Bereaved parents and their continuing bonds

11th December 2017

A new book by a professional counsellor draws on her experience of offering a service for bereaved parents at a London teaching hospital

Bereaved parents book

"Bereaved Parents and their Continuing Bonds: Love after Death" by Catherine Seigal considers how continuing bonds are formed, what facilitates and sustains them and what can undermine them.  

Using the words of bereaved parents, and drawing on current theories of continuing bonds, the book is an important reference for both professionals and parents.

It covers subjects such as the benefits of a therapeutic group for bereaved parents, the challenges for parents when another child is born, the significant role of siblings in keeping the bonds alive and the particular experience of how it is for parents whose child dies before birth or in early infancy.

Dedicated to parents

Writing in her dedication, the author says, “This book is dedicated to all the parents I had the privilege of meeting and working with when I was a counsellor at a children’s hospital."

“What you taught me has stayed with me in a way no book on counselling theory ever could. Thank you for allowing me to be alongside you during that very difficult and dark period of your lives."

“It is also dedicated to your children, knowing that your love for them continues forever.”

Among the parents who spoke to Catherine were the Burdetts. Their 2-year-old daughter Faye tragically died from meningitis in February 2016, sparking a huge emotional response to the petition calling for more widespread use of the Men B vaccine.

Giving tragedy meaning

Writing in the book about the family, Catherine says, “Faye’s parents took an intimate and tragic family event and made it public in a way that alerted the country to what they believed was an unacceptable ruling on an NHS provision. In those desperate hours just before her death, Faye’s parents found a way to give her tragedy meaning."

“Faye’s father spoke to me of the comfort it brought him and his wife to know that Faye’s life had ‘made a mark’; it made them proud of her.”

Referring to the many moving stories to be found on our website, she adds, “In all that follows, the chaos, bewilderment, grief and despair, parents want and need to share their child’s story with others; not only to raise other parents’ awareness; not only to change legislation and NHS priorities; not only to pledge to support research initiatives and fundraising events; not only to feel they are part of a community of parents who have been through the same – but also to put their child’s name out there, to make these small lives significant and known to many, because only then can there be any fragment of sense or meaning.”

Steve Dayman, our executive founder, commented, “The death of a child will leave parents going through a range of emotions. Of course it’s not just the parents; meningitis causes a ripple effect, so it will impact on the whole family. Although we can’t change what has happened, we are there during this painful and difficult time, to make sure that support is available to make sense of what happened – however long ago."

“Bereavement is a sensitive subject, so we hope that the book provides some form of comfort, to those coping with the loss of a loved one.” Steve added.

The book is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN 978 1 78592 326 5. Prior to retirement, Catherine Seigal, BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor, worked as a counsellor at a London teaching hospital providing a counselling service for parents of children who were patients at the hospital.

If you want to share a meningitis story with us we would love to hear from you.