A series of powerful videos to support newly bereaved parents and families and offer them hope has been launched by Anam Cara.
The support organisation has produced five four-minute videos that include interviews with bereaved parents who share their experiences of surviving the intense grief after the death of a child.
The final video in the suite introduces the Anam Cara team and explores the support services it provides to parents and families.
Anam Cara CEO Sharon Vard, said the videos were produced to reassure parents that they would, one day, learn to cope with the overwhelming sense of loss and desperation that is associated with the loss of a child.
“We felt that by having the videos freely available, together with a set of leaflets that will be available from next month, parents will begin to realise that the sense of loss they are feeling is normal, even though it feels anything but normal.”
Sharon knows what it is like to lose a child — her little girl, Rachel, who had an inoperable brain tumour, was just five years old when she died in 2004.
“When your child dies you are thrown into a nightmare and there is no road map to help you through. You just don’t know what to do so it can be a very frightening place,” she said.
After Rachel died, Sharon found there was no organised support for bereaved parents, but began to connect with other bereaved parents at Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin.
The parents started to meet informally every month in a Dublin hotel and in 2008, after establishing links with other parents throughout the country, Anam Cara was founded.
The national voluntary organisation, which does not receive any State support, now has nine groups around the country.
“We want to give parents hope and let them know that even though what they are going through is horrendous they will get through it,” said Sharon. “Even though your child has died, your relationship with the child goes on. The child you loved has just moved to a different place.
“I would often say I have three children but one of my children has died. I have a relationship with her but it is totally different to the relationship with my two living children. It is a relationship that I carry in my heart.”
Sharon believes that parents like her have to find a way to live around their loss.
“You do learn to live with it because it is something that you never want to let go — to let go would be to let go of the love you shared with your child.”
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