This week is a week that, for many, will be filled with sadness. International Baby Loss Awareness Week is a time for parents who have lost their children during pregnancy, birth or in those first few moments of life, to remember them and for all parents, to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their grief.
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The death of a child affects the whole family and below is a letter written from a sister, to her lost brother.
"To My Other Little Brother,
I was 8 when you were born and I was so excited to be a big sister again but today I am here and you are not.
You were one of the 4,000 babies in the UK who, every year, don’t make it through birth.
What makes this letter even more unusual is that I am 35 and you would have been 27 and I still think about you, even though I never knew you.
You are still a part of our family, you are my little brother and I, along with our brother and sister, still think of you often. Mum and Dad were so excited to be expanding the family and being 8 I was very excited about being a big sister for the second time, while our sister was getting her head around not being the baby of the family any more.
I know that our parents were overjoyed at your imminent arrival. I can imagine them, now having had children of my own, going to the scans bringing the pictures home to show us, getting the nursery ready, going to antenatal classes, thinking about names and excitedly awaiting your arrival, the latest addition to our little family. Then came that extra scan, the day when everything was no longer ok. Then came the disbelief, the anger, the fear the guilt, the denial. Then came the horror. Not only at the loss of you but also the prospect of sill having to go through labour, to bring you into this world, only to know that they would never hear you cry.
Then came the trauma of having to tell us that you weren’t coming home. Answering the blunt and crass questions that children of 8 and 6 would have asked.
I can’t accurately remember most of that time or being aware of their grief, but I do have an understanding now, of the unending sadness that our parents went through every day. How? Well firstly because I only found out about your entry to the world when I was 19, at University, in Edinburgh. Dad came to stay and we went out for some father- daughter bonding involving large quantities of red wine and that was the first time I saw him cry. I don’t know why that night, it wasn’t the booze (that is a fairly regular fixture in our household, so nothing unusual!), so I have come to think that after 11 years, all that pent up pain and sadness was too much and in one night it all came tumbling out.
Up until then I had thought that you were a miscarriage.
He told me that he has a photo of you in his desk at work and that you are buried near to where they live, he says good morning to you most days as he passes.
Their grief was not especially public, as children we were aware of what had happened but our little life of school, swimming and play dates continued. We noticed that Mum and Dad were very quiet and we were taken to see Mum in hospital, even though we knew she wasn’t ill, the bump had just gone.
The thing that has never failed to amaze me, especially since having my own children, is how they managed to go on and ensure that our childhood was relatively un-touched by their acute loss. We were oblivious to what they were going through.
I am pleased to say that in 1990 Mum fell pregnant again and my amazing little brother came into the world.
In order to help his safe arrival Mum was in hospital for about 6 months on bed rest which meant we had a terrifying Au Pair called Dragona and lived off Kettle Crisps and Haagen Dazs all of which was small sacrifice, as it meant he arrived safe and well.
I often think that it is because of you, that Mum and Dad were and are, such amazing parents. They understand how precious life is and what an amazing thing it is to be a parent – even the sleep depravation and endless nappies!
As such, they were and continue to be, the best parents we could hope for and are equally great grandparents now too!
So today, in this week of rememberance, I will be thinking about you and our wonderful parents.
You are not here but you will always be a big part of our family, who we think of often and love from afar.
Your not so little, Sis x"
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