through it and a little laughter does no harm along the way.I knew I did not want to say goodbye to Alison too quickly. We visited her almost every day in the mortuary chapel. A week after Alison was born we held a service for her in the chapel of the hospital. I trusted the arrangements to the Chaplain and she did not disappoint us. We had the most beautiful service and said our last goodbye to our beautiful little princess in the chapel. The Chaplain had arranged for Alison to be taken by the funeral undertakers to Glasnevin crematorium. We did not attend Glasnevin crematorium, our goodbyes were said in the chapel. Walking away from the chapel I realised that we had made the right decision with regard to Alison's funeral arrangements. Sometime later my husband collected Alison's ashes and they are now kept in our house. We had intended to scatter them in the Phoenix Park, but for now we prefer to keep them in our house. I think that one day they can be scattered with the ashes of her Mum and Dad.Even though we had lost our daughter I felt grateful for so many things. Grateful that I had been sick during my pregnancy because instead of being at work, I was at home resting and feeling every movement she made, this was my quality time with her. Grateful to the hospital staff for such a wonderful experience. Grateful that we knew how our baby died. Grateful that we had her for one week after she was born. Grateful that we made the right decision in how we would say good bye. Grateful that she was born at Christmas time because the excitement and energy from the girls brought us along those difficult first days.The following days and weeks were a blur. I think one just exists, going through the daily motions, our two daughters kept us busy, kept us going. Support from so many people was astounding, family, friends, neighbours, our parish priest, our community, work colleagues and even people unknown to us posted cards and presents through our letterbox. We were prayed for at all masses on Christmas Day, this gave me such strength. At times like this support is so important and we received so much support it was fantastic - it carried us along, on our painful journey. The next weeks went into months and six months down the road I seemed to hit a brick wall. I couldn't deal with life, I couldn't deal with people's insensitivity, I became very depressed and went to see a counsellor. I found counselling very difficult, tiring, and draining. I could only attend once every 3 weeks. For one hour my brain was fried, one week stewing on what was said, one week trying to figure it all out and one week's rest before the next session. I felt annoyed, angry and frustrated but by the end of counselling I came out a very different and much better person. My counsellor said I could not accept that my child had died. I could have punched him, how can a parent accept that their child has died, it is the most unnatural thing in the world. Over time my feelings changed, I took long walks to think things over, I listened to music that touched me, I talked to my close friends - they listened. I never thought I could say this, I have accepted that my daughter has died, I say this with peace and calmness in my heart. As the months passed family, friends and neighbours never tired of listening to my story, my feelings, going round and round in circles saying the same thing over and over again. When my husband was away on business, during the early hours of the morning, I often sat outside the front door, devastated and heartbroken (unable to sit indoors because I felt the house was falling in on me). My neighbour would come out of her house, we'd chat and 30 minutes later I'd be laughing and able to go back inside and get some sleep. I have several similar stories of such kindness, you can't put a price on friendship like that.In November I felt I would be able to go back to work, but my counsellor thought it best if I got through Alison's anniversary and Christmas and went back in the new year. I was out of work for one year and when I did go back to work at the beginning of January I was in a much better place. I could not have returned any earlier or I would have just fallen apart. I had a few melt-down moments but on the whole I feel I have coped well and am very happy to be back at work now.Kate joined the peer support group Rainbows. Rainbows was a safe environment where Kate could talk about her sister and her own feelings. Kate says she really liked Rainbows as it helped her understand her feelings and I think it gave her the inner peace that I achieved through counselling. Kate also says she likes reading other peoples stories in the Isands magazine because she then knows that it is not only her that has lost a baby sister. Kate and Emma regularly talk about Alison and they ask lots of questions about her, like where she would have sat in the car, at the table, who feeds her in heaven.To commemorate Alison we had an engraved plaque placed on a pew in our local church and we had a brick in the path around the church engraved with her name. We planted 100 daffodils in our garden, they flowered after Alison's 1st anniversary. We often light candles to remember her. We had an anniversary mass last Christmas to remember Alison and we visited the Oratory in the hospital on her birthday. Looking at the empty crib brought back feelings of our huge loss and a gratitude that we are still here, still supporting each other, still thinking of her and never forgetting her. On Alison's birthday Kate and Emma let balloons fly in the Phoenix Park. During the evening we lit a candle in a lantern and left it outside to burn overnight, it was reassuring to see the light still burn brightly the following morning when we drew the curtains.I feel blessed that Alison entered our lives and continues to be part of our lives. Our lives have been enriched, we live life differently, more focus on spending time with family and friends. Having lost a child I now live life for the two of us.Life is not judged by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. After all we have been through, I have never, ever, wished we didn't have Alison. We are forever blessed to have had our Christmas baby. Our beautiful darling Alison Rachel Jane, happy Christmas and happy 2nd birthday on 23rd December 2010.Mum, Dad, Kate & Emma xxxxYvette O'BrienA wife who has lost her husband, a widow. A husband who has lost his wife, a widower.A child who has lost his / her parents, an orphan.A parent who has lost their child, there is no word.There is no word for a parent who has lost their child, No word can truly describe the horror of it all.
30 May 2009To my dearest, darling CillianToday is your due date. A date etched into my mind and into my calendar. This was the day I had waited 9 months for to finally meet you and you to meet me but we never got that chance. Instead, today is the day you'll be buried with your Grandad.Still, I'd like to think I knew you. You lived your short life within my body. I felt every move you made and over these 9 months I began to discover the personality of my little man.You liked to dance, especially at night and I'm sure that if you were still with me you could be a regular night clubber when you were older.I first felt you move at a Coldplay concert. You liked 2 songs in particular, Yellow and Politik. I was a very proud mum that night because my son had such good taste in music. However, recently I caught you getting quite excited at a Westlife song, but I'm sure you were just having an off day!Your dad was so sure you would be a Tottenham Hotspur supporter that he bought you hats, mittens, booties and vests, though I'm sure you would've shown him that you were actually a proper football fan and been a Liverpool supporter just like mum! Dad though has parted with a Spurs pin and given it to you to mind for him until we see you again when it's our time to make the journey you are making today.Cillian, though you are travelling alone, please don't be afraid. I know I'm not with you to hold your hand but I'm watching out for you every step of the way. Grandad is waiting for you and you will have a ball with him. I'm sure when it's time for Dad and I to make the journey to you you'll be thinking playtime is over.Just before I go, I want you to know that you were loved from the very beginning to the very end of your life and this love hasn't ended. It will continue with Dad and I and any brothers or sisters that may come. You will forever be in our hearts.It's time now for me to say goodbye though I will call in to chat every once in a while.Farewell Cillian, my beautiful, beautiful son.Love MumxxxNicola Smith wrote this letter to her son, Cillian James Smith, on the day of his funeral