My name is Fiona and I am a bereaved mum and Befriender for The Lullaby Trust. Befrienders are bereaved parents and relatives who offer specialist, confidential listening support for other families who have lost a baby, for as long as they need us.
I was given Emma’s phone number at the end of January this year. This was 15 weeks after her beautiful baby daughter had died, aged just 8 weeks. This, of course, was very early on in her journey, and she was at the stage of blaming herself for having been asleep in the night when Ríoghnach died. Emma was naturally very worried in case her other daughter, who is three years of age, died in her sleep, which meant Emma was desperately sleep deprived.
I think Emma was wanting to find out a reason, but I tried to gently explain that they probably wouldn’t find anything if it was SIDS. She told me that she was back at university and I told her that I thought she was incredible for managing to study.
I think the way our relationship has developed over time is that a deeper level of trust has developed, so that Emma feels comfortable about opening up and sharing other difficulties in her life, and the effects of grief on other family members. I feel I can support Emma emotionally, by listening, encouraging her that she is doing ok, and understanding what she is going through as only a bereaved parent can. When it is appropriate I share my story with Emma. I encourage her to explore her feelings, which she finds very easy. Emma is very open and honest about how she is feeling.
I find the befriending process rewarding because as I support a bereaved mother along the journey, (it’s a journey none of us wanted to take), I become aware of her learning to live with the pain and over time we all have to accept our new normal lives. I reckon this journey is made easier with a friend by your side. I think it helps bereaved parents to realise that Befrienders have survived this life-changing event.
If you are interested in becoming a trained Befriender, you can find out more here.