A POIGNANT woodland memorial has taken root close to Dundonald’s Ulster Hospital in tribute to much loved babies and children.

The Forget-Me-Not Bereaved Parents Liaison Group joined with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to host the moving tree planting event in support of local families experiencing grief following the loss of a pregnancy or the death of a baby or child.

The Forget Me Not woodland is nestled in the Billy Neill Country Park and families can visit this peaceful area that overlooks the tranquil lake, providing a setting for reflection and remembrance.

The area is also a symbol of resilience, hope and support as the trees, planted with love and care, serve as a memorial to the lives of children and babies that forever hold a place in their family’s hearts.

 Kelly Barnes, group treasurer, placed ‘little hearts of love’ beneath the branches of the Forget Me Not tree in a touching gesture of remembrance, to honour and celebrate the lives of babies and children that have been lost.

Said Kelly: “For a bereaved parent, there is nothing better than speaking to someone in the same situation.  I found that nobody understands what you are going through, unless they have been through it themselves.   

“When I attended the Forget Me Not group last year, I remember speaking to a group member who I hadn’t spoken to before.  She totally understood what I was going through, it was the best conversation I had in years.”

Bereaved parents, Jessica and Jamie Clarke, who lost their baby Thea at 26 weeks, reflected on their journey.

“Attending the tree planting today for us is like closing a chapter,” said Jessica. ” We are going to remember Thea by planting a tree in her memory.

“It is such a special place here at the woodland area to remember and reflect.  Thea was a positive child.  As the tree grows, it will symbolise Thea’s growth.” 

Jonathan Patton, chairman of the South Eastern Trust chairman, said he was honoured to attend ‘this beautiful event’ where the parents have been planting trees for the babies they have lost.

“The tree can continue to grow and serve as a memory where parents can come and have a quiet moment at the tree that they have planted, for a life that is lost,” he said.

Jacqueline Dorrian, bereavement support midwife, said it is important for bereaved parents to mark the day.

“Many parents find it difficult to accept they have lost a baby or young child,” she said. “Planting a tree in memory provides a lasting legacy.

“This woodland area helps parents come to terms with their pregnancy or baby loss. Parents can struggle to talk about their loss, so having this peaceful, tranquil setting can help parents to open up.

“The trees planted today will continue to grow in memory of babies and children and will help parents cope with their bereavement.”

The Forget Me Not group provides support and bereavement care to families from a unique perspective of lived experience. The group is operated by parents who have been bereaved and therefore understand the difficulties that recently bereaved families face.

For further information on the Forget Me Not woodland project or to join the Forget Me Not group, please contact the Bereavement Support Midwives, Jacqueline Dorrian or Susan Stitt by telephone: (028) 9056 4717 or email: BereavementSupport.Midwives@setrust.hscni.net