Around 700 parents experience the loss of a baby each day in the UK, and a charity is aiming to support them through the ‘taboo nature’ of loss with special services.
The Mariposa Trust will host its 85th ‘saying goodbye’ service this Saturday at 7.30pm at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.
The charity provides the services of remembrance across the UK and internationally for those who have experienced or been affected by baby loss, whether during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.
These services allow parents, and their extended family and friends to acknowledge and remember each child they have lost.
Emily, a parent who was able to say goodbye through a service, said: “With early miscarriages, such as I had, it is too easy for them to pass by without anyone knowing, without the typical dignity, respect and public ceremony that is paid when people die.
“If you miscarry early, your children become like quiet secrets that disappear in a moment. But that is not how I related to them.
“It is that abstractness that has made miscarriage so very hard to deal with for me. Not to know if I was ‘allowed’ to be bereaved.
“I was able to give them the public service that they deserved, I was able, with your help to do my best by them, and mark their lives in a spectacular cathedral, with beautiful music, prayers, and most of all love.”
One of the many attendees of a past service, said: “The service gave me the time and space to formally recognise all of my babies and the experience of being with people who just knew how it felt was a real strength.
“The loss of a baby by miscarriage is never formally recognised by ceremony – no funeral service is held, no date is noted, no names are recorded.
“As I stood with other parents and proudly rang the bell for my 14 babies, I felt unbearable sadness but also a great privilege in being able to properly celebrate their existence. For the first time ever I felt my tears of grief, loss and love were allowed, shared and understood.”
Zoe Clark-Coates who founded and runs the charity with husband Andy, commented: “People often feel isolated, and due to the taboo nature of loss, their pain and grief is seldom discussed or properly acknowledged.
“The services give people the opportunity to publicly remember and commemorate their losses, which is often the first time they have been able to do so.”
The services are held in cathedrals and similar venues but are open to anyone of any faith or no faith.
Individuals and couples who have been through loss, and their extended family and friends, are welcome.
Children are also welcome to attend, and there is no need to pre-book.