SANDS Summer Soiree

I have always said that for me, one of the hardest parts of losing a baby to stillbirth is the fact that at the end of the day, there are only a handful of memories to draw from. There are no memories of happy times, photos of smiling faces, video footage of Christmas mornings, summer holidays, the sound of laughter. It is possibly even more sad that with every birthday there is also the anniversary of their death, the two dates cruelly intertwined so that for every happy occasion it will always be eclipsed by so much sadness.

With every passing year I  have struggled to accept just how fast the time is slipping away, how my memories are becoming a little hazier, how his name is spoken a little less by those we had hoped would never forget. And now, with his tenth birthday fast approaching this July,  a whole decade suddenly feels like such a long time and the occasion appears all the more momentous, and I have been absolutely dreading it.

For that reason I decided that this year we would do something special to mark the occasion, to show him that although a whole decade has passed, he is still such a huge part of our family and still very much in our thoughts each and every day. And alongside those sentiments, the main thing for us is to continue to give back to a charity, the stillbirth and neonatal death society (SANDS) which has given so much support to me over the years and work tirelessly to ensure that more babies are making it safely into their parents arms.

Initially we came up with fanciful ideas of bungee jumps, sky dives and trekking along the Great Wall of China. We discussed cross country relay races, marathons, climbing mountains and yet, realistically, I am terrified of heights and aeroplanes, I have an aversion to exercise, being cold and get out of breath just walking up the stairs. And ultimately, we came to the same conclusion with each suggestion, that no matter how grand the gesture or how spectacular the occasion, none of these things would ever be enough.

And so instead, I decided that the most important thing for me was to celebrate his birthday with those who we love, with our friends and our families and those who have supported me through not only the best times of my life, but the absolute worst times. We imagined an occasion where everybody could come together, friends and strangers, adults and children, where there would be music and dancing and most importantly, the sweet sound of laughter. So after a lot of thought, and the on-going kindness of others, we found ourselves creating an event, the SANDS Summer Soiree.

For someone who is notoriously terrible at organising anything, I really do have my work cut out. Over the next four and a half months I need to work my way through the mother of all To Do Lists, find a DJ, various forms of entertainment, advertise and sell tickets and blag as many raffle prizes as possible to raise as much money as possible for an amazing cause. It’s going to be hard work, probably stressful at times, but when, and if, it all comes together, how amazing will that be?

Already I am touched, and so very honoured, that so many people have promised to be there for us on the night. Friends who have walked beside me every step of the way, family whose support has never faltered, and some of the kindest people I have still yet to meet who will be there with open arms after all this time. I am so emotional just thinking about it, and I am sure that there will be lots of tears on the night, but for the first time in such a long time I’m not dreading Josephs birthday at all, infact I am actually looking forward to it!

And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a birthday party. There will be no cake or balloons, no chorus of Happy Birthday. Nor will there be my ten year old son, proudly blowing out his candles, smiling shyly at the camera and asking can we please just stop with all the photos. There will be no pile of presents, lovingly chosen and wrapped, no stack of cards bearing birthday messages from all of those who know and love him. There will be no fifth little person to pose for a family photo or to hold in my arms and whisper how proud I am of him, how I can’t believe he has reached double figures, that he will always be my baby no matter how big he grows. But there will be a celebration, a remembrance of his life and all that he taught me. There will be love, smiles, tears and laughter and the undeniable truth that sometimes, the smallest footprints leave the biggest imprints on our hearts.

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So for any of you reading who live locally, we would love for you to join us on the 16th July at Charnock Richard Football Club. Details can be found here via our Facebook page and tickets will go on sale in the coming weeks. For those who are unable to attend, a Just Giving page has been set up in Josephs name, here, and all donations will be much appreciated. If any of you can help with raffle prizes, entertainment, advertisement or just general brainstorming, please do get in touch, I’m going to need all the help that I can get! I will be updating you with our progress along the way but for now, thank you for all of your kindness this far. Despite everything, I am such a lucky lady to have so many wonderful, supportive people in my life and I would love to share this with as many of you as possible.

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26 Comments

  1. min1980
    February 29, 2016 / 10:21 pm

    What a lovely idea. Best of luck with all the organising! #MarvMondays

  2. March 1, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    What a fantastic event, I’ve marked myself as interested on attending the event. I don’t live local but fortunately my family do so closer to the time I shall be able to find out if I can stay at my parents to come and join your event. I lost my daughter 5 years ago in pregnancy so I feel I should be there. Good luck with all the organising and I hope to be there. x

    • March 1, 2016 / 4:44 pm

      Oh great!! I hope that you will be able to make it, I am so sorry to hear about your daughter, that must have been truly devastating. After I lost Joseph I joined an on-line forum for women like myself who had suffered a stillbirth and some of those women have become my biggest support over the last decade. Although we have never met they are all travelling up for this event and I think that it is going to be super emotional but just perfect that we are all in this together? I am going to organise a balloon release on the night, where we can all write messages to our babies or loved ones and release them together. If you do come, bring tissues!!! xxx

  3. March 1, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    Oh my goodness I was crying reading this. I can’t imagine the pain of going through what you went through and I think your idea is amazing – I am hopping over to your Facebook page and your Just Giving page after this. I am so touched by your resilience, determination and bravery. #abitofeverything

    • March 1, 2016 / 8:44 pm

      Aww thank you so much. I so hope that we do him proud with this, I really appreciate your support. Xxx

  4. March 1, 2016 / 11:21 pm

    This is so brave of you to do this. A friend of mine lost her daughter last year to stillbirth and had a winter ball in her honour on her birthday and found local businesses were more than happy to donate prizes, ask local beauty salons for vouchers and local businesses. Don’t be afraid to be cheeky and ask for things (that was what she said), and she found that people who had been affected by stillbirth themselves came forward to help. I lost my son in May 2015 at 18 weeks gestation and have so much respect for you and for my friend for finding strength to pull a community together for a good cause in your baby’s honour. xx #anythinggoes

    • March 2, 2016 / 10:25 am

      Thanks Natalie, great advice. I am so sorry to hear about your friend and your son, how utterly devastating for you. I think raising money and sharing their memory really helps doesn’t it? It feels like there are some positives amongst so much sadness, I just hope that it’s a success!!! Xx

    • March 2, 2016 / 10:22 am

      Thank you, fingers crossed!!! 😳xx

  5. March 2, 2016 / 7:02 am

    I’ve made a small donation in honour of Joseph’s life and memory.

    #ManicMonday

    • March 2, 2016 / 10:22 am

      Thank you so much, that really is so lovely of you. 💙

  6. March 2, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    That sounds like an absolutely fantastic idea, I was moved to tears reading this. I really cannot imagine how you are feeling, or what you have experienced, but I can understand where you are coming from when you say that all of the huge things like bungee jumping, will never be enough. The party sounds perfect, and I would like to hear about it! Good luck with all the planning, I hope you can find some enjoyment in seeing it all come together. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink. Xx

    • March 2, 2016 / 5:01 pm

      Thank you so much. I really hope that it will be the perfect night to remember not just Joseph, but all of the babies gone too soon. I think that there is going to be lots of tears but lots of laughter too, and that’s the main thing isn’t it? Thanks for reading. xxx

  7. March 2, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    What a lovely idea 🙂 I really hope it works out for you all and Joseph’s memory lives on in everyone. Looking forward to hearing more. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

    • March 3, 2016 / 11:44 pm

      Thanks Sarah! Me too!! Thanks for hosting. Xx

    • March 3, 2016 / 11:44 pm

      Thank you. Looking forward to it! Xx

  8. March 4, 2016 / 11:07 am

    What a lovely and meaningful way to honour his memory! There is nothing better than everyone coming together, in support and laughter, raising funds for a good cause. It is wonderful to be able to give back! I hope everything goes well and I look forward to reading more of your posts. #abitofeverything

  9. March 6, 2016 / 11:07 am

    This is really such a lovely idea and a beautiful way of celebrating such a wonderful, yet difficult milestone. I am sure that people around you, friends, family and those you have met along the way including on twitter and fb will want to support you in whatever way they can. If there is anything I can do to help you spread the word and promote such a lovely event just let me know! #MarvMondays is definitely a good start 🙂 Emily x

    • March 6, 2016 / 6:31 pm

      Oh thank you so much. If I tweet you the event link I would be really grateful if you could share it. Never done anything like this before and no idea how to ask (beg!) for raffle prizes, etc. Hoping that I can kind of just wing it!! Thanks again. xxx

  10. March 8, 2016 / 9:54 pm

    Your party for your son is a great idea. I admire how you are able to work through the sadness to plan this party to celebrate your son in such an amazing and thoughtful way! Thank you so much for sharing this with me at #manicmonday

    • March 9, 2016 / 10:24 am

      Thank you! Fingers crossed its a success! Thanks for hosting. Xx

  11. Jenny @ Let's Talk Mommy
    March 9, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    What a great idea and so brave and strong to honor your little one and I admire you for this. I think you go full force with it don’t be afraid to ask for donations and things you will be surprise how many will get involved and help out. Good luck with it. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Sorry to be late commenting we have my mother visiting from America. 🙂 Thanks for joining in. #sharewithme

    • March 10, 2016 / 8:40 am

      Thank you! Yes I think I’m going to have to be cheeky, I have a to do list and I’m slowly working my way down it! Oh hope you’ve had a lovely time with your Mum, saw you’d been up to Blackpool! Fab! Xx

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    June 29, 2016 / 10:03 pm

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