Christmas, birthdays and other special family events can be a time of renewed grief for bereaved parents as they reflect upon the death of their baby and confront thoughts of what might have been. We hope that yesterday was a lovely occasion for you all, but know that this can be a very difficult time for many.

Family and friends, while well-meaning, can sometimes find it difficult to companion their loved ones through such an unimaginable experience, instead understandably wanting to ‘fix’ their pain or take it away.

Sands Australia provides confidential support to bereaved parents following the death of their baby. Our support model provides individualised care to those grieving – either by phone, email, live chat or in local face-to-face support groups.

All of our services are delivered by bereaved parents with lived experience of pregnancy and/or infant loss using a peer-to-peer model. Connecting parents with shared experience is at the heart of this model. By listening and validating the grief stories of those who reach out to Sands, each of our parent supporters is able to provide understanding and hope in a way that few others can.

Recognising that there are many different ways of grieving and responding to grief, Sands parent supporters aim to walk alongside those seeking support without expectation or judgement.

Increasingly, bereaved parents are seeking support from Sands by phone or online – at a time and place of their choosing.

For some parents, attending a local face-to-face support group is their preferred option – it’s often the first time they’ve met another person who has experienced the kind of grief they feel.

This face-to-face connection can be powerful, with comfort found and friendships formed among attendees at each location.

In South Australia, Sands facilitates 4 regular local support groups on Tuesday & Wednesday evenings – in Goodwood, Wynn Vale, Hallett Cove and Mount Barker.

Sands also runs regular coffee mornings in Adelaide for bereaved parents to meet informally throughout the month.

Sands’ SA State Coordinator, Jess Duke, said what bereaved parents report wanting most of all is to know that their baby’s life is acknowledged and remembered, especially as the days, weeks and months go by.

“Opportunities to acknowledge their baby’s impact on their life, especially at this time of year, are so meaningful to bereaved parents,” she said. “The simple lighting of a candle, the planting of a tree, or a hand-written Christmas card including their baby’s name are all ways family and friends can help do this.”

For the first time this year Sands has also released a range of personalised Christmas recipes families can get together to bake as a way of creating new memories of their baby. For a donation of $25 to help support Sands’ programs, friends and family can gift a recipe in a loved one’s name and help them ‘stir in the love’ for their baby this Christmas. Something to think about for next year Christmas too. Visit https://sands-australia.giveeasy.org/stir-in-the-love

For more details on Sands’ support services, visit https://www.sands.org.au/, email servicessa@sands.org.au or phone 0477 014 775.