Moth­ers light can­dles to re­mem­ber in­fant chil­dren

▶ Poignant ‘chain of light’ event on Dubai beach will help fam­i­lies to heal

The National - News - - NEWS EMIRATES - RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM

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

Vic­tor Besa / The Na­tional

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

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