As featured on Silver Linings, as part of their #domoregood bloggers campaign. Aching Arms was chosen as their charity of the month. Myself and three other Aching Arms volunteers wrote guest blogs to help promote the charity. Here is mine…
As I mentioned in my previous blog, there are thousands of charities out there all trying to raise awareness and support various causes. Many of them are well known, and then there are some smaller, more specialist charities. We often never know about them until we find ourself in a position where they are brought to our attention. Aching Arms was one of these charities.
I first became aware of Aching Arms through some new friends I had made on Instagram after Guy was (still)born. One of the ladies I follow posted that she was donating money to this charity instead of sending Christmas Cards. Intrigued, I went onto their website to see what the charity was about.
Aching Arms is run by a group of bereaved mothers and provide comfort teddy bears to families of bereaved parents. It is a gift from one bereaved family to another (dedicated in the name of another lost baby), to let them know that they are not alone on this journey. Aching Arms provide bears to families who contact them directly and request a bear (which is free). They also work with over 40 hospitals across England. The midwives give out the bears to families who have met and said goodbye to their baby too soon, alongside any other bereavement support, such as memory boxes.
A hug from me to you
It is such a simple and beautiful gesture. I instantly fell in love and contacted the charity via Twitter to request a bear. A few days later I received Jack in post. Instinctively, I just hugged him tight. We never got to hold Guy, so it felt really nice to have something physical to hold. The bears are perfect baby size and so soft and cuddly. You can’t help but cradle them like you would a real baby. As much as we all wish our own babies were here to cuddle, the bears from Aching Arms really do achieve their aim… to fill the aching arms of mothers whose child has died. On those bad days, Jack and is there for a good cuddle and comfort.
I of course donated a bear back in Guy’s name, hoping that he would bring someone as much comfort as Jack has brought me. A few months ago, a lady messaged me on Instagram to let me know she had received Guy’s bear. It warmed my heart to know he had a loving home and was helping another family.
Giving something back
At the start of the year, I saw that Aching Arms were looking to approach more hospitals. I was able to get them a contact for the bereavement midwife at my local hospital where Guy was born. The hospital happily agreed to join the bear giving program, and Aching Arms asked me to be their local volunteer. This would mean being the Aching Arms contact for the hospital, preparing the bears and delivering them. I felt so honoured to be asked to join their team.
A few weeks later I was armed with bears, ribbon and dedicated names, preparing my first batch for the hospital. It felt incredibly special to dress the bears in their ribbon and allocate them a name of a much loved and missed baby. Like I was giving them a uniform. Depending how the bears are stuffed and stitched, the each look slightly different. I like to think this reflects each babies unique personality as I carefully assigned their names. As I dressed each one, I told them how important their job was and gave them a big loving cuddle. This role is very bittersweet. It provided me with so much comfort knowing that I was able to give something back to this community I had found myself in. Yet at the same time my heart is sad, because I know that each one of these bears will get a home.
I have recently just prepared and delivered a second batch to the hospital. The bereavement midwife fed back that the families are loving the bears, and like I did with Jack, just cradle and cuddle them straight away. She told me how they carefully chose which bear to give to families, such as giving a bear of the same gender. I like that. Just as I carefully assign the bears names, they carefully choose their family.
I am thrilled that #DoMoreGood have chosen to feature Aching Arms as their ‘Charity of the Month’. It is still a small charity and there are so many families yet to reach. I hope the awareness from this campaign can help them bring comfort to more bereaved parents, because sadly, there will be more.