May 2, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 10 months old

Lincoln parents who lost their baby start charity to help siblings with grief

They have created special packs to support children

Two Lincoln parents who suffered the heartbreak of losing a baby have launched a charity to help young siblings through their grief.

Laura and Steve Yarlett’s baby boy Edison was welcomed into the world on September 26, 2022 at just 27 weeks.

However, he was born pre-term and with a condition called Congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Despite the best efforts of the neonatal team at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, Edison sadly died in his parents’ arms less than 24 hours later.

Not only did Laura and Steve have to deal with their own grief, but the couple had to work out how to explain to their 11-year-old son Conner what had happened.

The couple, who also now have a 17-month-old daughter called Poppy, recently launched a charity called Edison’s Light to support Lincolnshire families, particularly young siblings, who are affected by miscarriage, termination for medical reasons (TFMR), stillbirth and neonatal death.

The charity packs will help children like Conner who had to deal with the death of his baby brother Edison. He is pictured with his sister Poppy. | Photo: Laura Yarlett

Laura, 35, told The Lincolnite: “His death was without doubt the most heartbreaking thing we have ever experienced. However the second most was having to tell his older brother Conner that Edison would not be coming home with us.

“Finding the words to explain what had happened and why was almost impossible.

“Conner, like us, had been excited for Edison to be coming home and joining our family, and had been looking forward to making all those memories we can often take for granted.

“Although still only a child himself, he too had to grieve the loss of his brother and navigate a complex spectrum of emotion.

“Finding ways to support him, whilst also dealing with our own grief was very difficult.

“Nobody wants to have to go online and look for resources to explain these things, but that is what we had to do. Although there were resources available in hospital for grieving parents, there seemed to be a lack of them aimed at siblings.”

Edison’s Light has made sibling support packs which contain a story book, a worry bear, and different workbooks aimed at children of different ages. | Photo: Laura Yarlett

When Edison sadly died, Laura and Steve were given a pack with memory boxes from a charity called 4Louis which they found “really helpful”, but there weren’t any resources available aimed at young siblings.

Laura and Steve wanted to fill that gap by creating sibling support packs which are provided to Lincoln County Hospital and the neonatal unit in Nottingham, who then distribute them to other local hospitals, including Boston Pilgrim.

They have been working closely with Rachel Bond who is a maternity bereavement midwife for Lincolnshire.

Each pack created by Laura and Steve inclues a storybook, a worry bear, and workbooks aimed at children of different ages.

There are a range of books explaining why a baby might not be coming home and the loss of a baby in a child-friendly way.

There are also packs for SEND children adapted with alternative explanations. Families can choose from a range of books to best support their individual circumstances.

There are packs aimed at children under seven to go through with their parents, as well as for those aged seven to 15, which can be done with adults or independently. In the future, they hope to create a pack for 16 plus.

A worry bear and a variety of different books that can be chosen from for the packs. | Photo: Laura Yarlett

Laura said: “Conner was integral in the making of the packs and helped pick the different elements we use. Doing the packs has made him feel happy that he can help other boys and girls.”

She added: “At that point in time when we told him, you could see the absolute devastation on his face.

“Not only did he lose his brother but the people in his life were going through their own grief and he needed extra support and to know it is okay to feel like this.

“Children want to protect their grieving parents and won’t always say what’s on their mind, and these packs help them deal with it in a non-confrontational way.”

At Nottingham NICU. Left to right – Laura, Sarah (both NICU nurses), Laura Yarlett, Steve Yarlett, Poppy Yarlett, Julie (NICU family support nurse), and Conner Yarlett. | Photo: Laura Yarlett

The charity has also set up a support group for families in Lincolnshire which was activated this week and can be found online here. They are also hoping to create in person support groups in Lincolnshire in the future.

It will give people the opportunity to get peer support from people who have been in a similar situation.

“We hope this will help ease the loneliness that individuals and families can feel when grieving the loss/death of a baby,” Laura said.

Steve, 42, works for the Royal Air Force, and the couple want to thank RAF Waddington for all their support.

“The RAF community team has been fantastic letting us use their faciilties for free to host events, especially Lesley,” Laura added.

Bereavment midwife Rachel Bond, Laura Yarlett, Steve Yarlett, and their daughter Poppy at the maternity unit in Lincoln. | Photo: Laura Yarlett

The couple has upcoming fundraisers including Hawaiian bingo night, a murder mystery, and family fun evening, as well as local events throughout the summer to raise awareness of their charity’s work – see more information on the charity’s Facebook page here.

The charity also hopes to work with local businesses to get the information out there to employees, as well as working with hospitals and military services, and the charities associated with them.

After raising just over £3,000 through various fundraising since November 2022, Edison’s Light is also in the process of applying for different grants to enable it to keep producing the resources to help other families. The charity can be contacted directly by emailing [email protected].

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