Saying goodbye to our loved ones is the most difficult thing we are ever asked to do. We never have enough time with those people and spending just a few more moments with them can be a great comfort.
When it’s your child, time is even more precious. No matter how prepared for what you know is coming, the reality is undoubtedly so much harder. Time gives parents the opportunity to bond with their child, something that can be taken away all too quickly.
For the families who use Tŷ Hafan, this is the reality that they face every day. But, while families know that the clinical support they receive at Tŷ Hafan is of the highest quality, whether in the hospice, at home and in the community, it is memory-making and fitting every precious moment into their child’s short life they can that will stay with them forever.
Vicky Williams is a bereaved mum from Cowbridge whose 18 month old daughter Elis sadly died in 2010. The Williams family received bereavement support from Tŷ Hafan but the sudden nature of Elis’s death meant that they weren’t prepared to say goodbye to their little girl.
Tŷ Hafan has a small number of CuddleCots, special beds that keep baby’s temperature low to allow more time before they need to be moved on for the funeral preparations. Many hospitals and hospices all over the world use CuddleCots to allow families to spend as much time as possible with their precious child.
Vicky recognises the benefits of CuddleCots to families like hers and, to mark Elis’s 10th birthday this year, she has set up ‘Elis’s Legacy Fund’ and has been organising a number of different fundraising challenges to help purchase a CuddleBlanket for Tŷ Hafan. The blanket is similar to the cot, but is useful when the child is a little bigger.
Vicky said: “We want to give something to Tŷ Hafan that will help other families at a very sad time. Being given the option of using a CuddleBlanket so that families have the chance to say goodbye to their child how they want to and have as much time as they need is an incredible gift and something we never got to do.”
The main fundraising event will be a birthday party for Elis in October, but the family have been incredibly touched by the support from their local community. Morgan’s Hair Salon in Cowbridge raised £1,239.50 hosting a ladies evening, Tomos Y Lilford Brewery in Llandow raised £200 hosting a Christmas grotto and street food afternoon and Cowbridge Comprehensive has run a competition with their A-Level art students to design a logo for the ‘Elis's Legacy Fund’.
“The Hearts in their Hand is also a lovely way of sharing something with your child, you have one piece and your child takes the other piece with them. It’s such a simple thing but is a great comfort to families in this situation.
“Tŷ Hafan has been fantastic with us as a family and my children love the sibling days, bereaved sibling days, trips etc. For us to give Tŷ Hafan a much needed piece of equipment keeps Elis’s memory alive and will give others comfort.”