Last week, model Chrissy Teigen revealed her shock and pain after suffering pregnancy loss on social media.
While there was much sympathy towards Teigen’s loss, there was also shock at her demonstration of vulnerability and pain: highlighting the continued stigma and silence surrounding baby loss.
The 9th-15th October marks baby loss awareness week. Providing support during this week and the rest of the year is the charity Arlo’s Adventure, set up by Sarah Owen. Having lost her own infant son, Arlo, Sarah set up the charity in January this year to provide support for those attending hospital appointments or enduring long stays in the UK. This may mean providing flights and accommodation for additional family members to visit in the UK (something that is important to Sarah, whose parents would have never met Arlo had they have not paid to visit the UK). In organising things like travel and accommodation, Arlo’s Adventure hope to relieve some of the stresses on people already dealing with a great deal of stress and trauma. Sarah admits that she is “a very practical person” and the support she provides reflects this: she thinks about things that are perhaps overlooked when individuals are overwhelmed, for example which hotel would be the most practical choice?
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, things have been slightly different for Arlo’s Adventure, but they have still been able to provide essential support. For one family, who have been in lockdown since March because of a vulnerable child, Arlo’s have provided items like baked goods, a Build-a-Bear and a Disney+ subscription. While these items are undoubtedly comforting for the family, they are also practical solutions for entertaining a family in lockdown.
Arlo’s Adventure also provides emotional support for people affected by baby loss. They provide events for people to connect, including children who have lost siblings. There is also a Facebook support group, Fedjag Vane (white feather). Sarah acknowledges that there is a particular stigma in the island about attending groups and the fear of seeing someone that you recognise, but the support that these groups can provide can be vital for those experiencing baby loss. In the future, Sarah hopes to provide more support for fathers, who are often forgotten about and can struggle to share their stories.
If you know someone experiencing baby loss, Sarah recommends that, in the immediate days and weeks, you offer to provide support without smothering. For many people experiencing baby loss, they might not want to leave the house or see people: things like meals on the doorstep, offering to walk the dog or picking up shopping can be great reliefs for families. Token gestures like a bag of magazines and some chocolate is also valuable. Gestures that “play to your strengths” like drawing or writing poetry can also add a personal touch. In the long term, remembering the significant dates, and texting or calling, can be a way to remind someone that you’re thinking about them.
From the 9-15th October, there will be events commemorating baby loss awareness week, including a petal release by Arlo’s Adventure at Ballaglass Glenn 11th October, a candle lit memorial service by A Little Piece of Hope at the Tower of Refuge 15th October, 6:30 and a remembrance event at the Jane, 15th October – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book.