Once upon a time, there was a mother, and she went through the love and loss of her terminally ill daughter. She carried her to delivery and then grieved in the most beautiful way possible. She reached out to other Mum's in the same circumstances and supported them as well at the Every Life Counts event held recently at the Belfast Castle.
We met Vicky who travelled from Waterford for a special event with some Mum's from Northern Ireland who have been affected by similar losses.
Thanks to Greer being able to cover for us in the viewing room for the afternoon we packed up and headed off for the Belfast Castle with very little idea of what we would be doing. First things first, Vicky handed us a cup of tea and some fantastic nibbles (as she knew we had skipped lunch) and introduced us to Emmett, who was the video guy. He recorded the Mums who wanted to share their stories as they explained to us," It's a safe place to talk about our babies without fear of being judged if we cry, or worse when we have a laugh together."
This is what the group provides for each other. The girls were from all walks of life. Some first-time Mums, some who had their children's loss to manage as well as their own. Every Mum in the group present or not was represented in the photo gallery with their babies. It's a close group, but this was the first time some of them had met each other in person. Sometimes social media can be praised for a change!
The girls had enjoyed a relaxing day enjoying making memory lockets for their babies and having afternoon tea and a wee bit of a pamper away from the strain of pretending that life is normal and they are "Fine thank you" for not asking as people find it hard to know what to say.
We came away with a collection of images that ranged from the expected look of pain across a mother's face as she recounts her loss to the craic we had together outside when we looked up at the windows and could see people looking down thinking we were filming a fashion shoot!
We talked about the butterflies with the names on them and that this is some people's little reminder of their babies short but beautiful time on earth. Joanne told us that when she couldn't put her daughter Faith in her coffin a rainbow burst across the sky and gave her the courage to let go and that is why she associated a rainbow with her baby. While we stood outside, getting set up for the filming a beautiful rainbow appeared and raised a smile in all of us.
There are still smiles. There is new life and new hope, and two of the girls are heavily pregnant again. It's good to see the girls together as only they really understand how each other feels. The most amazing thing is that through their own pain, they are reaching out to help others in any way they can. The message we got strongly was that it helps to speak the babies names and acknowledge that small footprints still leave as deep a mark.
Vicky has been awarded the "Thank you" award by the Butterfly trust for her work with the group. She has cried with the Mums when their babies are diagnosed, held them as their babies died and hugged them when they felt able to talk about what they have come through. The best bit is that I am confident that it helps her make sense of the life and loss of her daughter, Líadán.
If you feel that you resonate with the work of Every Life Counts If you feel that you resonate with the work of Every Life Counts you can contact them for support via:-