On 25 March, Sands are inviting the community to support the first national ‘Say Their Name Day’, a day of recognition, remembrance and connection intended to help reduce the stigma of pregnancy and infant loss by reinforcing the idea that every baby matters and deserves to be celebrated.
The concept for ‘Say Their Name Day’ came about in response to feedback Sands received from bereaved parents as part of a survey undertaken in the lead up to the National Round Table into stillbirth research and education early in 2019.
“One of the most common things bereaved parents told Sands is how much the opportunity to say their baby’s name, and to hear it from others, means to them. Contrary to what people may think, talking to/with bereaved families about their baby does not compound their grief – it is often a welcome opportunity to express their love,” said Sands CEO, Jackie Mead.
Sands intends ‘Say Their Name Day’ to grow into a national awareness day that will encourage more people to talk openly about miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.
To support this, Sands has also released a new fact sheet called ‘Words Matter’ to guide family, friends, neighbours and colleagues in what it’s helpful to do or say when someone’s baby has died,” said Ms Mead.
“A stigma continues to exist when discussing a baby who has died. Sadly this leaves parents feeling isolated and alone. We want to help reduce this stigma by helping people feel more comfortable reaching out to a friend, colleague or family member to offer support.”
“Respectfully sharing stories and listening to grieving parents are two simple ways we can ensure that every family who experiences the death of a baby feels understood and supported.”
Melbourne couple Amy and Shaun Hidge say the act of saying their baby’s name, or hearing it from others, is empowering.
“It brings joy and warms my heart every time a friend or family member mentions Stella’s name because it reminds me that she played a very special part in all of our lives,” Amy said.
“A good friend recently presented me with a special gift with Stella’s name on it and I was completely overwhelmed with love and happiness to know that our Stella touched so many.”
How can people participate?
On or before 25 March bereaved families are invited to write their baby’s name on a paper heart and share with us via social media using the hashtag #saytheirname. These names will be gathered onto a heart-shaped display in the Sands national office, which will provide a visual representation of each family’s love for their baby.
Ms Mead said it’s important that the many parents who chose not to or weren’t able to name their babies can participate in ‘Say Their Name Day’ too.
“Just because a baby was not named formally does not reduce the sense of loss and grief experienced by families. We want those families to know that they can include their baby’s family name, a nickname used during pregnancy, a significant date, or meaningful symbol to represent their baby,” she said.
The wider community are invited to download our fact sheet, ‘Words Matter’, to share it widely, to start a conversation with a loved one whose baby has died to let them know their baby is remembered, or to share stories of pregnancy and infant loss to raise awareness and reduce stigma in the general community.