It has been said by many people that there is no death so sad than the death of a child, and it can happen to any couple, irrespective of their colour, class, or creed. This is a fact no matter what age the child is when it happens – be it a few weeks into pregnancy, at full term or even years later when a teenager or even an adult.

For the bereaved parents, the death can be devastating whether they are a young adult couple having lost their baby, or an older couple having lost their teen-age or adult child. It does not matter how recent, or long ago the death occurred – nothing can prepare you for when it happens! The pain, grief, and loneliness felt can be overwhelming to some parents, and the repercussions of such a traumatic event can also extend to families, and even friends and colleagues. However, you are not on your own – we are here to help!

While we all know that death is inevitable, no one expects their children to die before them, and no one expects their new baby to die. A stillbirth describes a baby born dead after 24 weeks of pregnancy, while one who has died within the first 28 days of life is known as a neonatal death. According to the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE) 2011, 17 babies die each day because of stillbirth (11) or neonatal death (6) in the UK. Of these, four die each week in N Ireland.

The death of a child affects both men and women. Just as every couple’s experience is different, so is the response of each parent to the death of their baby. This can cause problems as both parents may grieve differently, and can cause many unexpected physical and emotional reactions as their grieving can last longer than most people expect.

If you are a couple who have had a stillbirth or neonatal death and would like the opportunity to speak to others, or you know someone who has and want to know about how you can help, please get in touch with us.

Our support group has members who have firsthand experience of child loss through miscarriage to neonatal death and are willing to speak to you by phone or at a group meeting. Please contact Alan or Connie.

Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity)