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Shared Memories Service may help bereaved parents

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A poignant memorial service to bring comfort to families affected by the loss of a baby or child is being organised by Bradford hospital staff.

The ‘Shared Memories Service’ has been arranged with the aim of helping bereaved parents overcome their grief and will take place at the Listening for Life Centre, Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on Saturday, 1 July at 11am.

This will be a simple event which will 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, and will be based around the children’s story book, ‘The Star That Fell’, by Karen Hayles and will also feature appropriate music and poems.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ Church of England and Free Church Chaplain, the Rev Joe Fielder – part of the Foundation Trust’s multi-faith chaplaincy team – said: “Being with others who have suffered similar heartache can be very supportive and enabling.

“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.

“In our time together, we will use a mixture of things like listening to the story as well as different pieces of music. As families arrive they will be offered stars on which to write the names of the babies and children they are remembering. These will then be placed at the front and each name read out.”

Memorial event

As in previous years, the memorial event has come about thanks to the Trust’s multi-faith chaplaincy team in collaboration with staff from various hospital departments including maternity, neonatal, and paediatrics, and many staff will be present on the day.

Head of Chaplaincy, Mohammed Arshad said: “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 piece of 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 careful, very special, very thoughtful . . .”

He added that a second Shared Memories Service was planned nearer to Christmas: “We have found that the service has meant so much to so many people and really helped them in their journey of grief, so this year we have decided to hold an extra service.”

Welcome to attend

As well as parents, other family members and friends who are also grieving are welcome to attend.

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.

“We welcome people to come as an individual, a couple or a family, and we especially cater for siblings and will have a separate children’s programme for children aged two to 12 in an adjacent room. Their journey of grief needs just as much support. The aim of the service is to try to help people with their grief, no matter how recent or old their loss.”

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 Bradford’s 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 dawn.arnison@bthft.nhs.uk