Today marks National Bereaved Parents’ Day, an awareness campaign hosted by this superb charity, A Child of Mine.
A Child of Mine aim to unite every bereaved parent from all walks of life and to try to break the silence around loss. Babies and children do sadly die and they hope to stop the taboo and start talking about it and be there for bereaved parents and indeed the whole family.
This fantastic charity provides both emotional and practical support to families following every parent’s worst fear, the loss of a child. Sadly, our medical negligence specialists at Tozers regularly support parents following the death of a child, and it is clearly the most traumatic event impacting the entire family. This is devastating regardless of the reason their son or daughter has died but knowing it may have been avoided is truly heartbreaking.
It is inevitable that the whole family are likely to need support to understand and come to terms with loss, and a Child of Mine provides a range of different services, recognising that everybody will have different needs to navigate their grief. If they are also considering bringing a claim following loss, this is an extremely difficult and upsetting process, and whilst often helpful in terms of providing the family with answers, we as a team are always keen to signpost to support services like A Child of Mine.
One of the services they provide is family support. This offers a listening ear and confidential peer support and ranges from any age, whether it is baby loss at any gestation, neonatal death, or a child of any age. We often hear about the impact of loss on siblings, and this is clearly also recognised by this charity, as they also provide groups for both younger and older siblings who have lost their brother or sister.
We often see siblings struggling to return to the new normal following loss, from difficulties in confidence, to anxiety and depression. A Child of Mine also provide a space for children to build confidence through humour and creative activities, finding them that safe space to be themselves. Their Sunshine and Rainbow’s project also provides a stay and play playgroup for both parents and their children born before or after loss. This includes a different entertainer each month, plus lunch and crafting activities.
Part of the charity that we are particularly inspired by, is their Children’s Hospitals’ Bereavement Network. This entails working with bereavement teams at the major children’s hospitals across England, representing parents to share experiences and working with bereavement teams to improve care. We regularly speak to families who we are acting for, who raise significant concerns in relation to the care provided to their children leading up to their death, and the poor services and treatment offered following the loss. This only ever makes a tragic situation even more devastating, when often empathy and further care would make all the difference. Often parents don’t feel strong enough to advocate for themselves, which makes the service provided by A Child of Mine even more important.
The charity has been working on projects and providing publications as well as training and study days at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Alder Hey, Bristol Children’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street and hospitals under Barts Health NHS Trust as well as with NHS England.
A Child of Mind also have a Child Death Review Process, working closely with the Child Death Overview Panel co-ordinators. This is a mandatory review into every child’s death, looking at learning and preventable child deaths in the future. They help to advise and work with Hospital Trust’s to improve care and processes for families who have lost a child unexpectedly. This must go some way to helping bereaved families know that steps are being made to prevent other families from going through the loss of a child.
Learning and improvement is something that is essential, and the charity recognises the need to provide training to healthcare professionals, or anyone supporting bereaved parents. Sometimes, it can be hard to know what to say to families following loss, let alone if it was avoidable, and A Child of Mine hope to increase the confidence in staff when supporting families after the death of their child.
In 2020, A Child of Mine recognised that there wasn’t a specific day that honoured bereaved parents, to help families realise they are not alone. They hope that the campaign will help spread that message, keep the conversation going, and show the bereaved parent community that they are not alone.
If you have lost a child and would like advice, our specialist medical negligence team are available for a free initial chat about your situation and find out how you can get started.