Today I want to introduce you to a very special person.
Martine Brennan is a qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist (Metanoia Psychotherapy Training Institute, Ealing, London, UK ’91 and ’93) She is a London born Irish woman with a background in Community work. Martine is the proud mother of three daughters. Hannah, her middle daughter, was born still, April 1st 2004. Martine now runs an online coaching programme for parents who are seeking to rebuild their lives following the death of a beloved baby through miscarriage or stillbirth.
Martine has been there for me over the past few months while trying to come to terms with losing my own baby boy last August. She is a truly compassionate, wise and warm woman, and I count myself very blessed to have met her. Martine has recently written an e-book, After Your Baby Dies.
Today I interview Martine about her work and why she wrote her book.
Martine, tell us a little about the work that you do
“Though my life, as I knew it, ended when Hannah died, I have found a way to live with her absence and experience joy again. I have rebuilt my life. I want to share this knowledge with other parents. There are so many of us..too many who struggle alone. I believe the first step for most of us is to come out of the isolation we all experienced, especially in the beginning. Then we need to be met with compassion and understanding. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. So the focus of my work is to meet bereaved parents with sincere compassion and a real understanding of the pain, the anger, the despair and the loneliness, the profound not knowing how to live anymore. I help people to rebuild their lives. No-one can bring our babies back but together we can rebuild our lives.”
Do you think the stage at which we lose a baby makes a difference to the grieving process?
“Whether a baby died in “medical terms” by miscarriage stillbirth or neo natal death or by a failed fertility treatment (I hate those terms) does not signify anything in terms of the degree of the loss/pain. “
Can you tell us a little more about this grieving process?
“The grief is real and can only be measured by the person feeling it. When I worked in London, I mainly worked with people who had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And now what I see is that many bereaved parents have PTSD. So when I work with parents I can’t “fix’ the fact that their baby’s are gone but I can help them to learn to take care of themselves, accept the changes inside themselves, deal with their PTSD symptoms and learn to allow pleasure and joy back into their lives while still living with the absence of their babies. Even though I am a counsellor, I don’t believe that everyone who is bereaved needs counselling. (I could be shot for that) Grief just takes time and compassion and understanding. But if someone is really struggling, has used up all their own resources and feels the need themselves then it is time for counseling. People themselves usually know if they are stuck. (Apart from writing there is nothing like the joy I feel when that light comes back on inside someone.)”
What do you believe is needed to help grieving parents cope with the loss of their baby?
“I think that advocacy is needed. The medical profession (with some exceptions) want us to accept the death of babies (as once they accepted the many deaths of mothers in pregnancy and childbirth) and this has to change. Unfortunately our babies are invisible to the outside world, so broken as we are, we have to speak for them. The rate of SIDS has gone down worldwide since parents forced the medical profession to sit up and do something. I believe that we will do the same.”
You recently published an e-book, After Your Baby Dies. Can you tell us a little more about this and where it is available?
The first year after a beloved baby dies is an especially painful one.There were so many things I didn’t know after Hannah died, things that would have helped me cope better. I have written those things in the e-book and it is available free from Stillbirth Help.
Any final thoughts you would like to share with readers?
“Some people work in this field to honour their babies but in my heart I believe that Hannah is well in whatever the next place is. My hope is that someday we will be reunited. I do this because I don’t want my living daughters to go through what we have been through.”
Visit Martine’s website at http://www.martinebrennan.com