The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Petals in the Park - Loss we'd rather not think about.

In a stark contrast to my last blog moaning about how hard it is to raise kids, this post is about what happens when pregnancies do not go to plan.  

This week I spoke with Amelia Grant from PETALS.  PETALS stands for Pregnancy Expectation Trauma and Loss Society and is an under acknowledged, under supported charity currently operating in Cambridgeshire.  At the risk of stating the obvious, I don't think its possible to experience a worse kind of loss than that of losing a child and I want to thank Amelia and Karen Burgess, Chief Exec and Lead Counsellor of PETALS for taking a few minutes to talk to me about the work they do.

If after reading this interview you feel inclined to give a little of your hard earned cash to this organisation, I know the ladies will be extremely grateful.  You can donate HERE

Tell me a bit about your experience and subsequent involvement with the charity?
Amelia: I accessed the charity within the first 3 months after I lost Isabelle having suffered with severe panic attacks, I went to see my GP.  She gave me an information sheet containing contact numbers of different bereavement services and the Petals contact number was listed.  I accessed counselling with Petals for a year and fell pregnant again within that time.  My counselling sessions began weekly at first and I found myself in a place to be able to grieve.  With the support from my counsellor, I was able to process what I (had) gone through.  Over the time I accessed the counselling I found out more about the work of Petals and last year I did a crazy Spartan Race raising over £1000 for the charity.  

It is an instinct that I should always wish to keep Isabelle's memory alive by doing something positive out of such devastation, and where I can give back to the charity that helped me so much.   

The PETALS website advises “everyday 11 couples go home from hospital to an empty nursery a following a stillbirth"* and that "every year, over 12,000 parents in the UK are grief-stricken by the tragic loss of their babies”.  Why do you think there is not enough help out there for these couples?
Amelia: Because there is not the recognition whatsoever within our current health system (NHS) that considers effectively what someone in this situation may require in terms of support, both physically and mentally.  Once discharged from the hospital I was left to source my own help.  I was visited at home once by a midwife who I did not know and thereafter......there was nothing. 

Why do you think the subject of pregnancy loss is such a taboo?
Amelia: Because pregnancy is all about expectant life and so when it goes wrong and death occurs either in pregnancy, or during or after birth, it is trauma and devastation that no one wants to ever imagine, or to really even contemplate that it can happen. We are programmed in society and as human beings, to not acknowledge death.  There is immense fear that surrounds any death so that it is thought best not to talk about it, or even acknowledge it. 

What can we do to change that?
Amelia: Certainly by making people more aware of the importance of emotional and mental healthcare (and) being seen as an area in our system that needs more understanding.  Encouraging an awareness for people to be able to feel comfortable should they wish, to be able to be open. 

In your opinion what’s the most important or helpful thing a friend or family member can do for a couple going through this? 
Amelia: To be there! To never assume that they understand what a couple have gone one would know unless they have been through it themselves. 

What practical ways (other than counselling) can PETALS help people that have experienced this sort of grief? 
Amelia: The awareness of the charity is growing and Petals operates alongside other charities of similar support for stillbirth, miscarriage and loss. 

What are PETALS plan for expansion so that they are able to offer this help nationwide?   
Amelia: In September 2015 Petals is going to operate its services from within St Marys in London.  Petals plans to continue to raise the awareness of the charity and campaign to support the need for the taboo of "counselling" and "talking of loss" to change.  Continue to fund raise at wonderful events and help support and sustain the charity operating. 

Talking of fundraising, any events coming up?
Amelia: Petals in the Park (a four hour Jazzercise-a-thon! on the 16th August) is an event for everyone.  It doesn't matter if you haven't done Jazzercise before.  If you love to dance, this is the event for you.  It is going to be great fun.  Register here.

Children's world is on Parker's Piece the same day and families of participants will be able to access a discount to the fairground. 

* National Statistics on Stillbirth 2012 
Images provided by PETALS

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