A charity that hosts remembrance services to help grieving parents cope with the loss of a baby has held its first service in Edinburgh since lockdown began.
The “Saying Goodbye” services were launched in 2012 by Zoe and Andy Clark-Coates, who suffered the loss of five babies and found there was no support for them through this grief.
Along with bereavement charity, The Mariposa Trust, the husband and wife organise services in places of worship around Scotland which allow parents to grieve for their baby lost during pregnancy, in birth or in infancy. It also welcomes those who are grieving never having had children.
Before each service attendees are asked the name of their baby and a bell is rung for them as their name is spoken at the service.
For many of the families who have suffered miscarriage or death during birth, the service was the first time they have been given a public space to grieve for their baby’s life.
The annual service in Edinburgh and all other services throughout the country have been postponed due to the lockdown.
But on Saturday, the first post-lockdown service in Edinburgh was held in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral.
Zoe said: “There is something very powerful about grieving in a group and lockdown has robbed so many parents of this chance.
“We are thrilled to start the services again, for a while we thought we would have to wait until 2021 which is a very long time for parents to wait before being able to honour their baby’s life.
“Many people who come to the services have been unable to hold a funeral for their baby if it has passed away during pregnancy or birth. It means a lot to them to be able to grieve in a public place for their baby.
“The service in Edinburgh was slightly different to keep in line with social distancing rules but families have told us how grateful they are that the service was going ahead.”
Since lockdown Zoe and Andy have been running online services with thousands of people attending each session.
A parent from the Capital who suffered 14 miscarriages said these services allowed her to grieve with people who understand her pain.
The parent, who prefers to remain nameless said: “The loss of a baby by miscarriage is never formally recognised by a ceremony. No funeral service is held, no date is noted, no names are recorded.
“As I stood with other parents and proudly rang the bell for my 14 babies, I felt unbearable sadness but also a great privilege in being able to properly celebrate their existence.
“For the first time ever I felt my tears of grief, loss and love were allowed, shared and understood.”
The unnamed parent added: “The experience of being with people who knew how it felt was a real strength.”