Tricia: I am the face of newborn death Tricia Solly was watching Offspring when a story about a stillbirth grabbed her attention. Her husband Steven asked if she wanted him to turn the TV off, but she said no. Tricia and Steve lost their twin sons Andrew and Jarrod at 30 weeks in 1989, with boy boys only living a few hours each. The episode brought memories flooding back for Tricia, but it was the mention of Sands during the credits that really caught her eye. “It said, if this episode brought up any issues for you, contact Sands and I thought, who are Sands?” Tricia said. Tricia, 64, retired four years ago then enrolled in a counselling course which lead to working with people who had lost family members to suicide. She knew that wasn’t her calling. She made contact with Sands and they responded immediately. “I’d always wanted to help others who had lost babies. I never knew about Sands when I lost the boys,” Tricia said. She started training and after a month, was a dedicated member of their phone support service. She’s now been answering calls from bereaved parents for two years, with no plans to stop. Tricia said rather than the calls bringing up painful memories, they make her feel as if she’s giving back. She has once been brought to tears, but managed to hold herself together until the call had ended. “The hardest thing is knowing this still happens,” she said. When Tricia lost her boys, her eldest daughter Jessica was five. She had another daughter Claire two years later. Both daughters know of and talk about their brothers, something that Tricia missed out on as a child. “Until the day of the boys’ funeral, I never knew my mother had a stillbirth. She said to me, ‘you were so lucky, you got to hold them and see them’. She was told to go home and have another baby. She never got over it,” Tricia said. Tricia said with the benefit of time, she was able to offer a calming reassurance to those facing new losses. “No one tells you when you’re pregnant, you might not bring that child home. I can chat to younger people and reassure them they will feel better. It’s providing that hope. “People might be crying at the start of our call but when we finish and they say they feel better, I know my work is done,” she said. Tricia said a great deal of joy had come in to her life in the past year with the arrival of her first grandson, Harry. Harry spent the first few days of his life in neonatal care, triggering some emotions for Tricia. She said as well as phone counselling, she always put up her hand for other volunteer jobs including Bunnings barbeques and Walk to Remember events. “I’ve not been in an organisation where the people are so supportive of their volunteers,” she said. She has also recently started helping with education sessions at hospitals. “The first time was very daunting. You keep a lot of grief to yourself but when you have to put it out there, you’re acknowledging your pain all over again,” she said. Tricia said at Sands, she knew she was always in a safe place. “With friends, you talk about it but you only go so far. With Sands, things are very cathartic. When someone rings, they’re at the end of their tether. They know they can say whatever they like as we’ve all been there. “Sands to me is a comfort. Not only for the people we speak to but for us as well. Wish I knew about them sooner,” she said.