Charlene was supported by Child Bereavement UK in Glasgow after her daughter Jessica was stillborn at 32 weeks.

At Child Bereavement UK I felt my feelings were important and it was as though I’d got back a small part of me I thought I’d lost.

When Jessica sadly was stillborn in 2018 it was a real shock. In 2015, I had miscarriage and I thought that once I got past the point I miscarried, I was on the home stretch, nothing would go wrong.

A week before Jessica died, I was taken into hospital because I was bleeding slightly and they couldn't figure out why; I thought it was just a wee blip in the road. I went into labour at home and when I went to hospital they discovered that the baby no longer had a heartbeat. It was a lot to take in because when you're pregnant, they don't talk a lot about stillbirth and they don't prepare you for the possibility that it might happen.

I had Jessica in October and it wasn’t until January the following year that I had the courage to reach out for support; I just felt like less of a person and as though I didn’t know what to do or why. I’d always been bubbly and outgoing, but I had suffered badly with anxiety. After Jessica died, I slowly noticed my anxiety kicking in again - it would be simple things like going to the shops; I’d start to shake and panic because I thought people were looking at me.

I have a really good supportive family and I have my partner but he’s very a closed book when it comes to talking about his grief, which was difficult for me because sometimes I just wanted to talk about my grief.

I was given the contact details for Child Bereavement UK by the hospital. I took my mum with me to my first appointment with Child Bereavement UK as I wasn’t comfortable to go alone. I spoke to the bereavement support practitioner and opened up about how I was feeling about losing Jessica and what was affecting me. I remember coming out of that appointment and feeling a sense of relief, as though somebody had taken a load of bricks from my shoulder. During that time with the practitioner, I’d felt a few minutes of solace and peace. I felt my feelings were important and it was as though I’d got back a small part of me I thought I’d lost.

There would be sessions where I just talked about Jessica or where I just cried the whole time. I was also helped to deal with other trauma such as my Gran passing away very suddenly years ago. Child Bereavement UK gave me a safe space where I could speak about anything, and where there were no boundaries. I didn't have to be someone else and I didn’t have to put on a brave face and act like it was OK, I could just let it go.

My biggest fear about talking to my family was hurting them, but at Child Bereavement UK I could talk about my feelings without hurting anyone.

I knew the bereavement support practitioner cared and valued me, but I also knew that she wouldn't be unable to sleep at night because she was worried about me. Knowing that I wasn't a burden, enabled me to open up and let my mind relax.

The sessions were life changing for me because it made me realise that it's actually OK to speak about your bereavement. Stillbirth is such a taboo subject and up until then nobody had ever brought up or mentioned stillbirth to me, nobody even spoke about baby loss and it made me feel alone. The support made me feel that I was allowed to talk about my situation and that it’s only a taboo subject if you let it be a taboo subject.

I am more comfortable with my grief now and I want people to see that it's OK to talk about their feelings and that it’s OK to be five years on in your process and still be grieving. I still have days where I'm really sad and I wake up in the morning wishing she was here.

Child Bereavement UK helped me accept that it's OK to be upset, but it's also OK to be happy and to move forward with your life.

The sad part of my journey is that I'm not able to have other children so Jessica was my last opportunity to be a mother. Last October was Jessica’s 5th birthday and I realised that I won't get to walk her to school for the first time and I won't get to take her out to buy school uniform. I see people I grew up with who have two or three kids, or a new baby, and the only way I can describe it is I'm on the back benches watching from afar, thinking I wish this could be me, wishing this could be my life.

But I do things now to keep Jessica's memory alive and that’s important to me. Losing her gave me the push that I needed to move forward in my life - she won't get the opportunity to do things in her life, so I will. I'm starting a new career, I've been to college and I'm going to university. And I do things like having days out with my partner and if I go to a concert l give a wee nod to Jessica and say ‘this is for you because you won't get to do this.’

My advice to anyone going through the loss of a child is to keep your child's memory alive and make time for yourself. I took that initial step to come to Child Bereavement UK because I realised I needed time for me. I came for support because I realised that it’s important to take care of yourself and to talk about your loss.

You'll never move on from your loss, but it’s OK to take slow, gradual steps to moving forward and it’s OK to remember. 

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