Angel bells helps parents cope with grief

lady in nurses uniform with another lady both holding bells

Antenatal and newborn specialist midwife, Pauline Canning and Karen Nelson with the angel bells

However brief, a baby’s life is always cherished.

The memory of tragic infants, miscarried, born asleep or who have lived for only hours, days or weeks, will remain with their parents forever.

And Christmas is often a difficult time for bereaved parents. An annual remembrance service, organised by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, helps them cope with baby death and feel they are not alone in their grief.

This year’s non-religious service is on Sunday, December 6 at 3pm in the Baronial Hall at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

As part of the service, families will be given a bell with the quote from the Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life – every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

The bells have been donated by bereaved mum, Karen Nelson of Blackpool, who lost two babies but has found support, comfort and new challenges through the Baby Remembrance Service.

“Bereavement support nurse Megan Murray and I thought the bells would be a lovely touch and we loved the saying from the film,” Karen said. Last year each family was given a Christmas angel, donated by baby death charity 4 Louis so the angel bells are very fitting this year.”

Karen added: “We will be giving the bells out at the start of the ceremony so it will be lovely to hear them tinkling through the service.”

Blackpool Victoria Hospital bereavement support nurse, Megan Murray said: “Having a special place and time, where bereaved families can remember their babies and reflect on what might have been can help ease the anguish and bring solace to parents.

“This event is so important to families who have suffered baby death,” Megan added. “It is open to anyone who has been touched by baby loss, including ectopic pregnancy.”

“It channels grief into something positive. The parents are sad but they have the opportunity to be part of something united and can see that they are not on their own.”

Karen added: “The service is my time to think of the babies I lost. I have a little cry and light my candle. It is nice that the service is near Christmas. I remember the first Christmas after I lost my son Bradley; I spent the morning in bed crying my eyes out.

“But this service gives you something special to do that is positive and means the children you have lost are included in the Christmas celebrations. Also it makes you realise you are not alone with this grief, many other families are going through the same thing.”

The Trust also gives all parents a bauble on which to write their baby’s name as an act of remembrance. They can hang the bell and bauble from either the Christmas tree at the service or take it home to hang on their own tree.

The remembrance tree at the service is donated by Blackpool Borough Council and will be taken to Carleton Cemetery after the event. Lytham and Fleetwood cemeteries will also have remembrance trees, donated by both Fylde and Wyre Councils, which can also be decorated with the memory baubles.

Families wanting more information about the Baby Remembrance Service should contact Megan Murray on 01253 956877.

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