I help ease the heartbreak
When parents lose a child, my casts give them some solace
THE loss of a baby is devastating for parents but having a life-size memento of their hand or foot can help ease the pain.
The process of making three-dimensional replicas of body parts is known as “casting” and has been part of my life for 10 years.
I learned how to do it when we lived in a remote area and I wanted to cast my newborn son.
I couldn’t find anyone to do it for me so I taught myself and now operate Cast Forever on the Sunshine Coast.
Using a safe and natural seaweed extract-based alginate, we mix up a rubber-like gel into which we place the hand or foot we are casting.
‘‘ I AM MOTIVATED BY BEING ABLE TO GIVE THEIR PARENTS THE CHANCE TO TAKE SOMETHING HOME, WHEN THEY CAN’T TAKE THEIR CHILD.
When this becomes firm, we pop out the hand or foot and the moulds are made into casts using a special kind of stone which is harder and more robust than plaster.
These are then sanded and detailed before being carefully hand-painted, mounted and framed.
Whether I am casting tiny newborn babies or the older people who would like to capture the beauty of ageing, I am completely in love with every person I meet as each of them is so unique and special.
Every one of them has a fascinating story and they are always so eager to tell it to me – whether it be their birthing stories, the stories of their pregnancies or even the stories of different sleeping techniques they use with their little ones.
I have two beautiful little boys who are the world to me and when I look at them I thank the universe about how blessed I am to have them in my life.
This is driven home to me when I am asked to do bereavement jobs for parents who have lost a child – a service I offer for free.
I have attended to more than 100 bereavement jobs, ranging from very tiny stillborn babies to SIDS death babies and children tragically killed in accidents.
Each of these babies is an angel to me and I am motivated by being able to give their parents the chance to take something home, when they can’t take their child.
Many of these families have told me the keepsakes are an incredible help in their healing process.
I have also been asked to take casts in palliative care units. I did one of a man who was dying from cancer and the casts enabled his family to be able to hold his hand after his death. I would ultimately like to set up a charity to help pay to keep this bereavement service going.
I love what I do and feel completely blessed that I can do this for people. Giving is truly greater than receiving.
I am fortunate enough to do a job that I love every single day.
If you would like to know more about Cast Forever, you can visit my website www.castforever.com.au.
HEALING: Holly Neilson knows how lucky she is to have two beautiful boys and hopes her casts help grieving parents who have lost a child.