Anam Cara – providing support for bereaved parents

Anam Cara is acutely aware that throughout the island of Ireland every day there are bereaved mothers and fathers left bereft and devastated by the death of their child in circumstances that include accidents in the home or workplace, road traffic collisions, life threatening illnesses, or by suicide. The death of a child, of any age, is devastating and isolating experience for every family member

Sharon Vard, CEO of Anam Cara describes the death of your child is an “unimaginable nightmare” but said that, with support, parents can “learn to cope with the overwhelming sense of loss”.

Sadly, the much needed comfort and support of extended family, friends, neighbors and colleagues is constrained due to the current Covid 19 Virus outbreak.  The restrictions in place around funerals and social distancing is impacting bereaved parents, causing them to feel further isolated with their grief and loss, not knowing where to turn. How do you start to choose the 10 people to attend your child’s funeral?

Paula Townley (P. Townley Funeral directors, Drogheda) commented.”In our 30+ years’ experience, the death of every child or young person is uniquely devastating and impacts their family, friends and community. We want families to know that their funeral director understands and will support them through these difficult times”

 Anam Cara has swiftly responded to these new restrictions by developing and producing 8 online Bereavement Support video vignettes to help bereaved mother and fathers at this very difficult time.  These clips will complement the Anam Cara videos and information Pack already available on anamcara.ie  which were compiled by bereaved parents for bereaved parents.

Vard continues with “Anam Cara trust these online short videos will offer a little ray of hope and be a powerful resource in these challenging times along with our other online resources. We want parents to know that Anam Cara is here now, today and into the future supporting families after the devastating loss of a child

Available Anam Cara Resources include:

Anam Cara support services continue to be delivered. For parents who do not have access to the internet, the Anam Cara central office will be manned, as usual, from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and offer telephone support on 085 2888 888 or 01 4045378.  On request Anam Cara will post the Anam Cara Information Packs and other information leaflets.

By clicking on the links below will bring parents to other online resources Anam Cara provides. They are:

The Anam Cara website contains relevant information for bereaved parents including links to Anam Cara’s information pack.  This pack contains the leaflets; A Fathers grief, A Mothers Grief, Coping with the Sudden death of my Child, Milestones and Challenges, Self-Care, Supporting my Family, Living with no Surviving Children.

Bereaved parents can also access the Anam Cara Support Videos . These, we hope, will help parents feel less isolated in these challenging times

Anam Cara’s Facebook Page will be updated regularly and it is a good place for bereaved parents to keep in touch.

About Anam Cara – www.anamcara.ie  Anam Cara was founded in 2008, by bereaved parents to address the lack of bereavement support services available for families in Ireland, who have experienced the death of a child.  In particular, the families whose son or daughter died suddenly outside a hospital or hospice system who often find themselves beyond the realms of any bereavement services, struggling to cope with the intense grief and huge loss in their lives. In 2019 Anam Cara supported 2219 parents across 137 events, including events for parents who had experienced the death of their only child or children. All Anam Cara services are provided free of charge.

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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