Conversations with Julz of Little Daffodils (Subject: Child Loss)

Following last week’s interview with Chloe about her miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, it felt fitting for this week’s interview to be with an incredible organisation that works tirelessly to support those experiencing child loss.

Little Daffodils was created by happily married mother of five and teaching assistant Julz. Following the death of her daughter Melody at five weeks old, Julz realised that more support could be offered to families, particularly to children who have lost a sibling. Little Daffodils was created in that moment.

With family being her biggest passion, it’s no surprise that Julz dedicates her time to ensuring that those going through the unimaginable feel supported, noticed and cared for.

In your own words, describe the work Little Daffodils does.

Little Daffodils is a small organisation offering support after the loss of a baby or child. This includes creating sibling memory boxes, sending activity packs to antenatal clinics and providing lanyards to parents who are expecting a baby after baby loss. These lanyards help healthcare professionals see that Mums could be struggling emotionally for a reason and identify that they may need more support. We also offer a monthly support group.

What a fantastic idea! Where did the idea for Little Daffodils come from?

After the death of our daughter Melody at 5 weeks old, my older children were given a key ring and a bracelet. They were 7 and 4 at the time and there wasn’t much in the way of support or comfort for them. They eventually built their own memory boxes, which gave me the inspiration for Little Daffodils. I wanted to create a way for other children to do the same.

I personally think that the memory boxes are a fantastic idea. Why do you think it is important to provide these to children?

Children are often forgotten when it comes to grief, but it is important for children to feel included in what is such a heart-breaking time. Parents can often be busy with things like arrangements, but children too need to feel like they are included somehow.

Miscarriage, baby loss and child death are not uncommon, but they are something rarely openly discussed. What do you think the impact of the almost ‘silent treatment’ of these issues is on those experiencing them?

Our daughter was 5 weeks old when she passed away – she was a premature baby who never came home. Because of her age, she is technically “post-neonatal”. Sadly, we found out the hard way that her age and type of death is forgotten about or rarely ever mentioned.

The initial reason I put Little Daffodils together was because we were met with slammed doors when it came to support. She was either too old or places only dealt with specific losses that did not include ‘post-neonatal’. We were also met with her being too young or not dying the right way – I’m still not even sure what that meant! I wanted Little Daffodils to offer support to everyone and anyone.

It’s hard to understand why places would not offer support to all people experiencing all child losses, but thankfully Little Daffodils extends their support to all. From your experience, what do you think needs to be done in order to support women and families during this time?

Never turn a family away. When families first contact, it really is the first part of their journey and a good or bad experience of support will stay with them forever.

Unfortunately, funding issues can mean that it’s difficult to get decent support out to families. Hospitals don’t always have time to pass on information, so much needed support can get missed or lost in the first weeks and months of loss. I also think that good training amongst healthcare professionals on how to support families better is vital.

Things are changing, but it takes a long time for people to process grief and to find the right support for them. I like for families to know about us, but I also understand not to pressure parents to talk, seek help or come along to groups. This can only be achieved when people are ready, but just knowing that places are out there to help whenever parents are ready is important.

What grief management strategies would you suggest to a person experiencing loss?

Take each day as it comes. Don’t rush yourself, but if you are fine then that is okay too. Expect up and down days. Grief can all of a sudden hit one day – it can come from nowhere – and that is okay too.

Try not to be pressurised to feeling “normal” by anyone. There is no timescale and there really is no real normal. Everyone’s grief is individual and the way we react is individual too. However, should you feel like your life doesn’t matter – seek extra help and talk to someone.

If I know someone who has lost a child, what can I do/say to support them?

Be there for them and don’t rush them.

Listen to what they have to say and don’t expect them to return to who they used to be.

To be a good friend, you need to be patient and you need to support them no matter what. If they are having a bad time, don’t tell them that they should be over it or should “really seek help”, because it simply could be a day that they have remembered or a reminder of a missed milestone. Ask if they are ok or if they need anything.

If they are open about their loss, then remember their child on their birthday. If they’re a bit quieter about it, then drop them a message letting them know you are thinking of them – it really does mean a lot. It doesn’t matter how long ago either. Grief has no use by date.

That really is great advice! Little Daffodils really is a wonderful creation – you must be so proud of yourself for turning such a sad situation into something that can help so many others! What has been the most rewarding part of your work so far?

Hearing from families who I have helped is amazing. One mum was so grateful for her lanyard recently that she made a huge deal about it at her hospital and now they have the lanyards too. Being approached by parents who have received boxes is just amazing. To know that our little girl’s memory is helping families through an unimaginable time.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in one statement, what would it be?

With the recent events, I think my outlook on life has completely changed. Being grateful to anyone who has remained in our lives, who remembered our daughter’s anniversary, even during isolation. We need to have a positive outlook now, no matter what life throws at us.

To find out more about Little Daffodils, click here 

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