Friday, 30 June 2017

Today was the first event hosted by Touchstone raising money for our charity.

They are also a charity but each year they chose another cause to raise funds for and we are the one they have chosen.

They have organised two events the first being an afternoon of fun and entertainment at their base near St James hospital in Leeds. They have a Twitter account and looking at the pictures and videos they have uploaded it was a great afternoon of fun and laughter.

They managed to raise an amazing £298.53.

Thank You doesn't convey enough how we feel about the effort they are putting into their events to raise money for us and the families we support.

Their next event is going to take place on the 8th July at Roundhay Park, Leeds. They will be doing a sponsored walk with many of them completing it in fancy dress. We will be going along to lend our support and cheer them on. Please come along to show your support an say hello.

This year we are seeing a lot of people approach us wanting to raise money for us. As well as giving us a little respite into the organising of events, which can be very stressful (lol), it also shows us how much we have come on and developed as a charity.

Some of the people are organising events as a way of showing their support for a family member or a friend who have lost a baby or child and others are families that we have worked with and given them help and support.

It makes us feel very proud of all we have achieved in a relatively short period of time and it also makes us see how amazing it is what Charlie has achieved in his short but precious life. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

What can you possibly say to parents who have lost a baby or child without it sounding wrong? What can you do to try and help them?
This is something we hear a lot from friends or family members of a family who have lost their baby or child.
No one is an expert when it comes to this 'out of the natural order of things' tragedy. The grief a bereaved parent feels is felt so deep within and is individually expressed. Everybody responds in different and unique ways.
As a bereaved family ourselves, we feel deep compassion for any parent who loses a baby or child of any age.
We can understand the chaos and confusion, that the families are feeling. We know that all-consuming pain and the longing that it didn't happen.
But what can you say to someone who has lost a child? 
"I am so sorry," is a start.
 And sometimes this is probably all that is needed to be  said.
There are many things that people can do. Some are just very simple gestures but they can mean so much to the family and shows love and empathy for their current situation. 
Initially it may be that you are there for them whilst they sit and cry, being with someone can make them feel safer in their grief. Some days you may even sit and cry with them, and this is ok, it shows you care and feel the loss.
Another way you can help is by making extra meals when you are cooking and taking them round. Whilst they are in these early days of grief eating and cooking is easily forgotten. Time stands still and days blend into each other. On many days they will not want to get out of bed, much less shop, cook and take care of themselves.
Other ways to help can be to take over simple chores that need doing like mowing the lawn, getting the shopping or putting the bins out, again these things come way down on their list of priorities and often won't even come into their mind. 
Making regular visits to check in with them can be really beneficial and can make them feel supported.  Sometimes being there to give them a hug and holding them as they cry is all that is needed. Grief can feel very lonely and your continued visits really can make a difference.
And above all, the most important thing people can do is to remember their child and say their name. This could be remembering birthdays and anniversaries, taking little memorial gifts for their house or garden or sharing memories.
A lot of friends or family will say "I just can't imagine ..." No family can ever imagine this path for their lives either. But now it has happened they need you to be able to try to imagine. Sitting quietly and listening as they open up to you about what has happened and trying to help them feel less alone.
I read this quote earlier and I think it is so true,
 "Silence is sometimes the best thing to do, holding a hand, hugging somebody. There are no words that explain or would make any difference to the suffering. Sometimes people say, 'I don't know what to say to these people.' You know, I say don't say anything. Just hold their hand. Hold them, hug them and just stay around for an hour or so in silence and just be there. That's what is needed at times like this ..."
Most bereaved families will need this for the rest of their lives.  The people surrounding them may recover from the deaths of their children but the bereaved family will never fully recover. 
If you know a family that is trying to keep going after the loss of their baby or child, maybe this weekend pop round to see how they are, take a meal round or just make them a cup of tea and sit with them for a while.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Through our work we are privileged to meet and work with some of the most amazingly strong families going the most difficult time in their lives. We are always taken aback by how they are able to keep putting one foot in front of the other whilst feeling like their hearts are broken. 

Every family we have met have all got one thing in common, the strength to keep going and spending their lives remembering and honouring the child they lost. 

The death of a baby/child whether expected or unexpected is the most devastating thing to happen to a parent. 

From the moment you find out you are pregnant you start to plan how this little life will affect your lives. You start to dream of what your child will become, who they will look like and what they will achieve. To have this taken from you leaves a gap that can never be filled. 

Whilst you may go on to have other children this gap will always be there. 

Following the death of a baby it is really common for parents to blame themselves and think that they must have done something wrong. They can feel that if they had done something different the outcome might be different. The reality is that it is extremely unlikely that anything you did or didn't do would have changed the outcome.  

Most of the parents we have met or talked to say that they found spending time with their child following the death very helpful in the grieving process. 
To be able to spend time as a family, caring for your child can make it easier to mourn the loss. 
A lot of hospitals have special bereavement units attached to the delivery suite where couples and families can stay following the birth and death. There are also bereavement midwives that can provide support throughout the birth and days to follow. Not every hospital within the UK has a bereavement midwife but this is slowly improving.

The time spent in the bereavement suite is so important in helping you to get to know your child, spend time holding them and taking as many photographs as you want. The midwives will support you through this time and will spend time with you and your child giving you the opportunity to bathe them and dress them. They will also take your child’s foot and hand prints for you and take a lock of your baby’s hair to place in a memory box. 

Following the loss your body is still experiencing all the things a new mum goes through which can cause a lot of distress. You will still experience the tiredness and the production of breast milk. In hospital you may be given medication to help with the production of milk but you will still suffer with breast tenderness. All of these are a constant reminder to you of your loss. 

Remember to take your time to recover, don’t rush it. 

Everyone heals at a different rate and you have to heal both emotionally and physically. 

Remember to take time as a couple to grieve together.

Our goal has always been to make sure that a bereaved family is given the support and help they want and need to help them deal with their loss. Over the last 4 years we have been actively supporting many families and this number is increasing day after day.

It is heartbreaking knowing that the reason we are kept busy is that another family has joined our world of child and baby loss. It is something none of us would ever want to join or even imagine we would join but through it we have made some life long friends and colleagues. 

Being a bereaved family is hard work but if you have somewhere to go or someone to talk to it can take away some of the burden you carry. 
This is what we hope Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation is able to offer to families and we will continue to do so for many more years. 

Friday, 9 June 2017

As the grandparent of a grandchild in heaven I understand how difficult it can be to experience the death of a grandchild. The grandparent/grandchild relationship is a very special one. When a grandchild dies, a grandparent grieves. They grieve not only for their grandchild, but also for the grief of the bereaved parents. 

For some grandparents, the hardest part is a sense of helplessness.

They feel the pain that the child’s parents suffer, but their own grief may also be very intense. When a child dies, both the parents and grandparents lose a big part of their present and their future. 

Grief is very individual, a bereaved grandmother can often grieve differently than the grandfather and this difference can sometimes create a tension between them. This does not mean that one of them is right and the other wrong. They are both struggling to cope with their own grief as well as supporting the rest of the family. 

There is not one right way to grieve.

Knowing what usually happens in grief can help bereaved grandparents as they grieve. It can also help them as they try to understand their child’s grief and as healing slowly occurs for all.

Grief is said to have several stages. However, most bereaved grandparents do not grieve step by step. 

Grief is disorderly and irrational.

At the time of the death of a loved one, there is a protective numbness. Even though they know that the loved one has died, their minds want to deny it. They may find themselves talking of the grandchild as if the child were still alive. 

The ache in the chest can become a constant companion. As the denial lessens, grandparents begin to feel great hurt and frustration. This could lead to anger directed at others and at themselves. 
Guilt, real or imagined, is always there with the recurring “What ifs?” “Why didn’t I?”. As they try to resolve their guilt feelings, anger often returns in full force. 
Grandparents may experience all of this twice, Once for the grandchild who died, and then for the parents who have their own guilt, anger and pain to cope with. Guilt may occur because they live on, while the young one has died. This is not the natural order of life and can be very difficult to accept and understand.

Sometimes depression is a very real part of grief. It may be overwhelming to bereaved grandparents who may fear that they are going crazy. Bereaved grandparents also worry about the emotional well being of their grieving child.

Time is a slow healer during grief, which lasts much longer than our society is yet to admit or understand. Many families are pressured into feeling 'normal' again, and 'get back to normality'.

Talking with those who have had the same experience can be really useful. Grandparents can help other grandparents in this way by sharing experiences and helping each other to realise that what they have been feeling is totally normal. Some find help in reading about grief and the experiences of others, particularly of grandparents. They may be helped in dealing with their children’s grief by reading about parental grief itself. Some draw comfort and strength from their religious faith, although that faith may be severely tested. 

Those who grieve are tired much of the time. 

Men may have grown up with the tradition that men don’t cry, although they know that this is not true in their private moments. They may feel that they must remain composed so that they can support their wives and children in their grief. 

The family may feel that grandparents are not grieving, although in reality they are feeling the same doubt, guilt, anger and despair as others. Tears have healing properties and should not be suppressed by grandparents since they are a part of grief.

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of grief is the question that grandparents/parents continually face: Why? 
Friends try to comfort with answers but for the bereaved, no answer exists.  

Bereaved grandparents and parents will be told that they must get back to normal. But what is now normal for them will never be the same as it was before the child’s death. Life without that child must go on and as healing occurs, it will. 
Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries including that of the child’s death, may be stressful times. Allow time and space for your own emotional needs.
There will be a deeper appreciation for those children and grandchildren who are around. 
There will be a greater understanding of others who experience similar loss. 
Many grandparents become more compassionate because of the tragic event that has touched their lives. 

Healing will help the bereaved accept the new life which has been forced upon them.

Grief is the price we pay for loving. Grandparents love both the dead grandchild and the grieving parents. As they grieve and try to understand the parents, healing will occur.  Although they retain scars, grandparents will recall the happy times they once shared with their children and their grandchildren and not just the tragedy and sense of loss that they have come to know.  

We all have to find our own path through grief.

But we do not have to walk it alone.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Many people really want to help a friend or family member who is experiencing a loss or bereavement but words often fail them, often leaving them struggling for the right thing to say. Some people are 
so afraid to say or do the wrong thing that they choose to do nothing
at all. Doing nothing at all is an option, but it’s not often a good one.

While there is no perfect way to respond or to support someone you
care about, here are some good rules.
You have a supporting role, in your friend’s grief. So many of the suggestions, advice and “help” given to the griever tells them they should be doing this differently, or feeling differently than they do. 
Grief is a very personal experience, and belongs entirely to the 
person experiencing it. You may think that you would do things differently if it had happened to you. We hope you don't get the 
chance to find out. This grief belongs to your friend, follow their 
It’s tempting to make statements about the past or the future when
your friend’s present life holds so much pain. You cannot know what
the future will be, for yourself or your friend, it may or may not be better “later.” That your friend’s life was good in the past is not a fair trade
for the pain of now. Stay present with your friend, even when the
present is full of pain.
It’s also tempting to make generalised statements about the situation
in an attempt to soothe your friend. You cannot know that your 
friend’s loved one is in a “better place.” These statements aren’t 
helpful. Stick with the truth: "this hurts. I love you. I’m here".
Your friend’s loss cannot be fixed or repaired or solved. The pain 
itself cannot be made better. Do not say anything that tries to fix the unfixable. It is a relief to have a friend who does not try to take the
pain away.
Being with someone in pain is not easy. You will have things come
up like stresses, questions, anger, fear, guilt. Your feelings will likely
be hurt. You may feel ignored and unappreciated. Your friend cannot show up for their part of the relationship very well. Please don’t take
it personally, and please don’t take it out on them. You will need to 
find someone else to lean on at this time. It’s important that you are supported while you support your friend. 
Do not say “Call me if you need anything,” because your friend will
not call. This won't be because they do not need, but because 
identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and then making a phone call to ask is way beyond their energy levels or 
capacity . Instead, make definite offers: “I will be there at 4 p.m. on Thursday,” or “I will stop by each morning on my way to work.” 
But remember be reliable.
The actual, heavy, real work of grieving is not something you can do, 
but you can lessen the burden of “normal” life requirements for your
friend. Are there recurring tasks or chores that you might do? Things
like walking the dog, bringing in the mail and offering to go to the
shops are all good choices. Support your friend in small, ordinary 
Depending on the circumstance, there may be difficult tasks that 
need tending to like packing and 
sorting of rooms. Offer your help and follow through with your 
offers. Follow your friend’s lead in these tasks. Your presence 
alongside them is powerful and important; words are often 
To the griever, the amount of people who want to show their support
can be seriously overwhelming. What is an intensely personal and private time can begin to feel like living in a fish bowl. There might 
be ways you can shield your friend by setting yourself up as the designated point person, the one who relays information to the 
outside world, or organizes well-wishers. 
You may find that other friends or family members ask you for information about your friend. You can normalize grief with 
responses like,”She has good moments and bad moments and will 
for quite some time. An loss changes every detail of your life.” If someone asks you about your friend a little further down the road, 
you might say things like, “Grief never really stops. It is something
you carry with you in different ways.
Above all, show your love. Show up. Say something. Do something.
Be willing to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened in your friend’s life. Be willing to not have any answers. Listen. Be there. 
Be present. Be a friend.