Sharing the burden
GRAFTON'S Chris Davis knows the sheer heartache of losing a child well before its time.
In 1987, after seven years of unsuccessful IVF treatments, Chris fell pregnant with triplets.
However, tragically, one baby – a little girl – didn't make it through.
“One died before the others were delivered,” Chris said.
“At that time, because I was so overwhelmed with two premature babies, I didn't deal with the loss.”
Three years ago and 20 years after losing her baby, Chris decided to start a support group for couples who were infertile or who had lost babies in pregnancy or shortly after birth.
“After all those years, I realised I still had a problem. It prompted me to help others go through the grieving process in a far more healthy way,” she said.
On Sunday, October 17, Chris – who is convenor of the Clarence Region Infertility Support Group – will conduct a ceremony in Grafton's See Park to commemorate National Remembrance Day for Pregnancy and Infant Loss.
This is the second year the Clarence region will host a ceremony of this kind.
“It was so well-received last year that we decided to run it annually,” Chris said.
She said while the ceremony would focus on remembering babies and children who had died, it would also facilitate a time for parents to grieve for their loss – one that was so acute, yet often overlooked.
“There are so many people affected by early pregnancy loss – but it's a loss society often doesn't recognise as valid,” Chris said.
She said a large number of people had approached her who had lost babies more than 20 years ago.
“Some people have asked, ‘is that too long ago?', but it's just as important for them – it doesn't matter how long ago it was, it's still a loss.”
Chris said a mixed group had expressed interest in attending the ceremony, including those who had miscarried; parents whose babies were still born or didn't live long after birth; people from the group Compassionate Friends who had lost their children from toddlers through to adults; and those who had given up their baby for adoption, which Chris said was an experience similar to, and as agonising as, their baby dying.
“This ceremony helps them to formalise the loss, and allows them to grieve,” she said.
Chris is currently compiling a ceremony booklet, in which she will print the names of the children.
Their names will also be read while music is played at the end of the ceremony.
Parents wishing to be involved can phone Chris on 66422360/ 0412886942 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People unable to attend can still have their child's name printed in remembrance.
The National Remembrance Day for Pregnancy and Infant Loss ceremony will start at noon on October 17 near the rotunda at See Park, Pound Street, Grafton. It will be followed by light refreshments.