Nhs_choices Bthft Bradford Teaching HospitalsNHS Foundation Trust NHS Choices
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A poignant memorial service to bring comfort to families affected by the loss of a baby or child is being organised by Bradford hospital staff.

The ‘Shared Memories Service’ has been arranged with the aim of helping bereaved parents overcome their grief and will take place at the Listening for Life Centre, Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on Saturday, 2 December at 11am.

This will be a simple event which will allow a quiet space to remember and reflect. It is a multi-faith service open to all – those with faith and those with no faith - based around the much-loved children’s story, ‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs and will also feature appropriate music and poems.

Church of England and Free Church Chaplain, the Rev Joe Fielder, part of the Foundation Trust’s multi-faith chaplaincy team, said: “We know that the journey of grief can be slow and painful, and that the experience of loss can be wide – from early miscarriage to the death of a baby or a child. But we also think that it can be helpful and supportive to gather and to remember with others, who have shared a similar heartache.

“Families will be able to talk to each other before and after the memorial event, and that support is as much a key part as the service itself.

Separate children’s programme

“We welcome individuals, couples or families. We especially cater for siblings and will have a separate children’s programme for children aged 2-12 in an adjacent room. Their journey of grief also needs support.

The event will be run by a number of different staff from across maternity, paediatrics and chaplaincy. Members of staff who parents and families may have met during their visits to hospital will be on hand to offer support or to just simply say ‘hello’.”

Rev Fielder added that people were being encouraged to bring along any photographs or mementos of their child which would be placed on a special memory table.

Head of Chaplaincy, Mohammed Arshad said: “Parents who have attended previous services have commented on how helpful and caring it has been to see the familiar faces of staff who cared for them and their children.”

Comments from parents have included:

“Having this time and the opportunity to be with other parents who have been through the same was really important . . . .”

“We did not know what to expect but this was excellent; very touching, very caring, very special, very thoughtful . . .”

As well as parents, other family members and friends who are also grieving are welcome to attend.

Supportive environment

Muslim Chaplain, Maryam Riaz said: “The service gives parents and the wider family – siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as close family friends – the chance to share feelings and grieve together as they remember their babies and children, in a supportive environment.

The service will end with a balloon release as a way of marking respect and love for those who have died.

Families who have lost children or babies at the Trust’s hospitals in the past 24 months have been sent invitations to attend but anyone else who thinks they would benefit from the occasion is welcome to attend.

The event will last no more than 45 minutes plus time for refreshments. For further details, contact the Chaplaincy team on 01274 365819 or email dawn.arnison@bthft.nhs.uk

Bradford Hospitals Charity has kindly given funding for both this event which has enabled the provision of food, drink and refreshments, craft materials and balloons and tags for the balloon release.