Lennie and Meera’s daughter, Samantha, died aged just nine days old due to a congenital heart defect. They talk about their experience and how they were supported by Child Bereavement UK following the death of Samantha and when expecting their daughter, Scarlett, who is 15 weeks old.


 It was at a mid-pregnancy scan that Lennie and Meera learned that their daughter had a congenital heart defect. The hospital identified that Samantha had pulmonary atresia, in which valves in the heart do not form properly. Following her birth, a scan revealed the extent of the condition.

 “The hospital told us they weren’t able to operate,” says Meera. “It was devastating news and from then on it was a case of caring for Samantha. We were told we could go to a hospice in our area that caters for children. She was so alert there, opening her eyes for us and enjoying her first bath. Compared to the hospital, the hospice was more relaxed. We kept asking if we could do things for her like change her nappy because we hadn’t been able to do this at the hospital. They said: ‘Yes, of course you can, she’s your baby’.”

 “On the first evening at the hospice, Samantha developed necrotizing enterocolitis and her organs started to shut down. She was becoming agitated and uncomfortable, they gave her pain relief via a syringe driver and she became calm and peaceful. While Lennie slept, we just lay there and stared at each other. When Lennie woke, I gave him Samantha to cuddle. I went to get her a nappy and when I returned, she was gone. I looked at Lennie, then looked at Samantha and said, ‘She’s gone in your arms, hasn’t she?’

 The hospice offered us bereavement counselling, but I felt they were concentrating more on my mental health rather than the bereavement, which we didn’t find that helpful. Then my GP told me about Child Bereavement UK. The first time we went to see someone, I was in a very bad place, I couldn’t even speak. It really helped me to come once a month and talk to someone who could understand what I was going through.

 Child Bereavement UK gave us tools that made it easier to talk about our emotions.

I told the bereavement support practitioner that I was finding it really difficult to get things out of my head. Things were building up and Lennie and I were struggling to talk about how we felt because we didn’t want to upset one another. We were given a sheet on which we could write down the things we were feeling and then talk about it. Child Bereavement UK gave us tools that made it easier to talk about our emotions.

It was in the June following Samantha’s death in February that I found out that we were having a second baby. Sadly, I had a miscarriage, although it wasn’t until I had my first monthly cycle, that I really acknowledged my baby had died. I felt as though I was still pregnant even though people told me that the baby had gone. It really hit hard then, and my mental health deteriorated. I was only just coming to terms with the loss of Samantha.”

After a struggle to come off anti-depressants, Meera went back to the GP with Lennie to talk about trying again for a baby.

 “The GP said we’d done well talking to someone in the past and suggested we go back to Child Bereavement UK,” says Lennie.

 “We got to see someone very quickly,” says Meera. “We spoke to our bereavement support practitioner about Samantha’s death. I came to appointments with the expectation that I’d feel better about the loss after the sessions; I wanted it to get easier or better in some way. But Child Bereavement UK explained that grief is like a circle; you’ve got to fill your time and your life with meaningful things, you’ve got to live around your loss, to let it become a part of your life.

Child Bereavement UK was with us on every step of the journey and was really supportive. When I became pregnant with Scarlett, we knew someone was there for us on the end of the phone or an email.

 We discussed how much we wanted to try for a baby but how scared we were of losing another child. I really wanted to go ahead once we had the OK from our GP and the hospital, which was treating me for other health problems. Lennie, however, was more anxious feeling that if it happened again we wouldn’t be able to take it. Fortunately, Child Bereavement UK was with us on every step of the journey and was really supportive. When I became pregnant with Scarlett, we knew someone was there for us on the end of the phone or an email.”

 Lennie says: “There were times I felt it was going to be a steep uphill journey as things weren’t always going the way we hoped. But, by taking everything one step at a time and utilising the support of Child Bereavement UK, there were more easy times than hard.

Coming to Child Bereavement UK is not just about talking about the loss. You will touch on that, but you look into other things too, which is helpful. It’s not all doom and gloom, we have good times too. You don’t always talk about the death, it’s also about memories of those who have gone, which is good.

 Coming to Child Bereavement UK is not just about talking about the loss. You will touch on that, but you look into other things too, which is helpful. It’s not all doom and gloom, we have good times too. You don’t always talk about the death, it’s also about memories of those who have gone, which is good.” 

I would absolutely recommend Child Bereavement UK. People may think it’s a cliché but it absolutely does help to talk, especially to someone who understands what you are going through.

 Meera agrees:

 “I would absolutely recommend Child Bereavement UK. People may think it’s a cliché, but it absolutely does help to talk, especially to someone who understands what you are going through.”