We are often asked 2 questions.
1. Why has the charity expanded into North America?
2. How many people attend the services?
Here are the answers.
We expanded as there was a huge need. The charity website has over 650,000 hits per month and we support around 50,000 people directly each month. These people aren't just in the UK. Part of the support offered is by providing remembrance services.
And now to my favorite question...why my favorite? Because it gives me the chance to say this.
We never ever count the number of people who attend Saying Goodbye services! We would do it all for one family. That may shock some people. From the moment we launched we decided it would never be about the numbers, it's about the individual. It would be easy to look at a service and see it as a success as the cathedral was packed to the rafters, but to us that is not relevant. We want to see people being moved, we want to see grieving hearts being mended, and we want to see people's pain being recognized and their babies being honored. So yes we have services when we run out of available seats, but we also have services where we have empty seats..... Neither of these facts are important. If the services are needed in an area we will take them there. That is our call. That is our mission.
I would like to share Stacy's letter, as a personal testimony is more powerful than any ramblings from me, so here goes. Stacy is one of the reasons Saying Goodbye is now here in the States, and also is a great example of why we as a charity look at individuals and never at numbers.
Dear Saying Goodbye Team
16-years ago I had a miscarriage. A void was left in me that I was simply unprepared to deal with, my relationship ultimately suffered and dissolved.
Three years later, I was again planning my life with someone, when I fell pregnant. At my 6 week scan I could see a tiny heartbeat. I was instructed to return for another scan at 12-weeks, everything looked good. When I returned for my next scan, I was told that there was no heartbeat, my baby had stopped growing at about 8-weeks, a 'Missed Miscarriage' and underwent surgery. Again I lacked the ability to truly grieve, now living with a new fear and darkness, no longer sure how to communicate with anybody. I was simply existing......
My next pregnancy was uncomfortable and tense. I lived in constant anxiety. I had an 8-week scan where again everything looked 'great' and told to return at 12-weeks. Once again "I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat", and again I was taken in for surgery. I returned home with yet another hole in my heart with no idea how to cope with another loss.
At 30-years old, grasping to put a life in order, I fell pregnant. I made it through my 8 and 10 week scan. My baby was there, on the screen wiggling and rolling. At 12-weeks I was certain that there would be more bad news, I couldn't help but be excited...I was sure we were finally in the 'safe' zone.
Scans at 14 and 18-weeks were a success, 24-weeks and that everything looked great, and my baby was a boy. I named him Miles Vincent. Miles was symbolic of how far I had to come. Vincent after my father. At 22-weeks, I felt sure that something was 'off'. A few hours later my water broke and I started to bleed. I drove to the hospital terrified, and when I arrived was told my baby was already in the birth canal, was born within minutes...my whole world imploded.
At 3.02pm my son was born sleeping. He was perfect and beautiful and I never wanted to let him go.
The diagnosis was 'incompetent' cervix. Miles didn't have to die...my body had failed him. It was 'my fault' and I did not plan to get pregnant again, as I was sure I could not sustain another loss.
Miles was born on June 28th 2008, and on June 28th 2009, my daughter Lily Grace was conceived. After an extremely risky pregnancy with many complications, my daughter was born two and a half months early via emergency C-section, tiny but healthy. I finally had my rainbow.
Seeing her, hearing her, smelling her, feeling the weight of her was incredible. It also made me miss my angel babies that much more. It somehow compounded my loss...I suddenly felt compelled to talk about them, to honour them.
After Lily was born, I started searching for an outlet to allow me to grieve for my other children, and that is when I found 'Saying Goodbye'. Zoe, the founder, and I became fast friends and her support truly changed my life. What a comfort to speak with someone who'd been there. Someone who fully understood and appreciated every layer of my emotions. The only downside was that she was 3000-miles away in the UK, but the distance didn't matter and we chatted just about every day.
At some point I became pregnant again. I, of course assumed that all would be well and shared my joy at having another daughter with Zoe. Unfortunately my baby's heart stopped beating at 18-weeks and I endured a terrible and painful miscarriage. 'Saying Goodbye' was my lifeline. Zoe was now one of my dearest friends and she carried me through some extremely dark days.
A year later I was pregnant for the 7th time and again my pregnancy was extremely high risk, this prevented me from attending Saying Goodbyes first ever service in New York City, but just knowing it was taking place in the town in which I grew up was momentous.
In January 2015 we welcomed our son Michael Stephen into the world. He was healthy and perfect and here to grow up with his big sister.
Last week Saying Goodbye returned to New York and I was finally able to attend...I will hold it in my heart forever. Being a part of this service was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. Honoring my babies on a level where it was 'ok' to Say Goodbye and 'ok' to openly grieve was amazing. Breaking the taboo of baby loss and being open for my children's memory was more healing than I ever expected. Being surrounded by other people who know the pain of losing a child, is crucial in gaining peace.
I will always ache for my children, but through the healing process and the help of 'Saying Goodbye', I have learned that I have gained as well as lost. I would not trade one kick or one sound of their heartbeats to not have carried them at all.
This Saturday I will be attending the service in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania is now my home state so to know I played a small part in bringing the service to this area means everything to me. I hope many lives will be changed, as others find that peace and support that truly changed my life.
(All photos courtesy of Pixabay)
Zoe Clark-Coates is one of the founders and CEO's of the Mariposa Trust. The Saying Goodbye division offers support and national remembrance services for anyone who has lost a baby at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in early years.
Website: www.mariposatrust.org & sayinggoodbye.org