We lost our baby daughter, Leah Murphy, nearly seven years ago, on September 28th 2009.
She was ‘born asleep’ – or stillborn – and weighed just 2lbs. I was 27 weeks pregnant.
It was the toughest time of our whole lives. A stillbirth is totally against nature, maternal instincts, so sudden and unexpected and so life-changing.
At the time we were in total shock and in the depths of despair. I didn’t think we could ever recover and, to be truthful, part of me didn’t want to leave that place, because that’s where my daughter Leah was.
But time keeps ticking and life does, and must, go on. Many things changed that day and in the time after.
I still think of her every day and I talk to her and ask her to look out for me and my family. Some days she must be exhausted minding us all.
I still miss her and all the hopes and dreams I had for her. Seven years on, I still cry for her and I always will, she is very much part of me.
Being the parent of a stillborn child is a very lonely place. It is so difficult to know what to say to a parent that has lost a baby, or sometimes more than one. I can only imagine how tough it must be for parents who lose a child through illness or an accident.
Even the best meaning words can drive you mad. But please remember, I want you to remember my child, to speak his or her name, to be okay with me if I burst into tears – or if I don’t. It is an emotional minefield that changes every day, but please bear with me. We are fundamentally the same person, but we are learning to be a newer version of ourselves, shaped by tragic circumstances.
About two years after losing Leah I discovered Féileacáin, a charity started by parents who had lost babies themselves, and who do amazing work through support groups, memory boxes and cuddle cots. They never stray from their goal to support parents through this terrible time.
I also wanted to organise a Remembrance Mass for Leah, and for other families who had been through similar experiences. I organised the first Mass For Our Angels, which is now an annual event.
It’s a very special event where families who have lost very loved children, weeks ago or years ago, can openly remember and grieve for them. There is great support, and I hope comfort, to be found and it’s a lovely way to honour our children.
I manage my grief now, most days very well, some days not so. Would I give anything to have her here? Of course I would. But today we are who we are because of her, and I do believe she is always with us, minding us in tough times and sharing the good times with us. She is always part of me, part of us and part of our family.
Mass For Our Angels, Saturday 11th June, 3pm, St Fachtna’s Church, Glandore.See also www.féileacáin.ie