A range of memorial gifts aimed at supporting the grief process have been launched by a Coventry-based charity ahead of National Grief Awareness Day. (August 30th)
The Endless Love collection has been created by The Luca Foundation and includes a unique teddy bear with a sealable compartment specially designed for storing a loved one’s ashes or special keepsake in.
Bespoke hampers are also available, made up from a growing range of items carefully hand-selected by charity founder Sharon Luca-Chatha to promote physical and mental wellbeing, including camomile teas, bath salts, scented candles and pillow mist sprays.
Sharon established the Foundation after her son, Luca, was stillborn at almost full term in June 2012.
Since then the charity has raised thousands to fund the purchase and repair of refrigerated CuddleCots for maternity units, neonatal intensive care units and paediatric wards. Sharon is driven by her vision to fund enough cuddle cots to service every maternity unit throughout the UK and then turn her attentions to cuddle blankets, for under 18s.
The CuddleCots act like a refrigerator to keep the body cold which allows the parents to have up to a week with their baby and, if they wish to, even take them home with that equipment. Each cot costs £1,750 to purchase and between £100-£750 to repair.
Sharon said of the new range: “I’ve based the collection on what I would have liked given to me when I lost Luca 11 years ago rather than just tons of flowers that you run out of vases for and then they die anyway. These are more touching personal types of gifts to give to the grieving family or couple or individual. And it’s not just suitable for child loss but all types of loss.
“The teddy bear opens up at the back and contains a 10cm sustainable tub in which you can keep ashes or a lock of hair, anything that is precious to you about the loved one you’ve lost. It seals back up and you can cuddle it, which is why it’s called the Endless Love range, because it’s a teddy bear that gives endless love.
“You’ll always have something of your loved one to cuddle which is unique and I’m not aware of anything like this that has been available before.”
She added: “Many of the items are carefully selected to help those who are grieving, relax and get some sleep because that’s one of the things that people really struggle with after a bereavement. You are exhausted but your thoughts still keep you awake at night so there’s no sleep or quality of sleep.”
Sharon has also had the symbol of the Endless Love range made into a pin badge, which is also available to purchase, along with items such as jewellery and cufflinks, coming soon, also bearing the emblem.
“Our Endless Love badge and brand is made up of a heart and half an angel wing. It symbolises how your heart is torn because half your heart is gone with your loved one but you’re still living here while there’s a part of you missing,” explains Sharon.
Through the charity Sharon also works hard to raise funds to provide resources, facilities and research to reduce infant mortality and support bereaved parents.
She has also written two books on the subject of child loss, Angel Warriors and an illustrated children’s book Why Did Grandad Die? which is also available for inclusion in the memory hampers.
Sharon is now a proud mum to 10-year-old Ky but who has recently been diagnosed with PTSD relating to her previous stillbirth trauma.
She added: “A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. We were beyond devastated, our world had fallen apart. From the moment Luca died on the Monday inside my womb, to the Thursday when I gave birth to him, everything was in a daze.
“We were not ready for the next blow – the limited time we had with him, knowing we would then never see him again. After holding onto Luca as long as we could – just a few hours – we had to hand him over to be taken to the mortuary. This caused us such trauma. We just cried uncontrollably.
“As a society we are very uneducated on our unresolved trauma in our bodies from a loss which can release itself in adulthood through illness and or addiction. This is why talking to children is vitally important and that’s how our children’s book can help.”
Tickets are still available for this year’s Luca Foundation Gala, at Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel, on September 30th. For further information about the Foundation or to purchase tickets to the Gala, visit here
- Read more about Luca’s story here.