I’m an early riser so I’m in our Tallaght office before 8.30am.
I spend time going through correspondence, emails and updating our Facebook page. Our absolute priority is supporting parents who have lost a child, so if I get a phone call from a parent who needs to talk, I drop everything.
Anam Cara has nine groups nationally, so there’s an amount of planning around organising monthly events. These groups are co- facilitated by Anam Cara Volunteers and professionals with experience of supporting bereaved parents. Anam Cara provides a safe, comfortable place for parents to meet with other parents who understand the intensity of the grief that follows the death of a child. We endeavour to help parents journey through their loss to a place where they can cope and find a way to rebuild their lives, with their child holding a special place in it.
Today I’m preparing for the launch of a resource for employers on how they can support bereaved parents on their return to work. I had that experience after Rachel, my youngest daughter, died in 2004 of an inoperable brain tumour. It really shocked me that there was no resources for bereaved families. So I got involved with Anam Cara. Our service launched in 2008.
I rarely break for lunch. I touch base with our chair, John Mullins, a Corkman. His son was in Rachel’s class and he saw the effect of her death on her school mates.
I spend time on the phone talking to our wonderful volunteers. Often I speak with health professionals giving information about our services. We also collaborate with other agencies such as Milford Care Centre in Limerick. We don’t believe in duplicating services. Part of my day is spent speaking to potential partner organisations.
We’re not state-funded, so I identify potential fundraising streams. All Anam Cara services are free to parents. We have some generous donors — Maurice Healy from Skibbereen donated our Tallaght Office.
I love the outdoors, gardening and walking. Rachel’s death taught me that life is precious and I feel I am living it for both of us. And of course for my other two children, Joyce, 19, and Dylan, 18, and husband Aidan.
Sharon Vard is CEO Anam Cara, a support group for parents who have lost a child.
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