Moving service in Belfast for parents and families left bereft by the loss of infant
A moving 'Saying Goodbye' service was held in St Anne's Cathedral yesterday for families, couples and individuals affected by the loss of a baby, whether during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.
Such services - which take place across the UK - are organised by leading support charity The Mariposa Trust to help people affected by baby loss, pregnancy after baby loss, fertility or adoption issues, and more.
The charity was founded by Zoe and Andy Clark-Coates, who tragically suffered the loss of five babies.
They saw that there was an extreme lack of support available to parents like them, and so decided to start the 'Saying Goodbye' services.
Andy Clark-Coates said: "When parents go through the devastating loss of a baby, whether during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy, they often feel isolated and unable to process the overwhelming grief and trauma that miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal and early years loss brings.
"The 'Saying Goodbye' services allow people to stand with others who have experienced the similar trauma of baby loss, and collectively acknowledge and remember each life lost."
Among those at yesterday's service in Belfast was Lisburn couple Brian and Nikki Coles, who lost their third child during pregnancy.
"Back in October 2017 we were just a normal family, blessed with two little boys and incredibly excited to be expecting our third much-wanted child," said Nikki (31).
"It was a wet miserable day in Belfast and as a family we went along, excited but nervous to find out the gender of this little one.
"Both our boys were very excited but yet I couldn't really shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right.
"We found out that evening that our little girl's heart had stopped beating - and our world shattered into a million pieces.
"Gradually the light began to enter back into all our lives but little did we know then that we would go on to lose another two babies the following year.
"Thankfully, we had the support to help piece together our broken hearts after each baby we lost."
She said the support of the Mariposa Trust had been vital to helping rebuild the couple's lives.
During the touching ceremony, candles were lit and attendees were invited to ring a bell in memory of the lost babies.
"That's always a really special moment," Nikki said.
"Every baby matters, the service gives people a chance to remember the children they've lost, especially if - like us - you did not have the opportunity to have a funeral service for your baby
"It is so special to remember our little ones among other parents who know that feeling of utter heartbreak."