19/05/2011 06:17 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Sarah Brown: Losing Baby Jennifer Changed Me Forever

Sarah Brown: losing baby Jennifer changed me forever PA

Sarah Brown, wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has written a heart-wrenching essay about the death of her baby daughter, Jennifer.

Jennifer died a little over a week after her birth in January 2002, after being born two months prematurely.

Sarah's story appears in 'The Death Of A Child', which is due to be published next month with proceeds going to the Child Bereavement Charity.

In a searingly honest and moving account of the aftermath of Jennifer's death, Sarah writes:

'I had assumed I must find a way to recover and resume my life, which proved impossible. Instead I realised that the loss of Jennifer had changed me forever, and importantly I realised that this was OK. With that understanding, a burden lifted from my shoulders and I looked afresh at how to move forward.

'The cliché that the passage of time helps is certainly true. The first lesson is to recognise that the big overwhelming, debilitating pain that hits from time to time does subside and, as hard as it is to go through it, you learn that you do come out of the other side each time.'

Sarah says that thinking about her daughter and her love for her helps her 'cope' with 'daily life', but admits she could not 'mend' herself, or be the person she was before she had Jennifer:

She wrote: 'The other thing I learned is to continually open my heart to the love I feel for my daughter, no matter how painful that can be at times. There is a temptation to put something that hurts to one side in order to cope better in daily life. Actually the reverse is true. Just recognising the full extent of your love means you can cherish, remember and properly honour the person you have lost. I learned simply that I did not need a way to mend myself, nor to return to being the person I was before.'

Jennifer was the the couple's first child. They went on to have two sons, John, in 2003, and James in 2004.

Can you empathise with Sarah's story?
Does such an awful experience change you forever?