The death of a baby around the time of birth is a major bereavement that can have life-long effects on parents and their families. Although nothing can change the past, Sands can help these parents. The booklet gives ideas on how to commemorate a baby who has died long ago, explains how to trace a baby’s grave or record of cremation, and advises how the charity can help.
It was only in the mid-1980s that the death of a baby around the time of birth began to be recognised as a major bereavement. Until then, a baby who was born dead at any gestation was swiftly removed from the labour ward: the parents were given no opportunity to see or hold their baby.
“When they rushed my baby out of the room, I assumed I’d given birth to a monster, something that was too awful to look at. That thought haunted me for many years. Now I realise that he probably looked perfect, just as if he was asleep.” Mum (quote from our new booklet)
There was also a general belief, both amongst professionals and society as a whole, that parents could, and should forget their babies, and that it was best to carry on as though nothing had happened.
“We wanted to talk about how we felt or express our grief, we were told not to dwell on things. So we just had to bottle them up and try to get on with our lives.” Mum (quote from our new booklet)
All this meant was that bereaved mothers and fathers often grieved in silence; reflected in the phenomenon of the ‘Silent Generation’. The general lack of acknowledgement, information and support reinforced the isolation and loss felt by bereaved parents in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and early 80s.
Therefore it’s not surprising that most did not receive the right care and support following the death of their baby.
This new 31 page booklet has been written with the help of bereaved parents and Sands is very grateful to everyone who has contributed.