Blanchardstown charity offering support for bereaved parents

by Sylvia Pownall

A charity which supports bereaved parents has told how the demand for its services peak in September as children are going back to school.

A Little Lifetime Foundation, which is based in Blanchardstown, has been helping those affected by infant death since 1983.

Founder and chairperson Mary McGrath, who lives in Balbriggan, revealed that the month of September is the one most parents find most difficult.

Mary (47) told Dublin Gazette: “This time of year with children going back to school is hugely busy, because people are so sad that their child isn’t there.

“We provide an outlet for them – here, you don’t have to explain why the first day at school would be so hard, because everyone feels the same way.”

Mary, who lost her baby son in 2007, has been going to support meetings ever since and said it offered a lifeline at a time when she felt she could not carry on.

She revealed: “It was vital; I don’t actually know where I’d be today without it because they just let you say whatever is on your mind. You listen, and it resonates with you.

“That can be so healing, because you don’t know as a newly bereaved parent what is normal to feel; you think maybe you are just going mad. You’re in such a dark place yourself, it’s very, very comforting.”

Formerly the Irish Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society (ISANDS), ALLF was founded by a group of parents whose babies passed away around birth or were stillborn. At the time there was no support for grieving families.

Mary recalls: “Up until then babies were just whisked away; the parents never saw them at all.

“We also have special meetings for newly bereaved parents, who are very raw.

“There are meetings for mums and dads who are expecting a subsequent baby because there’s a lot of anxiety and guilt there. There is a group for parents who have lost a twin.”

Mary says the charity was “honoured” to be chosen as the beneficiary for the annual fundraising day at Sheridan’s Pharmacy in Roselawn, Blanchardstown.

She said: “We have a lot of interest around Blanchardstown because it’s such a young community. It’s hard to get the word out so anything that can spread awareness is fantastic.

“You don’t know when the day will come when you need that help. You’ve such a short time with your baby in hospital; it’s so important that you feel supported.

“We do gowns that are made from donated wedding dresses and the parents can bury their baby in that. We want people to know that when they get that devastating news, we can help.”

A Little Lifetime Foundation is hosting a charity ball on November 17 in the Crown Plaza, Blanchardstown. For tickets, see here, or visit the Facebook page.

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