City talk on how to cope with the loss of a child

A national organisation, set up by a Galway couple which provides support services for bereaved parents and families, will hold a bereavement information evening in the city next week.

Anam Cara was co-founded in 2008 by Galway parents Sharon Vard who lived in Oughterard and attended the Mercy school in Newtownsmith, and her husband Aiden Murphy from Dangan. They live in Dublin and set up the organisation following the death of their daughter Rachel from an inoperable brain tumour in November 2004.

The guest speaker at the information evening, which will be held at the Maldron Hotel, Headford Road, on Wednesday February 17, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, will be Patricia Wilson. She has more than 20 years experience in counselling and psychotherapy. Based at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, she has been involved with the hospice home care team since its foundation in 1987. She is an accredited clinical supervisor, tutor and facilitator and is a senior tutor on the Irish Hospice Foundation’s post graduate course on Children and Loss accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Ms Wilson has a special interest in working with children and families dealing with all types of loss.

This free event will give parents an opportunity to hear an experienced bereavement professional talk about the many challenges families may face after the death of their son or daughter. The talk is open to all bereaved parents, regardless of the age of their child or the circumstances of their death. There will be time on the evening for questions and to speak to other bereaved parents.

People who have attended a previous bereavement information evening are encouraged to come again as the organisers say they will hear something different that will help them along their grief journey.

People interested in attending are asked to RSVP to [email protected] before Tuesday or telephone (01 ) 4045378 or (087 ) 9637790.

Meanwhile Anam Cara has launched a resource pack aimed at supporting newly bereaved parents. Each pack contains specific information on what helped other bereaved parents to get through the first weeks and months of bereavement.

The charity, which supported more than 170 bereaved Galway parents last year, is urging frontline professionals including chaplains, social workers, funeral directors, An Garda Síochána, palliative care teams, doctors and nurses who come in to contact with newly bereaved parents to get in touch with them to request the free packs. Packs can be requested by emailing [email protected] or telephoning (01 ) 4045378. They can also be downloaded from Anam Cara’s website at http://anamcara.ie/resources/coping-with-grief/bereaved-parents/

There are seven booklets in the resource pack, which is aimed at supporting parents and siblings in a newly bereaved family – A Dad’s Grief, A Mum’s Grief, Adult Siblings, Coping with the Sudden Death of My Child, Milestones and Challenges, Self-Care and Supporting My Family.

Anam Cara founder, Sharon Vard, who now works as a trainer but previously worked in Katz boutique and Celtic International in Galway, says it is important to ensure that any parent suffering the “terrible and unimaginable ordeal” of losing a child knows that Anam Cara is there to help.

“Our newly launched packs are a powerful resource for any family experiencing the death of a child, irrespective of whether the child was a baby or a grown adult. Newly bereaved parents need others to put this information in to their hands at the earliest stage of their bereavement journey. They are very fragile in the first few months and may not have the energy to pick up the phone or actively look for help.

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