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Charity offers 'remembrance photos' for bereaved parents of babies

The charity said today it believes these images service as an important step in the family’s healing process.

AN AMERICAN NON-profit group, which supports parents who have suffered the loss of a baby by offering free “remembrance photography”, officially launched in Dublin today.

The ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep‘ foundation (NILMDTS) allows families to honour the short lives of their babies by offering a photographer to take pictures of the babies with their families after they have died. The charity said today it believes these images service as an important step in the family’s healing process.

The foundation currently has a network of more than 1,600 trained volunteer photographers all around the world, including 20 in Ireland. It was set up after co-fonder Cheryl Haggard lost her son in 2005. Her husband contacted local photographer and eventual co-founder Sandy Pic’ and asked her to help them memorialise their son Maddux.

One mother in the US who used the organisation’s service described how much it meant to her to have images of her baby girl:

They’re her, they’re our tangible piece of her that we can hang on to and look at forever. We have our memories and we have our moments that we can try to flash back to but the pictures allow us to really go there and to really be back in those moments with her.

Speaking at the launch today, Eileen Hyland, Coordinator for the charity in Ireland said she was delighted this service is now available to grieving families in Ireland.

The birth of a baby is a wonderful thing. But when a baby dies, a family’s world is turned upside down. There is confusion, sadness and fear, where there should have been joy.

At a family’s request, a photographer will come to the hospital and conduct a sensitive and private portrait session of the family and their baby who has just died or is about to die. The portraits are then professionally retouched and presented to the families on an archival DVD or CD. The photographers give their time and their expertise entirely free.

“When I get a call from a nurse or a hospital, I first offer the family my condolences on their loss or impending loss, and then I get to work, knowing that the images I capture may be their only tangible connection to that child once they have said goodbye,” commented Eileen Hyland from Waterford, who is a NILMDTS affiliated photographer.

“Some of these babies pass away at or near birth due to genetic defects, pregnancy trauma or stillbirth. Our photographers capture the bond of love that exists within these grieving families – and we like to think that we capture love, not loss.”

NILMDTS works in association with Irish charity Féileacáin, which gives memory boxes to bereaved parents of babies. They include two teddy bears – one to be kept by the parents and one to be buried with the baby, a handmade blanket and a hand print kit.

Féileacáin Féileacáin

The foundation is now looking for more photographers in Ireland to train and to become affiliated. They are also looking for community volunteers to help with administration, manning telephones and coordinating events.

Anyone interested in getting involved, or in using the service can call 0833774777 or go to their website for more information.

Read: Butterflies to be released in remembrance service for those affected by the death of a baby>

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