Mothers light candles to remember infant children
▶ Poignant ‘chain of light’ event on Dubai beach will help families to heal
Mothers who lost infants or suffered miscarriages will come together for a remembrance event this week, where they will light candles on a Dubai beach in memory of their loved ones.
Two support groups, Little Angels Love – through Loss and Small and Mighty Babies, organised commemoration events in Dubai for yesterday and tomorrow.
Along with thousands across the world to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, a group will light candles at the Palace Beach on Al Sufouh Road in Dubai tomorrow. They will be part of a “chain of light” stretching across the globe for 24 hours.
“We will light floating candles together saying our babies’ names,” said Alexandra Sullivan, founder of the Little Angels support group, which meets every month.
“It is a very powerful message because no matter where we are in the world, we will light candles at exactly the same time, at 7pm, and it will be like a wave of light going through the world to remember the babies we have lost.”
In 2011, she lost twin boys in late pregnancy in Sweden. When she moved to Dubai that year, it became important to contact other women to let them know they were not alone. The group held a similar event last year.
Ms Sullivan said since information about the group was published in The National this year, mothers have come together to meet for coffee and keep in touch on social media networks.
“Now it’s really a community,” she said. “New families have heard that we are here.
“The mothers support each other in chats. This makes my heart extremely happy because I can see they are healing each other.
“It is important to able to highlight that our babies mattered and we are still mothers. The day is another reminder that we must talk.
“It is a physical gesture to highlight pregnancy and infant loss because it does happen quite a lot and it’s very much important to talk about it.”
There were 2.6 million stillbirths globally in 2015, more than 7,000 a day, data from the World Health Organisation showed.
Despite the high numbers, people are uncomfortable talking about infant loss. The Baby Loss Awareness Week that began on Tuesday aims to raise awareness and will end with the Wave of Light tomorrow.
Small and Mighty Babies held an Upon a Star Baby Loss Commemoration yesterday in Al Barari private gardens in Dubai.
The group gave small wooden stars engraved with the baby’s name or the words “baby girl/ boy” or “little star” to families who registered.
Families who have suffered loss and would like to be part of the gathering can still register on the group’s website or Facebook page for a wooden star that will be given to them later.
Experts say memories such as locks of hair, photographs or a baby’s prints give solace.
Lala Langtry White is a doula or birth companion, a non-medical supporter who helps mothers before during and after childbirth. She said the week was important to meet those families she supported by bringing babies into the world, or helping them to deal with loss.
“It gives them a chance to recognise their baby as the individual person that they are, to speak their name and hold something tangible related to their baby,” said Ms White, who works with the Small and Mighty group, supports women with high-risk pregnancies and is an experienced bereavement doula with grief training.
Ms White said mothers who lost their babies 20 years ago are able to give another perspective on living with loss.
“Parents can come with children who can talk about their sibling who passed away. It’s a chance for people who want a private moment of grief to have a moment of solace. There will also be professional support.
“It is an afternoon to remember with love. Of course there are tears – there always are when it comes to grieving a baby – but there is so much joy, togetherness and connection.
“We all know someone who has lost a baby. It’s about being able to recognise that this happened and remember each of those babies.”
To register for a wooden star, contact Small and Mighty Babies: www.smallandmightybabies.com/new-events/
For details on the Wave of Light, contact Little Angels: facebook.com/littleangelssupport/
It is important to able to highlight that our babies mattered and we are still mothers. The day is another reminder that we must talk ALEXANDRA SULLIVAN Founder of Little Angels – Love through Loss
Left to right, Aya Baker, Sarah Hall, Alexandra Sullivan and Melissa Lindley all lost babies. They are among a network of bereaved mothers in the UAE who support each other