I was bereaved through miscarriage
When I had a miscarriage at 9 wks I felt as though I shouldn't grieve as I hadn't been far on in my pregnancy. I was distraught and Joy helped me give myself permission to get upset and accept my feelings as valid. When it happened a second time I felt as if I would never have my longed for child and that I was to blame. Again I was supported and encouraged to grieve properly and allow myself to heal. The service was invaluable to me and I want other people to be able to benefit as I did.
My world fell apart when my son died through cot death
Almost ten years ago my life was irrevocably altered by the sudden death of my son through cot death. I had uprooted my home and given up my career in order to give my first child the very best upbringing I could. To lose him was utterly devastating to me and my family and I cannot describe how much his death rocked the very foundations of my entire life and beliefs.
During the first few weeks following his death, I thought I would eventually come to terms with my loss. However as time went on, I realised that I did not feel comfortable talking about him, about his death and able to grieve for him, as I felt I was upsetting my family and friends each time I did so. I started to have panic attacks, felt uneasy about leaving the house, and was generally feeling unable to cope. Around the same time, there was a lot of adverse media speculation about cot death, and I felt continually judged by strangers.
I approached my GP, who contacted the hospital support service for bereaved parents for me. The counsellor then called round to see me at my home, on a weekly basis, for almost a year. The service she offered helped me through an awful time in my life. I felt able to talk, cry, and laugh without being judged for doing so. The support she provided helped me to understand that what I was feeling was entirely normal, and that it was okay. In a sense, she allowed me to grieve, and in time I have learned to move on.
If a bereavement counselling service had not been available to me at that time, I have no doubt that my mental health would have severely suffered along with the relationships I have with my family and friends. As I have a personal history of depression, and a family history of suicide, there is also the potential there for a much worse outcome. I managed to avoid medication, and learned some coping strategies from my counsellor to help me to reach a new normality.
I made contact again with the counsellor during the diagnosis of a severe and fatal condition of an unborn child. She helped me through the whole situation, listened to me whilst I vented my anger and frustration at my situation, and came to visit me in hospital when I had my pregnancy terminated. I had no hesitation in calling her, as I knew that she would listen to me without judging me, and that given my history, would understand my feelings and help me to rationalise them.
When our teenage son died
When our world fell apart with the death of our 16 year old son, the Bereavement Service was like a lifeline. It helped us to come to terms with our loss due to the Professional Counsellor we had and to learn to carry on with life and cope with our grief. I only have respect and praise for such people and I hope we can help continue counselling for the unfortunate parents and families that may need such help in the future.
A Dad's Story - My twin son died
As I pulled up in the car park there was the usual chaos of not enough parking spaces and the inevitable jostling of cars that ensued. My mobile phone rang and it was my Mum. "Your babies are here, they were born at half past two." I started to cry, I had faithfully promised my wife that I would be there when the boys were born and that I would be there to hold her hand throughout. She had been scared of giving birth all of the way through her pregnancy. "I'm in the car park!" I told Mum, "You need to come in now!" she replied. I had nowhere to park, I wanted to get out and physically move one of these idiots in my way. "There is a nurse here that says that you can park in the consultants' car park." Mum said over the phone. I was quickly parked and rushed through to where my Mum was stood looking very worried. She had obviously been crying.
I was told that my wife was ok and so was Alex but there was a problem with Daniel. The reason for the emergency caesarean was that the scan that morning had identified fluid on his lungs and some in his stomach. I was to learn later that this is called foetal distress. He needed to be delivered quickly to try and save him. They had waited as long as possible for me. At one point my Mum was even dressed and ready to go into the operating theatre, but my wife needed a general anaesthetic after three attempts at an epidural failed to work. She had to go in alone, for that I will never forgive myself. I should have been there to hold her hand, I failed as a husband at one of the key moments in her life, and I simply was not there.
I spoke to a nurse about Daniel who said that they were trying to resuscitate him, but it was not looking good. Somebody made me a cup of tea. I cannot now believe that my wife, the woman who had saved me from loneliness and who had become my best friend had just undergone major surgery, my two sons were in a neonatal ward and one was fighting hard for his life and I drank a cup of tea as I waited, useless, a pathetic victim of the events surrounding me. Suddenly the paediatric consultant came into the room and told me to come upstairs to the neonatal ward. Daniel was not going to make it; he was dying as we rushed up the stairs. I was ushered to a seat and handed Daniel. As I looked down he took his last gasp, he had been in my arms for seconds, and it was almost as though he had been waiting for me to get there. Maybe he needed to be in his Dad's arms before he left. Whatever the reason he had gone, he had died right there in my arms.
I cried, in fact I felt loss fully for the first time in my life. It felt as though someone was trying to crush my soul. I was being ripped apart from the inside. This was my child, my son who I had so many plans and hopes for and he was dead. He had lived for an hour and a half; just an hour and a half of struggling existence fighting for what the rest of us take for granted. He had lost his fight and there he was, Daniel, my boy, the one who always stuck his head under my wife's ribs at night. I had felt his kicks inside her, watched him wriggle on scans. This whole thing did not seem real. I was taken into a side room where I continued to howl. I wanted to change places with him, give him what I had so that he had chance to live, to experience all the greatness of being alive. My Mum came into the room, but I did not acknowledge her. There was a nurse around as well but I did not care.
I always thought that I had learned to deal with death. Years ago I had been a member of a mountain rescue team and I had seen and dealt with the aftermath of some sad and unpleasant incidents. We had always used a mixture of humour and professionalism to deal with it all. This was so fundamentally different. A part of me had literally died, and there he was, so small, so fragile and I could not do anything to save him. I had failed twice in one day. Failed so badly that it will haunt me for the rest of my life, I will never be able to atone for these failures. I had not been there for my wife and I could not do anything to save my son's life.
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