As #BLAW2020 draws to a close today with the final day being dedicated to Remembering your baby, I wanted to share my own precious memories of my first little boy, Tom. He would have been 21 on Valentines Day 2021.
Perhaps one of the few benefits of Covid is that we are all far more able to talk about isolation, grief and our own mental health. Especially in the work context. I have been delighted to hear so many senior leaders talk about their own mental health and demonstrating vulnerability and compassion in their leadership. Truly inspiring. Whilst the taboos may be diminishing (they aren't gone, are they?), the complexities we may navigate around emotionally and practically supporting our colleagues through grief and trauma, I believe, remain ever present. There is no trump card when it comes to the loss of a loved one but the circumstances of that loss can give rise to a range of different behaviours and reactions.
The reality is that the loss of a baby renders so many of us speechless - the fear of saying the wrong thing and, perhaps, the guilt of having the appearance of the perfect family life, are just a couple of the things that get in the way. From my own perspective I remember that the silence and avoidance of what had happened to Tom, and to us, contrasted so painfully with the excitement and chat of the previous 8 months. Whether it is comments about how you look, the gentle touch of your bump or frankly pretty personal questions about how your life will change - people don't hold back when it comes to talking about a new baby. But hold back we still do when it comes to the loss of that baby.
#BLAW publishes a sadly all too familiar report on its website - Out of sight, out of mind which evidences that around 60% of bereaved parents felt they could not access the specialist psychological support they needed following their loss. That too many bereaved parents are falling through the gaps. The isolation which has arisen out of Covid can only have significantly increased the pain than grief stricken parents must be going through as well as the continued difficulty of accessing the practical support needed.
So as this special remembrance week draws to a close, and whilst so many of us are not face to face with our work colleagues, perhaps you could drop someone a whatsapp, or suggest a virtual coffee, or even a walk in a park if you live close enough. Maybe you could ask them how they are. Maybe you could just say that you are remembering them and their much loved and much missed baby. Baby loss is not limited to one week a year - you live with the loss for the rest of your life. That life can really be made so much easier if you know your colleagues have tried hard to walk past their fears and discomfort and have remembered that you do, of course, bring your whole self to work.