mummy has recently got herself a job. It made all of us almost burst with pride. She applied for a few jobs and those that she wasn't successful with she took in her stride and kept going. I am sure she won't mind me saying that not too long ago her anxiety would have not let her even think about applying for jobs let alone keep going to interviews.

I hope she feels as proud of herself as we do, but I think she often doesn't see her achievements like us.
We have seen her grow since starting work, her confidence has grown and she is able to do so much more than she ever thought she could. We all love watching her blossom and we know that you are always there in her thoughts guiding her along. 

Please keep on looking down on us and giving us the strength to keep fighting and campaigning. You showed such strength and courage in the little time you were here with us and we know that your fight is what keeps us motivated and determined.

We all love and miss you so very much and we always will. 
Love you to the moon and back

Monday, 21 May 2018

Cumulative Grief

"Cumulative grief is the term used to describe people that have experienced loss after loss." Many of the families we work with have experienced more than one loss of a baby or child.
As helpful as it would be to pretend that every time we suffer a loss we have time to process that loss and include it into our lives before we suffer another loss, we know that that is simply not the case. It is all too common that a death is followed by another death. Pain is piled on pain; fear on fear. 
This experience of suffering a second loss before one has grieved the initial loss is sometimes known as “cumulative grief”, “bereavement overload” or “grief overload”.
When another loss happens, how can you possibly know if you have “grieved the initial loss”? 
This is a tough question because grief is so individual for all of us. There is no checklist or timeline that works for everyone. But one thing that is common to the many different grief theories out there and to the personal experiences of so many grievers is that grief requires time. We need time to understand and process each loss. If we don’t have the time we need before another loss occurs we end up overwhelmed by these losses and unable to give them the attention they need.
When we become overwhelmed by anything our mind kicks into an incredibly powerful defense mechanism, which is avoidance. People try to use avoidance when experiencing just one loss, so it is not surprising that this grows when there are more losses. Though avoidance, denial, and shock may seem like a really bad thing (and it can be if it is never resolved), it can be our body’s way of keeping us functioning in the short term. When we are overloaded with multiple losses, this avoidance allows us to maintain our day to day activities. What becomes important when multiple losses have occurred is an awareness that we may need to make a real effort to begin the work of facing the reality of the loss, as this avoidance can’t continue indefinitely.
Unfortunately, there is no magic answer for how to cope with cumulative grief. But if you have suffered multiple losses there are some important things to remember.
 Be aware of the risk of cumulative loss/grief overload. 
Knowing is half the battle!
Just being aware that multiple losses in a short period of time can bring up unique challenges and can put you at risk for a grief process that is complicated is important. Cumulative losses do put us at higher risk for prolonged grief. 
Be sensitive to other friends or family members who have suffered multiple losses and are at risk for cumulative grief
When we lose someone we become absorbed in our own way of grieving. We can find it difficult to deal with people who are grieving differently. Being sensitive to the differences between all grievers is important. This sensitivity can be especially important when someone is facing the unique challenges of cumulative grief.
Be aware of the increased possibility of avoidance or denial in instances of cumulative grief
To make it through, one day at a time, you may find yourself more likely to use avoidance more than you have ever done in the past. This can also increase your risk of alcohol or drug use. These are often used to numb the pain and blot out reality. Being aware that you must grieve all of the losses. 
Keep in mind that time is not the only factor in cumulative grief
Though it may be tempting to assume that bereavement overload only occurs when deaths occur in immediate succession, this is not the case. A loss that was never fully been grieved years before can be brought back up by a new loss and can be overwhelming.
Grief is as unique as each person we lose, so we cannot rush grieving multiple losses
Though it can be tempting to think that grief is grief, and we can lump our grief together if we have multiple losses in a short period, the reality is that we must grieve ever loss individually. Grief is not generic to any loss but is specific to each person we lose, our relationship with that person, and the circumstances of that loss. Time must be spent on each loss in order to process them in our lives.
Cumulative grief can put a greater strain on our faith.
One devastating loss can be difficult enough and can cause us to question our faith in a higher power. When someone suffers multiple losses, this feeling can increase. People can begin to feel they are being punished and have a harder time resolving a God with all the pain they have seen and felt, or struggle with repeatedly experiencing ‘bad things happening to good people’. This is certainly not true in every case of grief overload. Many will continue to find strength in their faith but it is important to know it is normal if your faith shakes as a result of grief overload.

If you have had multiple losses it is important that you do seek help and support. You may be surprised by how much it can help you and your family. When you are already emotionally and physically exhausted from the pain of one loss, it can help to seek support when more losses happen. If counselling doesn’t feel right for you maybe consider other ways which you can grieve for each of your losses. Find a friend or family member to talk to. Write or journal. Find a creative outlet, like art or photography. Join a support group. Just make it something that works for you and that will allow you the opportunity to deal with each of these losses. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

The plans for our 2018 Charity Ball are well and truly underway and it is looking to be the biggest and best yet.

We always get quite excited about the Ball as it is a time when we can celebrate what the charity has achieved in the last 12 months as well as celebrating the achievements of others that provide support to bereaved families.

In our first year we gave out 2 awards for our youngest fund raisers as we felt that it was important to recognise the effort and commitment they gave to the charity.
Last year we gave out several more awards to businesses and professionals that we have either worked with, fundraised through or been contacted by families to say how amazing they are and the support they have given them.

This year we have 8 award categories and we have opened it up to the public to vote for someone who has helped them, supported them or even inspired them.
The 8 categories are:

Bereavement Support Worker
Best Bereavement Service (Hospital or Community)
Midwife of the Year
Inspirational Individual of the Year
Outstanding Volunteer
Young Fundraiser of the Year
Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year
Corporate Fundraiser of the Year

We would love to get lots and lots of nominations for each category and if you would like to put someone forward you can by going to our website and clicking on the Charlies Charity Ball page on the drop down menu.

This year we have also released opportunities for businesses or individuals to come on board as sponsors for each of the awards. This is a brilliant way for companies to become involved and help us to raise as much money as we can to enable us to continue to provide the free services we currently do.

We are offering 3 different levels of sponsorship:

Headline Sponsor - £350

  • 10 Free tickets
  • Programme - full page colour advert in our programme which is given to each guest.
  • Goodie bag - your flyer added to each goodie bag.
  • Presentation slide - Your logo featured on a sponsor slide within our presentation shown at the Ball.
  • Website Marketing - Your logo will be placed on our website sponsors page.
  • Social Media Marketing - Charlies Charity Ball sponsors will receive regular 'Shout Out's' on our social media outlets with links to your business.
  • Email Marketing - Charlies Charity Ball sponsors will see their logo included on our newsletter leading up to the event.
  • Inclusion/credit in press releases produced in relation to the event.
  • Logo included in the 'Thank You' page of the souvenir brochure.

Table Sponsor - £250

  • 10 Free tickets
  • Programme - half page colour advert in the programme which is given to every guest.
  • Goodie Bag - Your flyer added to each goodie bag.
  • Presentation Slide - Your logo featured on a sponsor slide within our presentation shown at the Ball.
  • Website Marketing - Your logo will be placed on our website sponsors page.
  • Social Media Marketing - Charlies Charity Ball sponsors will receive regular 'Shout Out's' on our social media outlets (with links).
  • Inclusion/credit in the 'Thank You' page of the souvenir brochure.

Award Sponsor £100

  • 4 Free tickets
  • Programme - half page colour advert in our programme which is given to all guests.
  • Goodie Bag - Your flyer added to each goodie bag.
  • Presentation Slide - Your logo featured on a sponsor slide within our presentation at the Ball.
  • Social Media Marketing - Charlies Charity Ball sponsors will receive regular 'Shout Out's' on our social media outlets.
  • Logo included in the 'Thank You' page of the souvenir brochure.

If you or someone you know are interested in any of the opportunities to get involved with our Charity Ball you can either email us at: charliesangelcentre@hotmail.com
or go to our website www.Charlies-Angel-Centre.org.uk and click on the Charity Ball Sponsorship page on the drop down menu.

We look forward to receiving the nominations and hopefully seeing lot's of you at our Charity Ball & Awards Night 2018. Let's make this years event a night to remember.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Last year we were contacted by a lady and her friend who wanted to raise money for our charity as a way of saying thank you for the help and support we gave to their friends after they lost their baby girl. 

We have met some amazing people who have wanted to raise money for us over the last 5 years and feel very humbled by their dedication and determination.

The latter end of 2017 and so far in 2018 has been great for fundraising and we seem to have reached that point where we are only having to arrange a couple of events ourselves, which is great as it means we have more time to dedicate to the day to day running of the charity and the extra services we are now providing. It is also much easier on our stress levels as organising events can be very tricky and time consuming.

Helen & Dina decided to take on the challenge of a 34 mile walk around 3 Lochs in just 1 day.
On their JustGiving page they explained why they had chosen to undertake the challenge.

"We are raising money for Charlies-Angel-Centre and supporting bereaved parents and families. The charity has helped to support one of my best friends through a very tough time in her life and I have heard from her all the fantastic work they do, supporting her and her husband and only on public donations.
Charlies-Angel-Centre needs to be recognised for their hard work in order to support families through hard times."

After they had completed the event we were really happy to receive some of their photos from the day.

They managed to raise the amazing amount of £577.50 on their Justgiving page. Helen has asked if they can come over to meet us at our office to hand over the cash donations they also have received. 
We are really looking forward to meeting them and saying a massive Thank You. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

What is Normal after your child dies?

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you 
realise someone important is missing from all the important
events in your family's life. 

Normal is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for 
Birthdays, X-mas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, New Years, 
Valentine's Day, July 4th and Passover. 

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without 
getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything anymore. 

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's
& why didn't I's go through your head constantly. 

Normal is reliving the moment your baby/child died 
continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head
to make it go away. 

Normal is having the TV on the minute you walk into the 
house to have noise, because the silence is deafening. 

Normal is staring at every child who looks like they are your
child’s age. And then thinking of the age they would be now. 
Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it,
because it will never happen. 

Normal is every happy event in your life always being backed
up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in
your heart. 

Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an
everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror 
in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of your "normal." 

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how
to honour your childs’s memory and their birthdays and 
survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fit's the occasion. Happy Birthday? Not really. 

Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of
something special my child loved. Thinking how they would 
love it, but how they are not here to enjoy it. 

Normal is having some people afraid to mention my child’s
Normal is making sure that others remember them.

Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with
their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever. 

Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock,
the grieving gets worse, not better. 

Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their
life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. Nothing compares.


Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away
from you - it doesn't compare. 

Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child
is unnatural. 

Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because
you know your mental health depends on it. 

Normal is realising you do cry every day.

Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone but
someone stricken with grief over the loss of their child. 

Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel
with chat buddies who have also lost a child.  
Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God.
"God may have done this because…" 

I know my child is in "heaven," but hearing people trying to
think up excuses as to why a fantastic young child was taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother. 

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned
the house, did the laundry or if there is any food. 

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say
you have two children or one child, because you will never 
see this person again and it is not worth explaining that your child is dead. 
And yet when you say you have one child to avoid that
problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed the dead child. 

Normal is asking God why he took your child's life instead of
yours and asking if there even is a God. 

Normal is knowing you will never get over this loss, not in a
day nor a million years. 

Normal is having therapists agree with you that you will never
"really" get over the pain and that there is nothing they can do to help you because they know only bringing back your child back from the dead could possibly make it "better." 

Normal is learning to lie to everyone you meet and telling
them you are fine. You lie because it makes others uncomfortable if you cry. You've learned it's easier to lie to them then to tell them the truth that you still feel empty and it's probably never going to get any better -- ever. 

And last of all...

Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for
you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal."