Bereaved Parents Month – Faye, Lauren and Sofia’s story
In March 2022, Faye and Lauren’s beautiful little girl, Sofia, was sadly born sleeping.
During what was their ‘worst period of their lives’, Zoe’s Place offered the couple a chance to spend as much time as possible with their little girl. Although they could not make the memories they dreamed or planned, they still got to create memories with Sofia that they will cherish forever.
‘We cannot put into words how invaluable this was, Zoe’s Place gave us the most precious 2 weeks with our little girl,’ explains Faye and Lauren.
Faye, Lauren and their families were given full use of our bereavement suite here at Zoe’s Place, namely, The Snowdrop Suite. The suite consists of a specially adapted temperature-controlled room, a living area with a private kitchen, garden and bedroom. The suite is there for families to use to be with their child until the funeral.
‘This suite was so precious to me and my family as it allowed us to come together in a safe and friendly space. We have a big family and Zoe’s Place allowed us all to come together to spend as much time as possible with Sofia,’ describes Faye.
During their time using the Snowdrop Suite, Faye and Lauren spent their time with Sofia creating precious memories.
‘We spent our time reading stories, listening to lullabies, watching Liverpool matches, making crafts and creating keepsakes, which we will treasure forever. Our dog Baloo even popped in for a visit.’
When using the bereavement facilities, Faye and Lauren felt comforted, knowing Sofia was in the next room.
‘For us the idea of being apart from Sofia was unimaginable. Simply being close to her, both day and night provided us with so much comfort.’
The staff at Zoe’s Place are on there to support through the family’s stay, our staff are there to check on the child, and to Faye and Lauren, this was a huge comfort.
‘The greatest gift the staff gave to us was how amazing and loving they was with Sofia. Hearing the night staff go into Sofia’s room and start chatting away to her was so comforting, it reassured us that she was okay and not alone.’
The Snowdrop Suite is an integral part of Zoe’s Place and offers the support, care and time to families when they need it most.
‘The love, support and care from all the staff at Zoe’s Place was like no other, we will never be able to express how much they mean to us, and we will be forever grateful,’ said Faye and Lauren.
The Snowdrop Suite is named after the Snowdrop flower, which is a symbol of hope through adversity. It is also one of the first flowers of the year which despite the cold, frost and sometimes the ice, fights its way through these hardships to flower. Snowdrops hold a special significance for many people who have been bereaved, a symbol of hope in a time of darkness.
Our bereavement group and additional support…
At Zoe’s Place we are here to support and help our parents throughout their journey of grief and loss. We support our bereaved parents in many ways, including a bereavement group, which is aimed at providing comfort and healing to the families who have lost a child.
Our bereavement group takes place every month and is a significant service of support to our families, including Faye and Lauren, who have ‘found the bereavement group extremely beneficial’.
An important part of our bereavement group is legacy building, this is a chance to help our parents capture memories which will live on after the loss of a child. We offer different keepsakes to help with the memory making, these include toys, memory books, canvases and other cherished items which hold special significance to the families.
We are proud of our bereavement group and being able to see the difference it makes to our families. The group enables people who have experienced similar situations to come together, talk and support each other.
‘These groups make you feel at ease and remove the taboo when talking about your situation. You realise you are not alone and what you feel and experience is the same for others too,’ explains Faye and Lauren.
During the bereavement group sessions, parents and siblings have the opportunity to focus on different therapies each time to help them.
Faye and Lauren have been a part of the recent sessions which have focused on art therapy.
‘Although we are not artistic, we really enjoyed them. It allows you to switch off and relax in a calm and peaceful setting.’
Art can be such a powerful tool – art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art as a way to communicate and express feelings.
Misha, our Play Specialist explains, ‘Our bereavement groups are a time for families to connect with each other and create an extended network of support. We have monthly groups to allow parents to express grief in a safe and supported space through different creative means such as decorating stones for our memorial garden. We also have regular days and events that occur through the year which the families have found helpful.’
Our newly renovated Memorial Garden, stands as a symbol of remembrance. Filled with flowers and wind chimes, it gives the opportunity for parents to create something beautiful in memory of their child.
Creating memories that will be cherished…
When a family uses our Snowdrop Suite, Zoe’s Place staff are there to provide support in many different ways, from our legacy building to helping with funeral arrangements.
When parents find themselves in this unimaginable situation, it can be hard to know what to do, that’s where Zoe’s Place can help, we can arrange visits with the funeral directors, offer support and provide invaluable information.
‘Having their support during this time removed a huge amount of pressure and allowed us to focus on Sofia. Zoe’s Place offers the time and resources needed for families to make the right decisions for them,’ Faye and Lauren explain.
Zoe’s Place works closely with other organisations including, Love Jasmine, Ruben’s Roar, 4Louis and Hope Street Casting to name a few. These organisations enable us to support the family in so many ways, from counselling sessions to cast making, it is about keeping the memory alive and ensuring the family feels supported.
Faye and Lauren have highlighted how grateful they are to Sian and Jan from Ruben’s Roar, a local bereavement charity who visited Zoe’s Place to help create a hand casting of Faye, Lauren and Sofia.
‘After spending the day doing an activity with Sofia, it made us realise that we needed to embrace what little time we had with her. We treasure the day and the hand cast so much.’
These memories and moments are something that will stay with the families forever. We encourage our families to create keepsake boxes, these are kindly donated by 4Louis and include different keepsakes to help with memory making. In the box there are hand-made keepsakes, so parents can always feel close to their child.
‘The bears and hearts were in pairs, we kept one and Sofia kept the other. We decided to keep these in Sofia’s crib during our stay at Zoe’s Place, so we now have items which we kept close to her.’
Once a family leaves the Snowdrop Suite, the support continues. We stay in contact with the families and introduce them to other organisations that can also offer additional support. Zoe’s Place works closely with Love Jasmine, a charity that provides counselling to bereaved families.
Faye and Lauren have attended support sessions, whether that be group or individual sessions and they have benefitted from these immensely.
‘Although you are going through the most challenging time, you come across so many genuine, loving, and inspiring people who just want to help.’
Counselling sessions can take place at Zoe’s Place or off site. The sessions offer a supportive environment for families to express their feelings, fears and hopes while receiving expert guidance to navigate this emotional journey.
If you, or someone you know would like more information on the support available you can find out more below:
Rubens Roar: Bereavement Charity In Liverpool – Ruben’s Roar