Every year on 25 March, we come together to say the names of the treasured babies and children we have loved and lost – to honour their memory while highlighting the profound impact of each of these deaths.
When a baby or child dies, life as we know it stops – for parents, families and their wider communities. What makes this pain lighter to bear is often the simple acknowledgement of this reality from those who matter.
Saying a baby or child’s name alongside those who loved him or her is a powerful act of kindness and acknowledgement.
Tara and Shane’s Story
For Tara and Shane Watson, finding out that Tara was pregnant with their first child was a moment of pure bliss. After wondering if they would ever become parents together, they were so happy to discover that they would be adding to their gorgeous family. Tara knew that her step-daughters would be the best big sisters for their new baby.
The couple quickly began to bond with their little one. Tara’s pregnancy seemed uneventful and the rhythm of their baby’s movements thrilled them.
At the 20 week scan, Tara and Shane were able to hear a strong, beautiful heartbeat and found out that their baby was a boy. Overjoyed, they couldn’t wait to tell family and friends. But the next day they received a phone call that changed their lives. Could they come in urgently to see the doctor?
Something was abnormal about their baby’s brain. It needed a further MRI scan to confirm, which meant days of waiting and despair. The results of the MRI left Tara and Shane devastated – their baby’s brain hadn’t formed properly. Tara and Shane made the heart-wrenching decision to give birth to their baby, knowing he had no chance of survival. Now instead of planning a new life with their baby, they were arranging a Memory Box and having to plan a funeral.
Less than a week after her MRI, Tara gave birth to baby Zak, born at 22 weeks and 3 days. Zak was perfect, but he never took a breath and never opened his eyes.
At the hospital, Tara was given a brochure about the supports that Sands provides. Through an online Sands support group she learned about the Walk To Remember event.
Six weeks after Zak was born Tara became pregnant with his little sister Ava. She went to her first Walk to Remember five months after losing Zak and three months pregnant.
Tara remembers the feeling of being in that group of mums at Walk To Remember: “It was the first time I felt like I was seen and the weight of being a bereaved mum was lifted – I was just a mum. I remember watching all the families walk up and say their babies’ names. I was able to hold it together until some young children walked up and said their siblings’ names. Then the tears came.”
“That first year I was unable to say Zak’s name. I just wasn’t ready and wasn’t sure I would be able to do it justice. We released butterflies in the park – it was beautiful.”
“We have attended the Walk To Remember each year since. In our second year Shane said Zak’s name and in 2020 our daughter said “Zakky Watson” into the microphone. I’m always in awe of the children who proudly say their siblings’ names.”
“The biggest challenge I’ve always had is the struggle to maintain Zak’s memory as time passes. We celebrate Zak’s birthday every year and remember him in special ways at Christmas.”
“On every birthday card, Christmas card, and at Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, Zak’s name is always included. Our family do the same. It is beautiful to read a card that has his name on it and know that when they were writing it he was in their memories.”
“For us, being able to say Zak’s name acknowledges the important place he holds in our family’s hearts. That why we are so pleased to be involved in Say Their Name Day, and we know that countless other bereaved families will feel the same way too.”
How to get involved
There are many ways you can get involved and support Say Their Name Day this year.
You can choose to:
- Host your own event or fundraiser
- Make a donation to help support bereaved parents now and in the future
- Lend your voice and campaign online with us
- Create an online tribute in loving memory of your treasured baby or child