Welcome to the latest addition to the It Still Takes a Village – Working in Baby Loss Interview Series where we take a closer look at those who dedicate their day to day to preventing baby loss and supporting those affected. You can read more interviews, here.
I personally found planning my son’s funeral one of the most challenging aspects of the whole few weeks surrounding his death and birth. Funeral Directors are often the unsung heroes in the entire process, so I am really pleased to have a space for them on this blog series today. I have been aware of the work that AH Rogers & Sons do through the network of bereaved parents in the Southampton area, and have met them and seen first hand the support that they provide. Please, meet Nicky and Lisa…
So, to start us off, please can you let us know a little about your current role?
We are Nicky and Lisa we work for AH Rogers & Sons Funeral Directors in Eastleigh Hampshire. We work with over 100 families a year who come to us through the loss of a baby at various stages of pregnancy including still born. We have been working together for over two years now and have the privilege of working with our families at what is the most difficult time for them. We work with families to ensure that they are able to have the funeral service they feel most fitting for their little one. We have facilities for them to spend time with their little one in our dedicated baby chapel. We were kindly donated a Cuddle Cot through SANDS which has proved to be invaluable. We give the families time to grieve and a safe space in which to do so. We are able to re-dress the baby so that the first precious outfit can be kept as a cherished memory. We offer support both during the planning stages and we also keep in touch with so many of our families who pop in for a coffee in our snug area.
“We work with families to ensure that they are able to have the funeral service they feel most fitting for their little one.”
What are you currently working on? Is there a particular project or aim that you’d like to share with people.
At the moment we are working on projects for Baby Loss Awareness Week. We are supporting several events by attending, Providing and serving refreshments and being there to support families emotionally. We are designing and producing orders of service, and preparing forget me not seeds and tiny knitted teddies.
What motivated you to do the job/role that you are doing now?
We have been privileged to meet some truly amazing families and support them through their darkest times. We are given the opportunity to care for their precious little one at a time they cannot themselves. We saw that the service provided was limited and have been given the opportunity to personalise the service and to care for the families in a way as individual to them as their little one.
In what ways does your current job/role allow you to get involved in the baby loss cause?
We are involved in the cause in such a variety of ways including donations of knitted items and toiletries from our collection point at our branch. Hosting and supporting Aching Arms tea parties, Social media to raise awareness, Forget me not services and attending other events. We are very much at the forefront of care for the families we work with and walk with them through their journey of loss.
What are the biggest frustrations or constraints that you face in supporting those affected by baby loss or preventing baby loss in the first place?
The biggest constraint is perception of baby loss in the wider community and the opportunity to provide a bespoke funeral service being limited to time and costs.
“We saw that the service provided was limited and have been given the opportunity to personalise the service and to care for the families in a way as individual to them as their little one”
Do you think that Baby Loss is still a taboo, and if so, why? Do you encounter issues with it being a taboo in your day to day work?
When we talk to people about our roles sometimes they become uncomfortable with the concept of baby loss and are reluctant to acknowledge just how many families are affected by baby loss.
Who else do you work alongside in terms of baby loss support or prevention? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague/volunteer that you couldn’t manage without?
We have a fantastic and supportive relationship with the Midwives at Princess Anne Hospital and The Chaplaincy team at Southampton General Hospital. The support of our local crematoriums at both Southampton and Wessex Vale is invaluable too.
When the job/role is hard, what one thing reminds you to keep on keeping on?
The great friends and network of support that we have reminds us constantly to strive to do our best for all the famiiles that come into our care.
We are in a shift change with the understanding and awareness of baby loss. What would you say to someone just starting out in a job/role associated to baby loss?
Our best advice would definitely be to be proud of the role you are undertaking and to value the support of your colleagues.
It’s likely that a newly bereaved parent is reading this. What would you like to say to them?
We would like to assure them that it is a privilege for us to look after their little one and that we will do all we can to support them on this journey and to support the legacy that their most precious one leaves behind.
We have some ambitious targets for baby loss currently in the UK. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms of maternity and baby loss?
We of course would love to see the statistics improve and less and less families be on this journey. We will also continue to provide the absolute best service that we can.
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This blog post is part of an ongoing spotlight on those working in baby loss. To read more from It Still Takes a Village series, visit the hub page here.