Support and sympathy for grieving mothers

By Merania Karauria

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Amanda Weck PHOTO/FILE
Amanda Weck PHOTO/FILE

Wanganui woman Amanda Weck was in Arizona last year when she miscarried her son Phoenix at 18 weeks.

Ms Weck was attending a Mothers in Sympathy and Support (MISS) Foundation seminar at the time and it was the fourth time she had lost a baby.

While there, she was supported by American woman Melissa Flint through her loss. Dr Flint, the assistant director of the clinical psychology programme at the Midwestern University in Arizona, first came to MISS when her son was stillborn in 2001.

And this week Dr Flint, husband Martin and their daughter Isabella have been in Wanganui visiting Ms Weck, husband Gary and their new 4-week-old daughter, Olivia, and her 8-year-old big sister, Kathleen. Kathleen was born at 25 weeks and "fought for life" while Olivia was born full-term though Ms Weck was hospitalised for several months beforehand.

Dr Flint said she attended the first of many MISS support groups, and soon realised that she wanted to serve others who had lost children.

Before she left Wanganui, Dr Flint and Ms Weck visited the Forrest Lawn Chapel where a special service will be held on October 15 to bring together those families whose children had died.

The service will be held at 6.45pm and is an opportunity to get together with other families who have had similar experiences.

Funeral director Julie Kenny said it would be a time "to sit, reflect and listen to poetry and music, light a candle for their souls and share supper at the end of the evening".

Ms Weck says while children lost under 20 weeks are considered a miscarriage, the loss of any pregnancy is painful. She said while she didn't "enjoy" talking about the topic she "liked to". "It's still a taboo subject. It's good to talk about any death. And these are still our children whether a miscarriage or stillborn: some still take breaths, or we bathe them and dress them and love them."

Some in the Wanganui community have shared how they supported their friends through their loss.

One mother said she had never suffered the loss of a child but as both a mother and a friend she was deeply touched by those who had. A friend of another said she saw "dreams shattered which was hard to witness. Loss changes that person forever and my friend will never be the same again".

A father said it was a life-changing lesson in how to find the right information to help his friend. "I know that remembering those precious angels means so much to her. On October 15 I'll be lighting a candle in memory of those angels. Please don't forget their names and please never be afraid to talk about them. You'll be amazed at how much it means."

MISS is an international volunteer-based organisation providing counselling, support and educational services to those who have experienced the death of a child of any age. The memorial at Forrest Lawn Chapel is part of a global ceremony in countries at dusk organised by MISS.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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