This month marks the 5th anniversary of my twin sons’ stillbirth.
It feels simultaneously a hundred years ago and as if it had just happened yesterday. There are days when it feels unreal, as though it happened to someone else rather than us. Then there are moments when I am back in that room where we hid from the happier births that took place elsewhere on the maternity ward.
It never goes away and I wouldn’t want it to no matter how much it hurts to remember that brief time when we got to hold our tiny sons together and just for a moment, pretend they were alive.
Anything can be a trigger to these memories.
The sight of a twin pram that should have been ours, the sugary red laces we consumed while we waited for induction, even songs or a lyric can take me back to that time in a heartbeat.
We were lucky enough to have ‘rainbow children’ but that doesn’t mean that our sons have been replaced or forgotten. They are part of our family and as our children get older we can talk to them more about their brothers and celebrate the birthdays they should have had together to keep them part of our lives and family.
It has taken me four years to get to the point where I could talk about them in the way I do now. I started writing about my sons and my grief as a way to work through all those complex feelings of grief, sadness and rage that followed their loss.
I wanted to share those stories and feelings to encourage other fathers to talk about their experiences and not feel alone.
I didn’t want other dads to feel that they had to believe unhelpful ideas about always having to be strong or expect that they could fix what can never be fixed. For years I believed in those ideas and had convinced myself I was coping.
I was wrong. I needed help and through charities like Twins Trust, Sands and Tommy’s I found the support I needed from people who understood.
When I write about my sons I am often called brave. I am not brave.
It’s sad that stigma and taboo around baby loss elevates talking about it to an act of bravery rather than simply being about a father talking about his sons.
It shows how much we need campaigns like #misCOURAGE and Baby Loss Awareness Week to help others to feel as though they have permission to talk of their lost children and find the support they need to live with their loss.
Read more from Richard at his blog, Shoebox full of Memories.
Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be a devastating experience. Baby Loss Awareness Week occurs every year to recognise the parents who have endured this heartbreak and honour the little ones they have lost.
'You never know what pages you might find, or people you might meet that could make this journey a little easier.'
'It isn’t easy reaching true positivity rather than just paying lip-service to it.'
Read more about Baby Loss Awareness Week 2016
Emma and her husband Tim tragically lost their baby daughter Lydie in 2010. Having since struggled to explain her death to their living children, Emma has now created a picture book to help other bereaved parents explore loss and grief with little ones.
Deborah is 37 and lives in Borehamwood with her caring and supportive husband Ben. Their baby Yaeli was sadly stillborn at 40 weeks + 1 day after Deborah noticed reduced movements.