In 2021 in the UK, for every 270 families whose babies lived beyond their first year, there was one who didn’t.
There is nothing that can be done to fix the loss these families face, but Demelza is working hard to ensure that those who have lost their babies, or whose babies are diagnosed with serious or life-limiting condition, receive the practical and emotional support they need to go on.
Today, Demelza is supporting 79 families who have experienced the death of a baby under one year of age. The number of families supported has increased by nearly 40% in the last five years, showing the need that exists for families to share their experience and to obtain support. To help Demelza families navigate grief and loss, in the last year we have offered:
Over 40 drop-in cafes
Over 20 online creative group sessions where families have the opportunity to explore emotions, through writing and crafting
A ‘Wave of Light’ event, as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week
Annual candlelight remembrance events
A Social Sunday event
Annual Snowdrop and summer remembrance events
Each of these services has an aim of connecting families; with themselves, with each other, with the support we offer and with other families who understand the unimaginable pain that the death of a baby can bring.
Demelza is also able to offer the use of their bereavement suites at our hospices in Eltham or Sittingbourne, or a bereavement cot in the home, so that families are able to have the time and space to be with their child in peace. We know how important it is for families to be able to share their experiences, to have opportunities to speak their child's name and to not feel alone.
“Vicky helped us to bathe Mohammed Yahya that one last time. She knew that our Muslim faith requires the funeral to take place within 24 hours – and she had already been in touch with a Muslim funeral director, and they invited our Imam to come and pray with us. But the thing we remember is that, after his bath, Vicky had a white cloth ready to wrap around our son’s body, as is custom in our faith. The care, the attention to detail – even after his life – was utterly extraordinary.
We had our last night together at Demelza. Vicky gave us a special ‘cuddle cot’ (which can be chilled) and it meant we could spend the night with Mohammed Yahya. After his funeral, we have stayed in touch with Demelza – and they have let us know that they are still there for us, for the twins as well, for as long as we need them.
Without Demelza’s care, we would have been broken. Thanks to them, we had three wonderful, challenging, precious months with our son. Demelza helped us to make Mohammed Yahya’s life as rich and as meaningful as possible."
Demelza is also working to raise awareness internally of pregnancy loss and baby loss and to create a supportive workplace culture. Jo Burton, Therapeutic and Bereavement Lead, offers both general bereavement training for colleagues, as well as offering specialist baby loss awareness training for Demelza’s wellbeing champions across the organisation.
“People can often struggle to know what to say when someone is grieving, especially when the loss is that of a baby. It is a privilege to be able to support families through Demelza to talk about their grief and how it can be managed, as well as supporting colleagues at Demelza to break down the stigma around pregnancy and baby loss. It can be incredibly daunting to adjust to life, so being able to talk to colleagues and have understanding and support can make a huge difference. It can really help individuals to feel less alone in what can be a difficult and isolating time.”
Recommended resources for baby loss:
Sands | Saving babies' lives. Supporting bereaved families.
Support for Parents - Abigail's (abigailsfootsteps.co.uk)
Support for you – Baby Loss Awareness Week (babyloss-awareness.org)