Shared memories service offers support to bereaved families

Bradford Hospitals’ Charity are supporting a Shared Memories poignant memorial service to bring comfort to families affected by the loss of a baby or child.

The ‘Shared Memories Service’ has been arranged with the aim of helping bereaved parents overcome their grief and will take place at our Listening for Life Centre, Bradford Royal Infirmary, on Saturday, 2 December at 11am.

This will be a simple event to allow a quiet space to remember and reflect. It is a multi-faith service open to all – those with no faith allegiance and those with faith. It will be based around the much-loved children’s story, ‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs and will also feature appropriate music and poems.

Church of England and Free Church Chaplain, the Rev Joe Fielder – part of our multi-faith chaplaincy team – told Let’s Talk: “We know that the journey of grief can be slow and painful, and that the experience of loss can be wide – from early miscarriage to the death of a baby or a child.  But we also think that it can be helpful and supportive to gather and to remember with others, who have shared a similar heartache.

“Families will be able to talk to each other before and after the memorial event, and that support is as much a key part as the service itself.

“We welcome individuals, couples or families. We especially cater for siblings and will have a separate children’s programme for children aged 2-12 in an adjacent room. Their journey of grief also needs support.

The event will be run by a number of different staff from across maternity, paediatrics and chaplaincy. Members of staff who parents and families may have met during their visits to hospital will be on hand to offer support or to just simply say ‘hello’.”

Joe added that people were being encouraged to bring along any photographs or mementos of their child which would be placed on a special memory table.

This will be an ‘open’ non-religious service to which aIl are welcome – whether they are a person of faith or a person of no faith.  

Head of Chaplaincy, Mohammed Arshad told me: “Parents who have previously attended have commented on how helpful and caring it has been to see the familiar faces of staff who cared for them and their children.”

Comments from parents have included:

“Having this time and the opportunity to be with other parents who have been through the same was really important . . . .”

“We did not know what to expect but this was excellent; very touching, very caring, very special, very thoughtful . . .”

Muslim Chaplain, Maryam Riaz said: “The service gives parents and the wider family – siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as close family friends – the chance to share feelings and grieve together as they remember their babies and children, in a supportive environment.”

The service will end with a balloon release as a way of marking respect and love for those who have died.  Families who have lost children or babies at our hospitals in the past 24 months have been sent invitations to attend but anyone else who thinks they would benefit from the occasion is welcome to attend.  The event will last no more than 45 minutes plus time for refreshments. For further details, contact the Chaplaincy team on 01274 365819 or email [email protected]

Thank you again to all those involved for organising such a thoughtful and compassionate event.

In particular, I’d like to thank our Bradford Hospitals Charity which has kindly given funding for this event.

This has enabled us to provide food, drink and refreshments, craft materials and balloons and tags for the balloon release.