I help ease the heartbreak

When par­ents lose a child, my casts give them some so­lace

Sunshine Coast Daily - - YOUR WEEKEND - HOLLY NEILSON

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.

Photo: Contributed

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.

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