I occasionally get tagged by friends on social media asking me to complete a task of some description. Many of these challenges are a bit of fun and others have a charitable element – remember the ice bucket challenge that raised over €1.6m for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) a few years back? Others I would be more sceptical of, believing that they are simply a way for the social media platforms to encourage people to visit the site regularly to boost their own revenues.
I was tagged in one of these last week. It was the 10-day challenge, which asks you to post a picture every day for 10 days celebrating and appreciating life as a mother. Lovely idea in theory, but last week I was confronted a few times with the reality of being a mother who is missing one of her children. As a result, the only picture in my head was that of the white memory box that that has sat for two years with the pink and green boxes containing the memories of my two living girls.
In the days following the loss of our Bó, as we called her, I was astonished by the number of people who, while expressing their condolences, understood my pain only too well.
Unfortunately, data from the INFANT Centre shows that early and late miscarriage, still birth, neonatal or infant death, occurs in 20-25% of pregnancies.
Our features editor, Maria Moynihan, sadly understands this loss only too well herself. I admire how she has spoken out about the loss of her Danann and I really value her insight when writing pieces such as that.
Maria spoke with some of the frontline staff who continue to provide support for families who lose a child during pregnancy or shortly after birth. I personally found the support of the bereavement nurse in Waterford, Jill, really important.
Féileacáin is one of the charities that supports parents who have lost a child. They were the ones who supplied me with my white box of memories. They also help by capturing actual images, if that is what you want. This is a personal decision. Images can bring joy or sadness when memories are evoked. I was reminded that I had failed to post a picture of my first pony Magic, as I had promised.
In my search, I found lots of old family pictures. Between someone not looking at the camera or having snot hanging from a nose, these images would never have been developed if their quality was known. But with no option to retake and no deleting, they are now a glorious memory of a great childhood, but also of those now missing.
When my colleague Pat O’Toole asked me if I would be interested in a piece on his uncle Louis, who died in a farm accident one year ago, I instantly said yes. It is very difficult to communicate the farm safety message. I find, like with so many things, that people connect best when they see their own image in the story. And I think a lot of farmers will recognise themselves in Louis’ story. The photo of Louis on top of the page jumped out to me – painting a 1,000 words.
I was out driving the other evening and when I reached the ‘Y’ in the road near my house, I came head-to-head with a tractor. He braked, I braked. He looked shocked and I was not the better for it. The skid marks are still on the road where I take my evening walk. The simplest thing can catch you!