Rosemary, Sands blog
Rosemary, | 14 June 2015

Our new film highlights the work Sands does supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, improving bereavement care and pioneering new research to save more babies’ lives; and what you can do to help.

Each day this week we will introduce all the people in the film who will share their stories below in their own words. Yesterday, Anna and Andrew Milloy blogged about their experiences. Today, Anna's Mum writes about dealing with the death of her grandchild.

Rosemary's Story

My daughter Anna was ridiculously healthy throughout pregnancy, and not only that, she radiated joy. When Anna went into labour and was taken to hospital on New Year’s Eve, no one could have anticipated how our lives would be changed in a moment.

I was at home when one of the midwives rang, hardly able to speak for sobbing, to tell me the baby had died. 

I didn’t know anything about my grandchild at that point. I didn’t know if I would be allowed to see him or her. I didn’t know what would happen next. I didn’t know whether the baby was a boy or girl.

So I was greatly relieved to hear Anna’s voice over the telephone the next day. She told me that they had had a baby girl who they had brought home. Anna asked if I would like to come and meet her. Would I! I couldn’t get round there fast enough.

I discovered Philomena, a perfect little mite lying in her cradle, absolutely beautiful, as of course all newborns are to their grannies. But she was dead. And my heart was breaking for my dear child and her husband, who were going through unimaginable pain.

While Anna was carrying Philomena, my husband and I had been designing a willow labyrinth to grow in our meadow. The willow setts needed to go in soon after her funeral, and so during the early days of our grief we spent several weeks planting 3,000 sticks!

Anna helped plant, and decided to plant snowdrops as well, in memory of Philomena. Soon she began to meet other bereaved parents through Sands, and invited them to do the same.

One year later we had a much more organized event over a weekend, and invited people to come and plant snowdrops, have tea and cake, and various other activities. By then Anna, Andrew and myself had decided to train as Sands Befrienders.

We were amazed by the response! Young and old, families, couples, and people on their own, all coming because in some way their lives had been touched by a baby’s birth and death, and they felt they needed to come.

We now hold snowdrop teas each year. The people who come are so glad to have a safe place to talk about an event which changed their lives, but which they have few opportunities to share with people who will understand.

We will never forget Philomena, but as time passes the rawness of our grief heals enough for us to be able to stand alongside other parents and grandparents in their pain. Particularly for me as a grandparent, to help other grandparents who are supporting their children in their need and not daring to open the floodgates of their own grief is incredibly important.