Sunday, 31 December 2017

Friday 29th December 2017 was Charlie's 5th birthday.

This is always going to be a date in the year that is extra hard for his mummy and the family. Naively we thought that as each year passed it would get easier to cope with the day.

We were very wrong.

I have found this year strange because I cannot get a picture out of my mind of what a 5 year old little Charlie would look like. 5 seems an age when children are starting to explore the world more and can interact with everyone so much more.
This Christmas would have been one when he would have been loving ripping open his presents and getting excited about Santa visiting. 
Carrie made a lovely photo for her special boys birthday and she wrote some beautiful words to go with it.

"I am forever changed for having known the gift that was you. I miss who you were, who you would have become and who I was going to be. But I am a better person for having known you, if only for a moment. Happy 5th Birthday Charlie 🦋 Have A Wonderful Day My Angel, I miss you so much and I love you even more 💙Till we meet again.
Mummy... XxX"

Every year we always make sure that we do something that we think Charlie would have loved joining in with. This year his mummy decided to go to Pizza Hut. 

Since Charlie's birth two of his uncles now live away from Leeds and unfortunately were not able to come up for the 29th but they did make sure that they did something on the day to remember and honour him. 
There were 13 of us all together and it always makes it feel special that we come together for this one date of the year.

Everyone had a lovely meal and we were kept entertained by Charlie's nieces.


Following the meal we all went over to a small bridge over the river where we all released a balloon. The children were very excited to see how far their balloon would go.

As the balloons followed each other down the river a little voice said "Bye Charlie, Love you". It was Charlie's youngest niece 3 year old Mila. Such beautiful words from such a little but beautiful girl.

Carrie then told us that she had made us all a gift to take away with us. When she gave them all out we were just amazed, they were absolutely beautiful and each one was individualised.

Thank you so much Carrie for such wonderful gifts in memory of your special little boy.

We know you were looking down on us Charlie and helping us to stay strong. We Love you so much and miss you every day.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve is here again, where has the last 12 months gone. 

December is always a difficult month for us with Charlies Birthday falling on the 29th and seeing all the other people rushing around getting ready for the 25th full of excitement, when we would give anything to be able to be buying gifts for Charlie.

This time of year is really a time for family to come together and this is even more important to us as now is when we need each other for support and to help us all get through it as well as we can. 

I think running the charity has been a real help to us as it enables us to get engrossed in the everyday running and event organisations which then doesn’t allow a lot of time to be able to sit back and think. It has also helped us because we can see how much we are now helping other families going through the same experience we did. The last 12 months has also seen us make a lot of headway in getting the NHS and other organisations to sit up and take notice. 

2018 is looking as if it is going to be another amazing year for us and our ultimate aim of opening our bereavement centre is getting closer. 

This time of year is also when the charity has to look at our accounts and we thought we had pretty much finished our fundraising efforts for 2017. 

However we were wrong.

This week we received a message through our face book page asking if someone was available as they would like to pop round with a donation. Of course we said yes and waited excitedly to see who it was as we didn’t recognise the name. 
Well when they arrived we were blown away. The donation was from a local car dealer who we had been into earlier in the year to see if they could help with an auction prize. As they were a new company they were unable to help but seemed genuinely interested in the work we were doing. Clive, one of our trustees, had decided to go into their site as the name was Angel Cars and he felt that the connection to our charity name was a great coincidence. 
The company decided that they did want to support us and unbeknown to us they had started an initiative where for every car sold through November to December they would donate £100 to us.

When they presented Clive with the cheque we were absolutely amazed at the figure of £500 on it.  

What an amazing family and business to decide to help us in such a great way, the money they have donated will enable us to continue to offer the free help and support we currently do to bereaved parents and families. 
At a time of year where everyone is spending their money on gifts and food for them to give such a large amount is phenomenal. It really does warm your heart and restores your faith in mankind. 

We have also received donations over the last couple of days from another charity and from families we have supported. In a world where we only tend to hear the bad news this week has really shown us that there are some awesome people out there that want to help others. 

We hope you all are able to share your Christmas with your loved ones and can think about and honour your little angels in whatever way is best for you.

Our charity is always here to help and even over the Christmas holidays there will always be someone able to respond if you need to contact us. 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Our 2nd Christmas Memorial Service took place on Thursday. 

It was a wonderful evening and we were so pleased to see a lot of familiar faces as well as new families we have been supporting. 

Although we were all together because of the most awful event that could ever happen to a family, the death of a baby or child, it was a lovely way for us all to come together and honour them.

The evening began for us at 6pm as we all got to St Cross early to set up for the event. We always have a few nerves at this point and feel like we have bound to forgotten something.

With all hands on deck we quickly got everything organised, the programme for the evening along with a small gift for everyone was placed on the pews, the raffle prizes were all on display, the Christmas tree and baubles were all ready, the craft table for any children attending was ready and the wonderful Nicola & Abigail from Beaverbrooks had all the refreshments ready.

The service began at 7pm and we were very lucky to have local singer, Tree, come along to perform some songs. She chose some lovely ones that seemed to fit in really well with the theme of the event.

The vicar, Andy Myers, then began the evening by saying a few words before he started to read out the names of all the babies and children. As the names were read out family and friends were asked to come out to light a candle in their memory. Whilst the names were being read out Tree also played some music.

There were so many people there, seeing all the candles flickering was really moving. We were also very thankful for the beautiful cake given to us for all the families to share.

Once all the candles had been lit the vicar said thank you to everyone who came and let us join them in honouring their children. 
It was then my turn to get up to thank all for coming and for supporting each other. It was nice to be able to share with them how the charity has been doing throughout 2017 and how thanks to them and their support we are able to help so many more families.
I then invited Esther Clamp , a bereaved mother, who we have been supporting to come up. Prior to the evening Esther had contacted me to say that she had been making cards and selling them to raise money for us in honour of her little girl Leyna who they lost earlier on in the year.  Esther wanted to make sure that through her loss she could go on to do something positive for other families. So far she has raised £215, Esther then added that her boss has agreed to credit match anything that Esther raises in the future and from the current cards. This definitely makes you see that there are some amazing people out there that want to help people.

We then drew the raffle and everyone seemed to like their prizes.

Our Christmas tree looked absolutely amazing at the end of the evening with all the baubles on. 

We have already been asked by people who attended if we are definitely doing another service next year, even the vicar commented and said he would love it to be an annual event.
Looks like our Christmas Memorial Service is now an annual event. 

What a brilliant way to all get together and remember and honour all our angels.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

This Thursday, 14th December, is our second Christmas Memorial Service at St Cross church in Middleton, Leeds.

Last years service was a wonderful evening and provided somewhere for so many families to come together to honour and remember their angels. 

This year we are hoping that it will be just as successful or even more. 
Over the last 12 months we have met so many more families and have been able to support them in their loss. 

Our charity always aims to help and support bereaved families but we have found that the families we have helped go on to become friends rather than acquaintances. Coming together at this very difficult time of year for bereaved families is such a special way of everyone being able to help each other. There is no one there that will not understand the struggles that people are going through.

We have all been busy making sure that everything is ready, from the baubles for the tree, the special gifts for everyone who attends and the prizes for the raffle.

We are very fortunate to work with and alongside some amazing people who give so much of their time and energy to our charity and without them we would definitely find it harder to do everything we currently do. There have been some wonderful donations made to us for raffle prizes, Beaverbrooks Jewellers staff have agreed to come along to provide refreshments for everyone and we are delighted and excited that a local singer has agreed to come along to sing for us. 

We hope that you are all able to come along to the service. There will be many of us there from the charity if you need to talk to anyone about support you may need or just to have a chat to.

Whilst the evening is not predominantly to raise funds for us, any  money raised from the event will enable us to continue to provide the free support and help we currently give.

Christmas can be a very difficult and lonely time for families and if we can help make the holidays a little less traumatic for them we will do.

Charlie Arthur Curtis has already made a huge impact on the face of bereavement support and we couldn't be any prouder of our special little boy.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

December is always a difficult month for our family since we lost Charlie. 

Back in December 2012 we were all still busy getting ready for the festive season and were trying to stay strong for Carrie. 
None of us expected that we would meet Charlie in December, his due date had been 22nd February, so we thought we would still have several more weeks with him safe inside his mummy. We all shared our Christmas day with each other and even when Carrie had some stomach twinges we didn't think that it was Charlie getting ready to join us.

Charlie however had very different ideas.

Throughout Carrie's pregnancy, when we went along to her regular scans, Charlie always showed us how strong and courageous he was. The first thing we would always see was his strong little heart pumping away, this always gave us that slight glimmer of hope. Questions would whirl around your head, how could this little baby with such a strong heart beat be so poorly.
None of us were under the illusion that things were going to end positively but it definitely made it harder when you could see him moving slightly and grinding his gums. All of us hoped that Charlie would be the baby to beat the odds of this awful condition.

Christmas is always portrayed as a happy time when everyone gets together and shares happy times, even putting aside any bad feelings or arguments.

We know that this is not always the case. 

Whilst we were in the hospital there were families there all celebrating and excitedly sharing their news,but we also know that there were also several families there that were going through the same as us. 
They were suddenly faced with having to say hello and goodbye to their baby, they were in a place where they could hear other people welcome their babies into the world. Some families, including us, had to remain on the delivery suite hearing babies crying as they took their first breaths. 
We know that this was not what the staff would have wanted for us but the specialist bereavement suite was full. This in itself was heartbreaking as this meant there were several other families that were trying to come to terms with the death of their child.The only way we could be moved round to the Rosemary Suite was when a family made that heartbreaking decision to go home, leaving their baby behind.

Since our own experiences we have come to realise just how many families are affected by baby/child loss across the country. If you have never been touched by a loss you wouldn't even begin to imagine how many families are dealing with this on a daily basis.

All of those families are currently trying to keep functioning through the Christmas and New Year whilst never forgetting their precious 'angels'.

If you are part of a family that has lost their baby/child please try and be gentle on yourselves. Don't worry if you don't feel like celebrating or getting together with friends and family. If you are not able to send out cards, that is ok, you already have enough going around your brain without the extra worry of joining in with the tradition of card sending. Give yourself the space to grieve without worrying.

If you know a family that are trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other over this festive season please don't put extra pressure on them by expecting them to want to join in. 
If you don't get a card or present it isn't personal, they are probably not even able to think about going out to the shops.
If they do want to come along to any family events be ready to share with them the memories of their child. They will probably want to share with you but may feel worried to do so.

Everyone feels awkward when it comes to talking about death and the death of a baby even more so.

It is important to acknowledge and respect what they feel able to join in with, they are still the same person they were before but they now carry their grief with them. 
The person doesn't change but their emotions, experiences and outlook on life almost certainly will. Many families say that they now see what is actually important in their lives and the things that used to worry them no longer do.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

We have reached that time of year when it feels like everyone is out there getting excited for the festivities ahead whilst you are sat at home wondering how you are going to get through it again.

Already I am seeing houses with their decorations up and Christmas tree's standing proud. All the shops are full of every present you could ever imagine buying and many that you think why would anyone buy them.

The TV is now full of Christmas things from presents to the food, and supermarkets & shops compete to have the best Christmas advert. Radios have began to bring out all the old songs and we are forever hearing 'Wish it could be Christmas everyday' from now until the 26th December.

Work colleagues have already planned the Christmas work 'do' and the talk is of the new outfits being bought for the night.

Christmas cards will soon start arriving through the letterbox and you will be sitting thinking that maybe you should be writing yours. Panic will start to kick in for people and they will begin to stress that they have not got all the presents they need to buy and that they will not have enough food for those relatives that could turn up over the holidays.

There is however a group of people that now dread the festivities and the excitement that Christmas used to bring.

The grieving families feel bombarded with the constant reminders of the pain they feel from the loss of their baby or child. They see everywhere families out together celebrating the festive season whilst they can only sit back and wish that they were able to join in.

Often bereaved families will shut themselves away and try to shut out the holiday noise. Many will begin to resent this time of year and may even end up hating Christmas as it brings up to many painful reminders for them.   
 If there are other children it can become difficult as you have to keep up with the celebrations for their sake and you want them to have a wonderful time and make memories for their futures. Many families say that they feel like they just go into automatic pilot and try to make it into a magical time for their children whilst never forgetting to include their lost child into the day.

There are so many beautiful memorial gifts that are now readily available to buy and these can really make a difference as it allows the family a way of being able to still buy their child a gift.

Every year since we lost Charlie I have always made sure that I go and buy a new bauble for our tree that is 'Charlie's bauble'.
I know other families that have also bought new decorations in honour of their loved one and either hang it in the house or take it to their child's grave. 

When it comes to Christmas day I think that every family will find a way for them to get through the day, whether that be spending time alone, with other family members or visiting their child's grave or favourite place. Whatever you choose to do is the right thing for you.
A grieving family should never feel that they are being judged for how they want to spend this time. It is a very difficult time for them without the added pressure of feeling that people disagree with how they deal with it. 

The best thing family and friends can do is to let the grieving family know that they are there for them when and if they want them. Let them know that your door is always open for them to come along for a drink, a mince pie or even a hug.

Please don't let a grieving family feel alone or that they have no one to reach out to at this festive time, always give them the option to join in even if they don't end up taking it. Sometimes just knowing that you are there for them will be enough.

If you are a grieving don't feel that you have to join in with all the celebrations just for the sake of it but also don't feel guilty if you do want to go and join in.  

Christmas can be difficult for any family, the extra money worries and family gatherings but adding in a bereavement can make it even harder. 

So let's all try and show each other an extra bit of compassion this year and stop putting extra pressure on ourselves and others to be 'OK'.

Monday, 20 November 2017

When we meet a family we are supporting there seems to be a common factor that all of them describe.


There are so many bereaved families out there that are struggling everyday of their lives since their baby or child died with anxiety. 

There are many different levels of anxiety an we see that with our clients. 

Some will experience mild anxiety where they struggle to do certain activities but it doesn't impact on their day to day life in to much of a negative way.
Others describe anxiety that can impact on their daily routines and they may need someone with them to enable them to get out and about to keep up with their shopping etc.

Then there are the families, and we see many of these, that are really struggling with anxiety. It is often so severe that they do not feel able to carry on with any day to day activities. 
Many describe feeling that they never want to get up out of bed let alone contemplate getting dressed and meeting anyone. 
It can often be difficult to even feel like they want to see their family, often because they feel that they will have to put on a front and try to act 'normal'.

Anxiety can become totally debilitating and at its worst can lead on to feelings of wanting to self harm or even commit suicide. I have had people say to me that they would rather be with their child than try to keep going without them.

This is when it is so important that these families have the help and support they need when they need it, even if that is the middle of the night. This support doesn't necessarily have to be from professionals, often there will be a friend or a charity that can be there to help them through the crisis. 

If you know a family or are part of a family that has lost a baby or child please keep looking out for each other, anxiety can not only affect the parents but any family member.

Helping a friend or family member realise that they need extra support can be a true life saver. Taking that first step of reaching out for help and support can be extremely difficult but knowing someone is there to pick you up when you fall can really help to seek extra support. 

Often having someone with you can make you realise that you are not 'going mad'. This is something we here a lot of, families that feel that they should be ok by now, so are putting to much pressure on themselves to 'get over it'.

One thing we have come to realise since Charlies death is that you don't get over it, you learn to live your life differently whilst always finding a way to include your baby/child. 

If families allow themselves to grieve, for however long it takes, they can often see that there can be a future ahead. It won't be easy and many will always experience anxiety but with the right help, support and friendship there can be a way forward.

A friendly face can make a big difference, so never underestimate how much you can help just by being there.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The decision to have a baby can be a difficult one to make for any family, there are always the worries of how will they cope financially, will they be able to cope with the new life they have bought into the world and how their relationship will change after the birth.

This decision is made so much more difficult when the couple have experienced the loss of a baby or child.

Some will make the decision to try again as soon as possible, often because they feel an enormous gap that they need to fill. Others will be feeling that they will never want to try again as they can't imagine going through another loss and can not see that a further pregnancy could be a positive experience.

There are the families that may have had fertility problems and the thought of having to go through any more heartache is too much to comprehend.

When a family has lost a baby or child they may also be faced with having to wait for genetic testing or postmortem results. The lady may have also had to go through a surgical procedure and her body is adjusting after that. Some ladies also find that it may take some time for their hormones to return to normal an their periods to return.

All of these things makes another pregnancy feel very daunting.

Talking with your consultant, GP or midwife can be a good way of getting your fears and worries out in the open and they can try to allay some of them. 

Talking is so important.

Once you have become pregnant again it can be the beginning of 9 months of worry and fear. Although you are happy and excited to be pregnant again many women say that they are constantly worrying that the same thing will happen again. 

Families that have lost a baby during pregnancy, at birth or shortly after birth and become pregnant again will usually be supported by the hospital and midwife and monitored very closely. Whilst this can help you feel more secure it will never take away the fear altogether.

Many of the families we have supported and that have gone on to become pregnant again speak of how difficult it can be returning to the hospital for their scans. They want to see their baby but the thoughts of their last experiences come flooding back and they feel full of dread. 
Often they will not be able to start to 'enjoy' the pregnancy until they have passed the point when they lost their other baby. There will be many difficult trigger points throughout the pregnancy and each one will be just as difficult to get through.
When families are given the right support throughout, this time can become a positive experience.

A common thing that we hear is that they will never feel relaxed until they have their baby in their arms, healthy and crying. 
Many families have gone on to have another baby and whilst they are so delighted and happy they will never forget the child they lost. The new baby will never replace that child and the family always includes their angel baby in every aspect of their life.

If you know a family that is currently going through a loss or has gone on to have another baby please remember to talk to them about their lost child, it really can make a difference to them.
Also if they do not seem to be receiving the help and support they need please either get in touch with us or tell them that we are here for them whenever they need us.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

When you go into the hospital for any reason you always have certain expectations about the care you will receive. 

You expect to have a named nurse in charge of your care and a consultant that will coordinate and prescribe the right medication required. When it comes to the time to be discharged again you expect that you will be sent home with the tablets you need, a follow up appointment and possibly even an appointment for the district nurse to visit to change a dressing or remove some stitches. You would even expect that your GP will be informed of your admission and treatment you received.

Why is it then that when you have experienced the most devastating loss of losing your baby or child that some families are still being sent home with nothing more than a big brown envelope filled with leaflets, leaflets that will probably never be read and will end up being filed in a draw.

I can almost comprehend it when a family has come in through an emergency that they could slip through the net, but even then this is unacceptable. 
But when a family have been going along to prenatal appointments and scans because their baby is unwell or diagnosed with a life limiting illness during pregnancy how can they be overlooked and almost forgotten by the people who are paid to be there to help.
Families that have found out only hours before admission that their beautiful baby has died before birth are usually given the care and emotional support they need to help them get through the birth and the next few hours but then once they leave the safety of the hospital ward many are having to struggle on alone.

Since we set up our charity we have been honoured to meet and talk to many families going through their loss. Many have spoken about the good level of support they received but many more have explained that they too were discharged home and left to their own devices. 

This is totally unacceptable and it saddens my heart to see that things have not improved since we lost Charlie.

There is a difference in the levels of care received by families in different parts of the country and we are currently trying to find out the standards of care from as many different hospitals across the UK. We are also interested in finding out which counties have bereavement midwives and comprehensive bereavement support.

Unfortunately we know and understand how devastating the loss of a baby can be and we saw first hand the impact of no follow up support had on Charlies mummy. 
To think that nearly 5 years down the line the standards of care upon discharge have not improved.

Something has got to happen to ensure that no family should ever have to go through child or baby loss alone. We will never stop campaigning for improvements and we ask that everyone who comes across our charity to do that as well and make bereavement support a major topic for discussion.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

I am a bereaved grandparent. I am one of the thousands of grandparents out there trying to keep on with their lives every day whilst never forgetting their grandchild.

The relationship between grandparent and grandchild is a very special one, you are able to be part of their lives without having to deal with the day to day drama's. You are able to spend time with them doing fun activities and you are almost expected to 'spoil' them.

When a grandchild dies the grandparents grieve deeply too. They grieve not just for their grandchild but also they share in the grief with their child. Many grandparents describe the feeling of helplessness, they want to grieve for their grandchild but they also want to support their child as they are going through their grief.

When a parent or a grandparent loses a child they also lose a part of their futures that the child would have made. All will grieve but they will all grieve very differently.

When parents experience the death of their child they will probably grieve very differently to each other, this is also true for the grandparents. Often relationships can become strained and they could come into conflict over how each other is dealing with the death. This doesn't mean that one of them is grieving better than than the other. There is not one right way to grieve and everyone has to find a way that they can cope.

Sometimes just understanding that we all grieve differently can help a grandparent to understand and support their child through this heartbreaking time.

When you read books about grief or google it many sites/books say that there are 5 stages to grieving. 
Whilst I understand there are many feelings that everyone will experience I do not agree that everyone experiences all the same emotions, not everyone will experience the same feelings and they definitely will not experience them at the same time as another member of the family.
Grief isn't rational or orderly and although most people will experience similar emotions and feelings they will never be the same.

Sometimes grandparents may describe it as feeling like they are grieving twice, once for their precious grandchild and then for their child who will not be the same person they were before the death. 

Death can also make you look at your own mortality or start to become anxious that they will lose another grandchild/child. 
I know that I definitely did and still do have periods when I can be troubled by dreams or intrusive thoughts about my other grandchildren dying. I have never really spoken to anyone in detail about this as you feel that people will not understand or will think you are going 'mad'. I think at times I did even wonder if I was going crazy.

The important thing to remember is that what ever you are experiencing it is OK, we all have to find our own ways to cope and no matter what it is it is right for you.

Another important thing is to realise and recognise when you need extra help. It is not 'giving up' by going to your GP and asking for help, it takes a lot of inner strength to be able to take those first steps and you have to do what is best for you. 

There are also other agencies that are out there to support bereaved families, ours being one of them. Sometimes just being able to talk openly about your child/grandchild with someone that you know really does understand how you feel can be like a weight being lifted from your shoulders.

Never feel that you have to go through this alone, there are people out there that are there for you and want to be there for you.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

We have found that making memories is so important to any family but to the family that is dealing with a life limiting diagnosis, a miscarriage or a stillbirth memories become even more important.

If a family has been given the devastating news that their baby is unlikely to either survive birth or will pass away shortly after birth they need to make as many memories as is possible in the short time they have. 

Some families choose to have a 4D scan so they are able to see their child's face and get to know them during the short but precious time they have with them. At a 4D scan the family will also be provided with a disc of the scan for them to keep along with a teddy bear containing a recording of their babies heartbeat.

Many families will begin to make a memory box for them to keep all the special things they receive before and after their child's arrival.  

There are now some amazing charities out there that will also come along to take photographs with the family to help them make and record memories during those hours that they have together. These pictures can be so special and important to the family and will bring comfort to them in the years to come. 

We found a kit that enabled us to make an impression of Charlies hands and feet, I saw similar sets that parents could buy that were from making imprint in clay to having them bronzed. 
There are also companies that will take a cast of the mums pregnancy belly and make it into a solid cast for them to treasure forever.

After the loss of a baby or child there are places that allow them the opportunity to have some of their baby's ashes placed into jewellery as a permanent memorial. This is a lovely way for the mum and dad to always have a special part of their baby with them forever.

Because child loss, miscarriage and stillbirth are becoming more easy to talk about with others, and many celebrities have come forward to talk about their experiences, the subject is becoming less taboo and there is beginning to be many more ways for families to make their special memories.

Every family will build their own special memories and in many different ways. 
If you know a family or are part of a family that is currently having to cope with this awful loss maybe spend some time finding ways that you can help or enable them to make memories. This could be by collecting things together for them to have as a keepsake, this could be a candle, a teddy bear, a special poem or a song.

We all go through our lives making memories and often spend time reflecting on them and feeling safe and warm in them.
Bereaved families also need to make as many memories as possible but in a short space of time which can be exhausting and draining. 

Their memories are so important as they will be the only ones they will be able to make with their child.

We would love to hear about the ways you or your family have been able to make memories. Knowing other ways we can pass on to families we support is really helpful.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

October 9th - 15th has been Baby Loss Awareness week across the world, culminating with the Wave of Light this evening at 7pm.

We know that not everyone will be able to make it to an event due to many reasons, from work to family commitments, so we ask that where possible you can light a candle for an hour between 7 - 8pm.
If you know someone who has lost their baby or child and are unable to light a candle please try and light an extra one for their angel.

Becoming a bereaved family is something no one ever wants to become but once you are you become part of this 'family' that understands and appreciates the pain people are in. You will not be judged nor criticised for how you grieve and you will always be able to find someone who wants to talk about your angels.

Going along to a memorial event today can be the first step for some families in seeking help and support. Even if you are not a religious family just getting together with other bereaved families can make a big difference. Not all events are held in churches if this is something that could deter you from going, and many events can be found on social media or local newspaper websites.

Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation are going along to the Candle Lighting for Miscarriages, Stillbirths & Infant loss event to be held at Church of the Epipheny, Beech Lane, Gipton, Leeds. The event starts at 18.45 till 20.00. We will be there to light candles for our own precious angels as well as being available for support for any of the families attending.

There will be thousands of events like this all across the world and at each there will be many many candles lit. If all those lights could be seen together I'm sure all our angels would be able to see them and feel how much they are all missed and loved.

Charlie Arthur Curtis - born at 04.11am on the 29th December 2012 and gained his angel wings 19 minutes later at 04.30 in the arms of his mummy. He was and always will be a very special little boy who was so greatly loved by all of his family and is missed every single day. Charlie and his mummy have inspired so many people to fight for improvements to bereavement support following the death of a baby or child and his legacy will live on for many years to come.

Our candles will shine brightly for you tonight Charlie

Sunday, 8 October 2017

We are supporting so many more families each and every week and one of the most frequent things we get asked is Can you get through this feeling of total and utter despair.

What we always tell them is you're entitled to whatever feeling that comes up. You may feel intense anger, guilt, denial, sorrow, and fear, all of which are normal for a bereaved parent.
Nothing is off the table, nothing is wrong. If the urge to cry comes up, just do it. Give yourself permission to feel.
Keeping your emotions bottled up is just way too hard. If you keep your emotions inside, you'll only make yourself feel worse about the saddest thing you have ever experienced. It's perfectly natural and even healthy to let yourself feel everything you can about this loss, because this will put you on the path to accepting it.

You won't ever fully be able to get over it, but you'll be able to build the strength to deal with the death of your child. If you don't embrace your feelings, you won't be able to move forward.
There is also no timetable to your grieving process. Every individual is just that: an individual. Bereaved parents may experience many of the same emotions and difficulties; however, each parent's journey is different depending on personality and life circumstances and experiences.

When you go on your computer or read a book about bereavement it always used to give you 5 stages of grief that begin with denial and end with acceptance. We know from experience that this does not happen, yes you will possibly experience a lot of the emotions but many will go through many different feelings. New thinking is that there is no series of steps to be completed in the grieving process. Instead, people experience a grab bag of feelings and symptoms that come and go and eventually lift.

Because the grieving process is so personal to each individual, couples sometimes find themselves at odds because they can't understand the other's way of dealing with the loss. Understand that your spouse may have different coping mechanisms than you do and allow him or her to grieve in the way that suits them.

During the grieving process, many people will experience a state of numbness. In this state, the world may seem like a dream or seem to go on separate from them. People and things that once brought happiness evoke nothing at all. This state could pass quickly or linger for a while, it's the body's way of offering protection from overwhelming emotions. With time, feelings and connections will return.

For many, the numbness begins to wear off after the first anniversary of your child's death, and then true reality can hit very hard.

Many parents say that the second year is the most difficult.

Some parents find the thought of returning to work unbearable while others prefer to throw themselves into the daily activity and challenges that work offers. Find out what the bereavement policy is at your workplace before making your decision. Some companies also offer employees paid personal days or the opportunity to take an unpaid leave.

Don't allow fear of letting your company down force you to return to work before you're ready. When someone we love dies, we lose the ability to concentrate or focus, your brain doesn't work right when your heart is broken.

Try to wait at least one year before making any major decisions. Don't sell your house, change locations, divorce a partner or alter your life significantly. Wait until the fog has lifted, and you can clearly see the options available to you.

Be careful of impulsive decision-making in daily life. Some people adopt a "Life is short" philosophy that pushes them to take unnecessary risks in the living of their lives to the fullest.

If you find comfort in your faith, turn to it now to help in your grief.

Some families we have helped have said that the loss of their child had damaged their religious beliefs, and that's okay.

In time, you may find that you are able to return to your faith.

The phrase "Time heals all wounds" may sound like a meaningless cliche, but the truth is that you will recover from this loss in time.

Initially, memories will hurt you to your core, even the good ones, but at some point that will begin to change, and you'll come to cherish those memories. They'll bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart.

It’s important to know that it's okay to take time off from grieving; to smile, laugh and enjoy life. This does not mean you're forgetting your child that would be impossible.

While your impulse may be to blame yourself for what's happened, resist the urge. There are simply things that happen in life and nature that cannot be controlled. Beating yourself up about what you could have, would have, should have done is counterproductive to healing.

For some parents, all they want to do is to sleep. Others find themselves pacing the floors at night and staring blankly at the TV. The death of a child takes an extreme toll on the body. Science has shown that a loss this big is similar to a major physical injury, so you absolutely need rest. Give in to the urge to sleep if you have it, otherwise, try to establish a night time routine that can help ease you into a good night's sleep.

Sometimes, in the days immediately following your child's death, relatives, and friends may bring you food so that you don't have to cook. Do your best to eat a little each day in order to keep up your strength.

It's difficult to deal with negative emotions and everyday activities when you're physically weak.

Eventually, you will return to making your own meals. Keep it simple. Bake a chicken or make a big pot of soup that can last for a few meals.

Whether or not you're finding it difficult to eat, try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Sip on a cup of soothing tea or keep a refillable water bottle with you. Dehydration is physically draining, and your body is already being drained enough.

While it's understandable that you may want to blot out the memory of your child's death, excessive use of alcohol and drugs can aggravate depression and create a whole new set of problems to deal with.

Some parents find that a sleep aid is a necessity, and that anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication helps them better cope. There are many varieties of these medications, and finding the right one that works best can be a daunting task, and one best undertaken with the help of your doctor. Work with your doctor to find what works for you and to make a plan for how long you'll be on medication.

It's not uncommon for friends to pull away during this grieving period. Some people simply do not know what to say, and those that are parents may feel uncomfortable with the reminder that the loss of a child is possible. If friends urge you to get over your grief you may want to distance yourself from them for a while whilst you deal with your grief.

Knowing that you're not alone in your grief and that others are facing similar challenges can be comforting. Bereavement support groups for parents are available in many communities. These groups offer a number of benefits including the chance to tell your story in a supportive, non-judgemental environment, a decreased feeling of isolation and people who validate and normalise each other's emotional reactions. We have been running a support group for the past 2 years and families have said to us that they have found them really useful.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month, a time to honour and remember babies who died during pregnancy or as newborns. Each of us will find our own way of honouring our angels, whether it is lighting a candle or releasing a balloon.

This month is a time when we could all reach out and support other families that we can see are struggling or someone who just needs a friend to talk to.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The death of a child not only changes a parent forever, it can also permanently alter a couple’s marriage/relationship. 
As individuals you have to deal with the confusing, and painful emotions. You also have to deal with the pain and totally overwhelming feelings that come with the death of a child. As a couple you then must deal with how each of you has been affected.
Initially it might feel like you have become strangers to each other. You are both trying to process what has happened and how to keep going day to day. Then it can feel like your relationship cannot be the same as it was before.
What you need to remember is it is the marriage/relationship of two people who have shared a very tragic loss. You are two people who have seen each other grieving, two people who are going through the hardest relationship struggle that couples can experience.
You will become new people, a new couple who have no idea if you can or should return to being your old selves. You are beginners at dealing with this kind of grief, and beginners at coming to terms, as a couple, with whatever is going on in your life as individuals and as a couple. Grief is likely to drain you for weeks, months, or even years and you may feel that you are in some kind of limbo, just trying to do the minimum to get along.
Your child’s death makes you feel different from most people you know. Although there are so many families that have lost a child, you may not know anyone. Often others are reluctant to come and comfort you as they are unsure what to say or do to help. Most will never have had a similar experience and may not feel comfortable approaching you.
Added to all this, grieving can make your relationship difficult. Feeling down so much, being needy and looking at everything in new ways after a child dies, it is easy for you and your spouse to see many negatives in each other. It may highlight negatives in each other and in your relationship that may have been ignored or were not present in the past. So in addition to dealing with the loss of a child, you may have to deal with how to change your relationship, or even with the possible loss of it.
If you can work together and grieve together, you may have success at reducing the arguing, blaming, and hurt feelings. You may have success dealing with communication difficulties, disappointments, and other issues that can undermine your relationship. And you may be able to offer support, help, and understanding for each other.
Parenting together is a shared journey, and dealing with a child’s death is as well. In bereavement, the journey will be hard, but it does not have to end in disaster.
After a child’s death, most couples worry that it will be very hard to stay together. Even if they do, they often worry about whether it will change everything.
I think bereaved couples have the same reasons most couples have for staying together—their history together, the emotional investments their relationship represents, the ways they depend on each other, and feelings of affection. But I also believe many bereaved parents are motivated by an additional factor. Their commitment is rooted in a sense that no one else knew the child as well or could understand as much what was lost when their child died.
You will also find that you and your partner will not grieve the same way. You are both very different in personality, upbringing, current responsibilities, the relationship you had with the child, and life experiences. Even if those things didn’t guarantee that you and your partner will mourn in your own way, women and men differ in numerous ways that will show up in how you deal with your child’s death.
In some couples, one partner believes how and when the other grieves is wrong, or one partner’s grief make the other feel uncomfortable. If over a long period, you let such differences upset you or if your differences lead to conflict, they can be a wedge that pushes the two of you far apart.
Everyone has different paces through grieving. 
One of you might have stronger feelings or a certain feeling soon after the loss, while the other might feel those things later. Whichever happens to you is the right way for you to grieve.
You might both move quickly into talking, reading, thinking, and feeling to deal with the death. However sometimes one of you might feel ready to talk while the other might not. Again, accepting the difference is so important.
One of you may try to be “strong” while the other is grieving intensely. Strong might mean doing necessary things around the house instead of focusing on grief or feeling that there was no point in doing things. Strong might mean not being swamped emotionally, or it might mean acting like things will be better. Lots of men feel the need to be strong for their partner, holding off their grief in order to be strong and supportive
Differences in outward emotions can lead to resentment in some couples. When one feels down and the other seems okay, each may resent the other. One might think, “How can you be so upbeat when our child is dead?” The other might think, “When you are down like this you drag me down as well”. They may also think “I am worried about you.” But these differences are to be expected and accepted.
There can also be misunderstanding on both sides. 
The partner who controls emotions less can resent the other for seeming not to care about the child. The partner who controls emotions more may not understand how much the one who is more emotional must be that way. In some couples there seems to be turn-taking in emotional control. When one partner is deep in grief, the other controls his or her emotions enough to do the everyday things. 
The main point is that you should expect and tolerate differences between you and your partner. Doing so is not likely to make the grieving process any easier. However, it should help you and your partner to maintain a stronger relationship as you deal with the death of your child.
Some couples have no serious problems after their child’s death. But other couples, even years later, struggle to build back their relationship. For some, serious difficulties never arise in dealing with their child’s death. But for others, there are real struggles.
People learn and change. 
You can find things in yourselves that can change you and your relationship. Together you can get your relationship back on track.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

We know from our own experiences how important having memorial things for your baby or child are. They give you the opportunity to make memories together with other family members and give you something/somewhere that you can go to whenever you want to. A family that get to take their child home can go away and make many many memories over the years together and can sit and share them whenever they want to.A family that has to leave the hospital with empty arms are not able to make any future memories together, the memories they managed to share in those brief but important days after their baby's/child's death are the only ones they will have.When you lose a baby or child, whether it through miscarriage, stillbirth, shortly after birth or during early childhood the grief is unimaginable. This can be compounded by not having something or somewhere to go to grieve your child. There is no typical way to commemorate these children and no socially acceptable way to grieve. Parents can feel confused and alone in their sorrow.As a family we were driven by a strong desire to do something to remember Charlie. We all had our own ideas of what we wanted to do and over the years we have all added more and more things to our memorial items. I always buy a new Christmas tree bauble every year, most of the family have had tattoo's in Charlie' honour and we have all found many different things. 

Finding your way to memorialise your child can bring some comfort.The thing many families struggle with is not being able to take any new photographs as your child changes and grows. This makes the pictures you took at the hospital so precious and being able to put them onto canvas or have them framed beautifully can help with the memory making.There are now charities that will come along to the hospital and take pictures for you. They are very discrete and are able to get photos that will be so important for the family.Some families I have spoken with have had the pictures they took put into a video with special songs playing along with some video footage of their child. Whilst it is very emotional to watch it can bring such comfort to them.Other families have told me how they sent out cards letting their friends and family know what has happened. Whilst this may sound strange it can help the family by not constantly having to be asked what has happened.A lot of people I have met have had tattoo's to honour their child, many having their footprints or date of birth along with a poem or a piece of writing they have found comforting. I have a few tattoo's over the years in memory of family I have lost and am proud to show them off and talk about them.

Jewellery is another way a lot of families choose to remember their child. There are so many companies that now do special memorial jewellery and will also place some of the ashes within so they can have their child with them at all times.I think this is such a lovely thing to have and brings so much comfort and love to bereaved families.Some families who lost their child through miscarriage can often feel forgotten as they will not always have been able to take pictures or have any ashes to place anywhere. They still need to be able to grieve and desperately need something to help them honour their child. As a charity we understand how important a memorial gift can be and this is what made us start having memorial gardens made to give to the families we support. They are all unique with no other one being exactly alike. Recently we have delivered quite a few to families and everyone of them has said how nice it is to have something just for their child. Regardless of how grieving parents acknowledge their loss, finding a concrete or symbolic action that is meaningful to their family can help with the healing process and bring comfort over time. We provide our memorial gardens for free to the families we support. We fund them by having a Just Giving campaign that donations can be made to to enable us to keep giving them out to bereaved parents and families.…/charlies-a…/memorialgardengifts