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“I don’t believe grief ever goes away; it simply changes shape over time.”

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By Jen Spencer Reid

On April 15, 2014, I said good night to my darling baby Eddie for the last time. For in the early hours of April 16, we tragically lost our baby boy suddenly, without warning. In a matter of seconds, our whole life was irrevocably shattered. Our perfect family of three was destroyed.

There was no attributable cause, no finger to point, no person to blame. 

Eddie was only three months old when he became a victim of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Eddie was perfectly healthy, according to every medical test possible. There was no attributable cause, no finger to point, no person to blame. But as a parent, you are meant to protect your child, so I immediately blamed myself, despite medical assurances that there was nothing that I could have done.

In that moment, I pleaded to swap my life for Eddie’s. And when my pleas went unanswered, I pleaded to die, too, so I could be with him. I simply couldn’t envision living a life without my son.

Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. It goes completely against the natural order of life. No parent should outlive their children. But losing a child for no apparent reason made our grief so much harder to bear.

No parent should outlive their children.

How could a perfectly healthy baby die without explanation in this day and age? My husband Chris and I desperately wanted to search for answers and to honor Eddie’s memory. We recognized early on that SIDS was just one cause of infant and baby loss. On our grief journey, we met other bereaved families who had lost their babies to stillbirth, to neonatal death, or to SIDS. And that led to a recurring thought:

"No parent should suffer the loss of a child. Those that do will need all the love and support possible".

So, just three months after losing our darling baby boy, we started a charity called Teddy’s Wish. It has provided a language, a way to say something positive to people lost for words when you tell them you have lost a child.

In February 2016, we welcomed Eddie’s younger brother into the world. Ollie has brought lots of love and happiness back into our lives again, but our happiness will always be tinged with sadness. Eddie will always be a part of our family and our first baby boy. 

Today, we should be a family of four, not three.

We have undeniably changed as individuals and as parents. Our innocence has been taken away and we know how life can change in an instant, without warning. Anxieties are always high for first-time parents, but ours are exceptionally high, as we will never feel completely certain that Ollie will be ok. We have a monitor on him 24/7, and sleepless nights have taken on a different meaning!

It’s hard to look at the positives in life when you have suffered such a tragic loss, but today we have adopted a deeper appreciation for the present. We cherish every second we have with one another and with Ollie. We don’t take anything for granted.

The pain of losing Eddie will always be with us. I don’t believe grief ever goes away; it simply changes shape over time.

We will always work tirelessly on Teddy’s Wish to keep our promise to Eddie. He may not be here physically, but he is here in spirit, and I will always be a parent to both of my boys.

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Teddy's Wish has funded multiple projects for both research and bereavement support. So far, they have raised over £300k. As a small charity run by Jen, Chris, and some amazing volunteers, they are proud to say over 95% of all funds they have raised go directly to research and bereavement support.

Grief & Loss Bouncing forward Building resilience Children Family Loss of child
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