Walk to provide support after the grief of stillbirth

FUNDRAISING WALK: Megan Gaffney and Katie Francis are orgaining a Choosing Hope walk to raise awareness of stillbirth.

FUNDRAISING WALK: Megan Gaffney and Katie Francis are orgaining a Choosing Hope walk to raise awareness of stillbirth.

When Megan Gaffney’s daughter Ruby Louise was stillborn, she and her family donated a bear to be given to others going to through a similar experience.

Six years later, the bear donated by the Gaffneys was given to Katie Francis and her family after their little girl Lara Margaret was also stillborn.

Mrs Gaffney and Mrs Francis were already acquaintances, but that little teddy bear helped them cement a firm friendship.

Now they are hoping to help other families who have experienced the grief of stillbirth, as well as acknowledging the work of Bears of Hope in its  support of bereaved families.

On average, eight families a day are affected by the loss of a baby, either perinatal or during the first four weeks of life.

Both Mrs Gaffney and Mrs Francis would like to see greater awareness of this loss and for more support for grieving Wagga families.

“It happens to so many people, but so much of it is unspoken,” Mrs Gaffney said.

“It’s not until you start to talking to people about it that they might mention it has happened to them or to someone they know.”

Mrs Francis said support in Wagga was sometimes spasmodic.

“We really need reliable, specialised support,” she said.

“Often stillbirth can’t really be prevented. There is monitoring and some issues can be picked up, but often it is just one of those ‘freak’ things.”

On Sunday, October 15, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, they will be holding an event called Choosing Hope, a one-kilometre walk around the Victory Memorial Gardens.

“This is our first Choosing Hope walk in Wagga.” Mrs Gaffney said.

“We hope to continue holding these walks each year, as well as establishing further support for families affected by pregnancy and infant loss.”

The walk will begin at 2pm, and will be followed by a memorial service and flower release ceremony on the banks of the Wollundry Lagoon. There will be music and stalls.

Registration costs $20 for adults and $10 for children aged between three and 17, with afternoon tea and a memorial flower included. Profits will go to Bears of Hope.

For more, visit the Choosing Hope Wagga Facebook page.