Trek to Honour Finn

Guest post by Lauren Holden, Finn’s Mum

My husband, Paul, and I were so thrilled to be expecting our first baby. We were both in our forties and excited about introducing our child to all the wonderful people, places and creatures in the world. The nursery was ready and we had spent months choosing the absolute best for our baby.

And then the world came crashing down. And life shifted. We said hello to our beautiful boy and then goodbye. All of our hopes and dreams for our future with him were gone.

In the bleakness of the days, weeks and months that followed, when everyone else’s lives went back to “normal”, we reached out to Sands. The midwives had given us information about Sands, and desperate to talk with others who knew what we were going through, we gave them a call. I had many conversations with Rachel who had lost her first baby in similar circumstances and just talking with someone who could understand exactly how I was feeling was so hugely important. I can’t put a price on the value of that. Paul and I have also attended some of the Walk to Remember days in Brisbane and again felt that comfort of understanding and not being alone. Saying Finn’s name at the Walk days also means a lot to us – we don’t get to say his name nearly enough.

Inspired by Turia Pitt, we have decided to fundraise for Sands, in honour of Finn, by trekking the Great Wall of China. We’ve set ourselves a minimum target of $5000 (and hopefully a lot more!). Our nephew, Ben, and good friend, Kate, are joining us on the trek and raising funds. We were so honoured when they told us they were going to join us. It’s such a significant acknowledgement of Finn’s life and makes us so proud.

L-R, Ben, Paul and Lauren Holden, Kate Lipke.

L-R, Ben, Paul and Lauren Holden, Kate Lipke.

Our trek starts on 24 October on the Great Wall, camping near villages along the way, and on the last day of the trek, 29 October – Finn’s 4th birthday – we summit Bejing Tower. We think that’s a pretty cool way to celebrate our little man’s birthday. Just the sort of thing we would have encouraged him to do.

 

You can support and donate to Trek to Honour Finn at Everyday Hero HERE

 

 

 

Links

Sands Queensland Walk to Remember October 2015

How to I get involved with Sands Queensland?

Sands Queensland support resources

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Team Hayley 2015

Guest post by Kara Smith who is participating in this year’s Bridge to Brisbane

In May 2013 our second daughter, Hayley, was stillborn. It felt like our worlds came to a halt and souls were shattered. My husband and I have always been overweight but started making changes when our first daughter was on the way. However, after losing Hayley we sort of rebelled against the universe through junk food and put back on some of the weight we had lost. We decided we couldn’t keep going like that, so for all of our children and our health we again decided to make a change.

Why do the Bridge to Brisbane? Bridge to Brisbane offers many opportunities – a goal, a benchmark to improve on each year, a way to show our girls fitness, but most importantly a way to honour of our darling angel, Hayley and spread the stillbirth and Sands Queensland awareness. We also fundraise through the Everyday Hero page for Sands Queensland in Hayley’s name. Last year we were joined by my in-laws to do the 5km course. This year my husband and I will be doing the 10km course and my in-laws are back to do the 5km course again, for Hayley and other beautiful angels taken too soon. They will be joined by my sister-in-law and cousin-in-law. Who knows who else may join in on this fledgling tradition.

Team Hayley in 2014

Team Hayley in 2014

What are we doing to prepare? My husband has been hitting the gym and is in the best shape of his life. After our girls are tucked into bed I take my dog for a brisk walk, even occasional jog. For safety reasons I do not wear headphones, so I am enjoying my time of quiet as well as the energy boost of endorphins from getting active. I have a lot of random thoughts and conversations, but my mind often also goes to Hayley and I feel her close, especially on those clear beautiful nights where the moon is full and everything is still. I am also planning ways to include Hayley, last year my eldest daughter (and I alternately) carried a pink pony balloon (Hayley’s totem), this year I am looking into shirts and possible a foil helium balloon.

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I look forward to walking this year and spending time with my family afterwards. I hope to be able to meet some of you at the course, if you see us please come up and say hello. Walking in honour of our sweet Hayley and proudly making a change.

If you would like to show your support to Kara, please make a donation at her Everyday Hero page HERE

Would you like to join the Sands Queensland crew at this years Bridge to Brisbane on August 30th?

To register, simply go to Bridge to Brisbane  and select ‘team’

For the 5km
Team Name: Team Sands Queensland
Number: 3123

For the 10km team
Team Name: Team Sands Queensland
Number: 22580

You can also join the Sands Queensland Team fundraising at Everyday Hero, just click on this link HERE and request to join the team.

We would love to hear all about you too, so if you would like to share your story, share your photos and inspiration you can join the event on Facebook HERE, email events@sandsqld.org.au or share on social media using #SaveSands.

 

Links

Family and Friends: How you can help bereaved parents. – Sands Queensland

Family and Friends support booklet from Sands Australia

How you can help – Volunteering with Sands Queensland

Volunteer Spotlight – Bev Homel

Bev is another of Sands Queensland’s long time members and volunteers who has contributed an enormous amount of her time and skills, helping to shape Sands into the organisation that it is. Her hard work and dedication to ensuring Sands Queensland is a supportive place for bereaved parents has been her greatest gift to Sands in memory of her daughter Rosalie and son Andrew.

‘I joined Sands in Western Australia shortly after Rosalie died and the support I received there kept me afloat through those first very hard six months.  I strongly believe in the principle of mutual support – we don’t come to Sands as clients in a subordinate role – we are all bereaved parents who support each other.  Therefore it was natural for me to keep involved with Sands so that newly bereaved parents would be helped as I had been helped.’

Attending the Sands Walk to Remember

Attending the Sands Walk to Remember

Parent volunteers supporting one another

Parent volunteers supporting one another

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bev has been involved in many aspects of Sands Queensland and is always a strong advocate for what we do – parents supporting parents.

‘Over the years I took on more management responsibilities, serving as President of Sands Qld for a number of years but I have always maintained a link to direct support because it keeps me in touch with why we exist – to help bereaved parents navigate the journey of grief.  Now I facilitate the monthly evening support meetings in Brisbane.’

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

Handing over the reigns of Committee President to Nicole.

We asked Bev what volunteering for Sands Queensland has given her, and she said, ‘A lot of worry and sleepless nights and deep satisfaction that it’s been worthwhile and has helped other people.’

Sands Queensland can not thank you enough Bev for all you have done.

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Volunteer Spotlight – Marion Grimmett

Marion is one of our long standing Sands members, who has been volunteering with us for about 30 years and fondly refers to herself as ‘the old Sands bag’. Of course she is nothing of the sort. Marion brings her energy and enthusiasm for getting a job done every volunteer day at Sands House and is always a willing listener for new parents and volunteers.

Celebrating Marions birthday at Sands House

Celebrating Marions birthday at Sands House

Marion found support at Sands in the 1980’s, many years after the death of her son John in 1960. Over the years she has been involved in many Sands Queensland support opportunities, events and fundraising.

‘We were finally allowed to grieve and have our son acknowledged after so many years of not being able to mention his existence.’ ~ Marion

On volunteering for Sands Marion said,

‘Age is slowing me down, I use to help one day a week in the office, but I still like to help on Newsletter day, and make little wraps and beanies for the tiny ones. 

I remember the many times of being able to sit with parents and listen and often cry with them. And later hearing how Sands has helped them. It was just natural to help others, if possible, in their grief journey, as we had been helped in ours.’

Marion makes beautiful sets for the Sands Butterfly group

Marion makes beautiful sets for the Sands Butterfly group

Thank you Marion for your years of dedication to helping Sands Queensland continue to support and be there for bereaved parents. Your warmth and compassion is an asset to us.

 

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Volunteer Spotlight – Kate Minto

As part of National Volunteer Week we are going to introduce you to some of our amazing volunteers. Sands Queensland could not operate the way it does without these inspiring people who give their time, energy and heart so enthusiastically.

 

Our first volunteer in the spotlight is Kate Minto.

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Kate Minto (right) and Cairns Regional Contact Nerissa

 

Kate first came to Sands for support in  2012 after the death of her son Fletcher and over time has become an extremely valuable volunteer in Cairns as well as on a state level.

In 2014 Kate became Butterfly Coordinator in Cairns, organising the making and distribution of the Sands Queensland memory bag and bereavement clothing. Her dedication to her role has seen her donate over 30 memory bags and over 100 items of clothing to hospitals locally and further in North Queensland.

Donations ready to go to hospital

Donations ready to go to hospital

 

‘It is my absolute pleasure to nominate Kate Minto as a volunteer who has made a difference at Sands. Kate has made an amazing difference to the work Sands does in supporting families across Queensland, including Cairns.

Kate has worked tirelessly to supply Cairns and surrounding areas hospitals with items for families who are touched by pregnancy and infant loss. She is always the first to put her hand up to volunteer for any event in Cairns and played a crucial role in the fundraising and purchase of the Cuddle Cot and camera for the Cairns Hospital. Just recently Kate organised an event that fundraised over $1000 for Sands and is running the Queensland Online Mother’s Day Handmade Market, the Cairns Bereaved Mother’s Day morning tea and Walk to Remember in Cairns this year. Kate’s approach to all of these activities is done with care and respect for all those she works with.

Kate is also a parent supporter for Sands, online, at support groups and on the 1300 line. She has such compassion, genuineness and warmth about her that people really appreciate.

Kate does all this while juggling three small children and a household. Kate is an amazing volunteer for Sands Queensland.

~ Nerissa, Sands Queensland Committee member and Cairns Regional Contact

When asked why she volunteers for Sands, Kate said

‘I have been thinking about this and for me something I have found at all the events and through talking to people is that what we do really does make a difference and it helps people to feel like they are not alone. So many people feel alone in their grief, & I felt the same way until I found Sands.  It is so wonderful to be given the opportunity to volunteer and give something back whilst helping other families know that there is support.’

Thank you Kate from all of us at Sands Queensland. We truly do appreciate all that you have done and continue to do.

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Save Sands

2015 is the year we have to Save Sands as our current grant funding will end in December.

More than ever, Sands Queensland needs help to provide essential support for parents who face the tragic death of their baby during pregnancy, at birth or in the neonatal period. Around 700 families face the heartbreak of stillbirth and neonatal death every year thousands more have to deal with miscarriage and early pregnancy loss.

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Sands support service include; phone, email, online and face to face support for bereaved families, along with support and education for professionals.

 

Post by Nicole Ireland, Sands Queensland Committee President

There is nothing in the world that can prepare you for the heartbreak and the sheer devastation – particularly the agony of leaving the hospital without your much loved and longed for baby. Nine years on I remember walking out of that hospital so vividly that I still struggle to go back there today.

 Worse still, what do you do when you get home to the nursery that is all set up and waiting for your new baby – a nursery that you have loving put together and now may never get to use. Instead of agonising over the best pram to buy, it’s trying to figure out how to go on.

 More than feeling like something is missing, you feel like something has been ripped out of you and nine years later the feeling is still there – not every day but still there in the quiet moments and on every family and special occasion. When you meet new people who ask you how many children you have and when you have to explain to your other children why Mummy sometimes gets really sad.

 Family and friends do everything they can to help and we have had amazing support – much of it overwhelming. But sometimes you need more than that.

 At the beginning and for the past nine years, I have relied on Sands as a place to belong, a place where it’s okay to talk about my son and how I feel, a place where I can help others and, now, a place to give back.

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

Nicole took on the role of Committee President in 2013, here with outgoing president Bev Homel

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Nicole and Sands Queensland founding member Judy Clarkson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sands is all about parents helping parents and is an amazing group of parents and families who share the one thing they would love not to share and that is that their baby has died. It’s a club that no-one wants to join.

 It is also so, so very important to help parents through the grieving process and to make sure they know there is someone who understands. I despair to think what might happen if people don’t have this special place.

 Sands maintains an office and a small part-time staff to facilitate support, educational and memorial services across Queensland and to work with allied health professionals and other support services who help parents at the worst times of their lives.

Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

 It is, of course, my greatest wish that no more babies will die and that Sands won’t need to exist but that is just a fantasy. In the meantime, each year in Queensland approximately 1000 parents are affected by stillbirth and neonatal death and a further 20,000 parents experience the impact of early pregnancy loss.

 After many years of continued support, the Queensland Government offered Sands funding at its current level (approximately $80,000 per year) until December 2015 after which time funding will cease.

 That means, this essential service is at risk of shutting down because the core funding will cease at the end of this year. We have a plan in place to look at other ways to survive but this will take time to deliver. For this reason we are working as hard as we can to “Save Sands”.

 I don’t want other parents to find themselves lost and alone in dealing with the death of their baby and I know that Sands is the only group that continue to provide support and help for parents, families, the community and all of those people who engage with bereaved parents in their darkest days.

Our son forever changed our lives and I hope that in his memory I can help to Save Sands.

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Nicole and her daughters releasing a butterfly in memory of Nicholas at the Sands Walk to Remember

 

 

On June 19th, 2015, Nicole will be hosting a #SaveSands Gala in Brisbane we would love for you to attend. All information can be found HERE. It will be a wonderful night with Rebecca Sparrow as guest MC, entertainment by Pheonix, silent auction and an amazing special raffle where one lucky guest will take home a beautiful piece of jewellery from Canturi.

For those not in the Brisbane are who would like to find out how they can help to #SaveSands, please contact our head office or follow Sands on Facebook for more information.

 

Make a donation today

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sands Queensland and National Volunteer Week 2015

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Established in 1989, National Volunteer Week is the largest celebration of volunteers and volunteerism in Australia, and provides an opportunity to highlight the role of volunteers in our community and to say thank you.

Volunteering Australia has announced this years’ theme – Give Happy, Live Happy and we want to hear from our members about your volunteering or how a Sands volunteer has made a difference to you. We rely heavily on our amazing volunteers and this would be a wonderful opportunity to give them that extra recognition and word of thanks that they deserve.

 

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Nominate a Sands Queensland volunteer who has made a difference to you.

The volunteer can be a past or present volunteer who has a positive impact on you.

How to nominate: include the volunteers name and details about why you have nominated them.

 

Share your positive volunteering experience with Sands Queensland.

Write and tell us how you volunteered and what it meant to you. Did it help you connect with your family and community? Did it have a positive impact on your grief journey?

If you have a photo to go with your story, please attach as a full size jpeg file.

Nominations and volunteering stories can be sent to events@sandsqld.org.au by April 25th.

 

All volunteers who submit a story and nominees will receive a special award from Sands Queensland during Volunteer Week. Stories and nominations will be shared via our members newsletter ‘Hourglass’ and Sands Queensland Facebook page.

Join us for Volunteer Week May 11th – 17th and celebrate the difference we all make.