There were moments when I was reading Zoë Clark-Coates’ first book, Saying Goodbye when I felt like Zoë had captured all my emotions about our four miscarriages. There are words and feelings that I still struggle to vocalise. Yet, Saying Goodbye has managed to capture all of these emotions and so much more.
For sadly Zoë Clark-Coates understands baby loss. In Saying Goodbye she shares her personal story of baby loss. And how she and her husband Andy faced the loss of five babies.
Shocked by the lack of support for those going through baby loss, Zoë and Andy decided to set up the charity The Mariposa Trust. A charity that now helps thousands of grieving parents and their families around the world each week.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and 9th – 15th October 2017 was Baby Loss Awareness Week. It’s now a week that is a shadowy feature in my life. It’s a week that I struggle with. A week when the grief of my four miscarriages comes to the fore. And it is a time when the loss of those babies weighs heavily on my heart.
This Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month I have the honour of interviewing the inspirational Zoë Clark-Coates about her book Saying Goodbye and about her work to support those of us who have experienced baby or neo-natal loss.
But before I share the interview with you, I wanted to give my thoughts about the book, Saying Goodbye.
Saying Goodbye by Zoë Clark-Coates – a review
I have to admit that when I was asked to review Zoë’s book, Saying Goodbye, I was worried that I would find it a very hard read. As I’ve been struggling with my mental health since Little Mister H was born in July 2016.
And I now believe that most of this stems from the years of heartbreak due to baby loss. During that time I never allowed myself to grieve. To process what had happened. So the grief and trauma of those miscarriages have now caught up with me.
Oh, how I wish that Zoë’s book had been around when I was going through our miscarriages. It would have helped me process the baby loss. And encourage me to grieve for the children that we never got to hold.
I haven’t taken a pencil or a packet of post-it notes to a book since my university degree. But my copy of Saying Goodbye has parts underlined and I’ve marked pages that spoke to me.
Saying Goodbye is a beautiful book. Zoë writes with compassion and from the heart. There were many times when I felt the book was speaking directly to me. And there was so much that I could relate to.
Yes, it was hard to read at times. You can’t help but feel devastated for Zoë and her husband Andy.
Overall, I just felt inspired by the way they both dealt with their grief. And how they then used that grief to form a charity that offers the support so many need.
90 days of support
Yet Saying Goodbye is not just a book about a personal experience of baby loss. Zoë has used her training as a counsellor to offer 90 days worth of daily support for those that are struggling from grief after baby loss. This support is invaluable. And using inspiring quotations, thoughts and activities Zoë takes your hand and guides you through your grief.
I’ve found reading Zoë’s book hugely cathartic. And beginning to work my way through the 90 days of support has helped me start to process my grief properly. And for that I’m very grateful.
An interview with Zoë Clark-Coates author of Saying Goodbye
1. Please can you tell me a little about yourself, your family and your personal experience of baby loss?
I’m Zoe, I’m married to Andy and we have 2 daughters, Esme and Bronte. Andy and I were 32 when we decided we would like to have children. Within months, I was pregnant and we were both so excited – but then the bleeding started. It was the first of 3 baby losses we suffered before Esme’s birth. Another 2 baby losses followed before Bronte arrived safely (her twin died during the pregnancy). We named our lost children Cobi, Darcy, Bailey, Samuel and Isabella.
2. At what point in your journey to have a family did you realise that you needed to do more to help other people experiencing baby loss?
When Bronte reached 6 months old, Andy and I both felt strongly that we wanted to do something to help others who had gone through baby loss. We talked about what would have helped us in our darkest hour, and that is when the idea of ‘Saying Goodbye’ was born.
3. And what services does Saying Goodbye offer?
The Mariposa Trust (also known as Saying Goodbye) is a charity with a number of divisions, including Saying Goodbye. Growing You offers support and advice to anyone who is pregnant following the loss of a baby or babies; Holding Hope provides support for people who are going through the IVF process; Waiting for You provides support for people who are working their way through the adoption process; Love in Every Tear supports family and friends of those going through baby loss. While So Cherished supports parents who are given the terrible news that their baby will die at birth or soon after due to illness of genetic issues.
The primary function of the charity is to support anyone who has been affected by the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy. This is provided through remembrance services at cathedrals and minsters, and via a support service which reaches over 50,000 people each week around the world.
We also want to change the taboo nature of baby loss, allowing for more open discussion. We are also working with a number of government and health professionals to improve the care and support of people pre, during and post baby loss.
The charity is supported by a wonderful set of trustees and an amazing team of volunteers working on fundraising, events, PR and raising awareness about baby loss across the UK and worldwide.
We are currently working closely with Baroness Floella Benjamin on a new bill for a national loss certificate for any baby lost before 24 weeks (as announced in the House of Lords in July).
4. What has been your proudest achievement since starting the charity?
The fact that the charity offers support to over 50,000 people each week – to know it’s helping that many people is a dream come true.
5. What was your inspiration behind writing your first book Saying Goodbye?
When I was going through loss, I had needed two things: personal stories I could relate to, and something I could pick up daily to give me support. So this is the book that I set out to write in Saying Goodbye.
First and foremost, this is a book for people who have lost a baby, but I hope it will also help family, friends and health professionals who want to gain insights into baby loss and to support those who are going through this process.
6. How will reading the book help someone who has lost a baby?
I hope that it will show them that they are not alone, and there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. It also offers 90 days of valuable support, whether someone’s loss is recent or 80 years ago.
7. What advice would you give to someone who has just had their first miscarriage?
I would encourage you to grieve at your own pace – there is no right or wrong way. Keep talking, however hard it feels. The brain comes to terms with trauma by talking about it, so the more you tell your story, the more your brain can accept what has happened and move forward.
Don’t try to get back to the person you were before your loss. Losing a baby changes you and the more you go looking for the person you once were, the harder it becomes. Instead, focus on the new person you are and move forward from this place. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for help – there is no shame in asking for assistance.
8. And what advice would you give to a person who is supporting someone going through baby loss?
I would say that people in a state of grief often struggle to reach out for support, so it’s important to be direct. Don’t just say, ‘call me if you need anything’. Offer to bring a cooked meal for the next week instead. Be willing to listen to the same story over and over again.
When people are grieving, their brain finds it hard to come to terms with the loss and trauma. Recovery starts with talking, so simply sit and listen. And don’t be scared to ask how they are doing. So many people fear raising the subject of baby loss in case it triggers upset, but in fact it reminds people that they are loved.
Thank you so much to Zoë for appearing on my blog today. And for answering my questions in such a thoughtful and inspiring manner.
You can learn more about Zoë on her website and you can read many inspiring articles that she has written about baby loss on her Huffington Post page. Her book Saying Goodbye is available to buy as hardback and in Kindle format on Amazon.
A copy of the book “Saying Goodbye” was sent to me for the purpose of this post. But as always I have written honestly about my thoughts and feelings on this remarkable book. I have also admired Zoë for a long time and feel truly honoured to feature her on my blog.
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