“All pain you experience throughout your life will inevitably impact you in one way or another. You can either allow it to impede you and stop you in your tracks, or to guide your path and drive you forward. Which it is all depends on how you choose to carry it.” Beau Taplin
My world collapsed in that very moment they told me that my pregnancy was ectopic. I too, now felt that same crushing pain of my angel baby families. I somehow found strength, a bravery and compassion that fuelled me to improve the services offered to bereaved parents. I campaigned for the local councils to offer free cremation services to infants and I assisted in the set up of a support group for grieving parents and all those affected by child loss. I began attending hospitals and offering talks to midwives about services which Co-op Funeralcare offer to grieving families and how we can all work together to extend comfort and guidance to these families. It is crucial that we allow parents the time to create memories with their babies and to provide the resources and support required. We understand that the parent’s future grief course may be significantly altered by our support in responding to their requests.
I was very grateful to receive 2 cuddle cots at the funeral home and offered to loan these and to hospitals, families and other funeral directors should they ever request. I will attend at their convenience and set up the cot for them. This is a service I offer personally which allows parents to have additional and often essential time with their baby no matter what funeral arrangements have been made.
I have been nominated for this award by the grieving parents of Ella Marie. To know that they have found it within their broken hearts to put me forward for such an award is my truest honour. I met Ella’s mummy and daddy when I attended their home with a cuddle cot and remember seeing Ella for the first time; she was wrapped preciously in pink. I commented on how beautiful she looked and admired the personalised items they had bought for her. All those tiny baby items and though tful gifts that had suddenly been denied appreciation by others were so important to me because I knew they were cherished by mummy and daddy. They were bought with love and that’s what I expressed admiration for the most. My colleague and I wore pink ties on the day of the funeral as a tribute to Ella. As with all my families I was willing to listen and be accommodating to their needs; to offer help, guidance and flexibility throughout. Some family members were unable to attend so I fulfilled my role as funeral director on the day as well as DJ and videographer so that all the family could be included in Ella’s farewell service. Together we designed bespoke service sheets that incorporated all things pink and meaningful, we also personalised Ella’s coffin so that it was unique and special. I do my upmost to show attention to detail in all areas of my role; I offer clarity and reassurance to parents with regards to funeral arrangements whilst also being a friendly shoulder whenever they may need it. I sometimes message parents at special times of the year just to offer my continued support and to remind them that they are in my thoughts.
My aspirations of becoming a funeral director began in my teenage years. I knew that caring for and supporting families and their loved ones was a role meant for me. My job involves great sadness and heartache but people feel this pain because they have loved someone so much, therefore, I am surrounded by love every day, albeit in its most raw form. I am there to offer warmth, compassion and understanding to those who grieve. I will guide them through funeral arrangements as well as creating memories and saying goodbye in a way that is comforting to them.
I plan to continue to raise awareness of child loss and to talk about our babies. We all face the silence in our homes, the silence in our hearts and we know the silence we can be greeted with when we tell people who do not understand – Let’s break that silence. I want to encourage people to share their babies memories, their love and for us to stand together through even our darkest of days.
What Others Have Said
Our bereavement midwife told us about Belle who had offered to provide a cold cot, which had been donated by another bereaved family. We had never heard of a funeral director offering this service before. We were so grateful to use the cot as it meant we could spend time with Ella at home, something that we hadn’t been able to do with Amelie. Belle was so lovely and showed such compassion and understanding. She has the perfect balance between professional, helpful and supportive. Belle arrived at our house with the cold cot, and also a beautiful knitted pink blanket, angel pin and a memory box, provided by Friends of Serenity (an AMAZING charity). We were very touched by Belle’s thoughtfulness and attention to detail. She was there to walk us through every step of the funeral process. She was like a very supportive friend as well as a professional funeral director. She even re-arranged at short notice to return the cold cot when we wanted to have more time with Ella. Nothing was too much trouble and she totally “got” that this was our only chance to make memories with Ella outside of the womb. We also remember how lovely she was about Ella, saying how snuggly wrapped up she was and admiring things we had bought for her. These were so lovely for us to hear. We absolutely hated leaving Ella at the funeral home, but we knew she was in safe hands with Belle, she even took a picture of Ella before the coffin was closed on the day of the funeral. It might seem a small thing but it really helped, knowing that Ella and her special treasures, looked the same as when we had to say goodbye the night before. Belle remained so flexible throughout, always willing to listen to us, she would go out of her way to accommodate us. Even on the day of the funeral, Belle and her colleague especially wore baby pink ties for Ella which was a lovely touch. I am struggling to put it all into words but Belle really went above and beyond. We will always remember the difference she made to us as a family, during the absolute worst of times (for the second time). We are sure that she will have made a positive difference to so many other families too.