Monthly Archives: December 2018

A Very Special Garden Party

Yesterday Very Special Kids hosted a very special morning with some very special ladies. We had over 20 fashion and mummy influencers come to our grounds in Malvern with their children, to help us raise awareness of our latest #MomentsThatMatter campaign at our Very Special Garden Party.

Hosted by Jess Dempsey & Lorinska Merrington, the ladies had a fantastic morning filled with treats, photo-booth fun and a very special art therapy activity with their kids, in order to raise awareness of the important work done by Very Special Kids. The ladies also got to meet one of the bereaved siblings that we support, Jade Phoenix, who shared some very thoughtful insights and stories about her younger brother Josh, with the humbled attendees.

Some of the influencers involved were:

  • Lana Wilkinson
  • Sarita Holland
  • Rachel Watts
  • Olivia White
  • Olivia Anderson
  • Lisa Leverington

It was fantastic to see women that have such a large reach through their online networks, getting involved and encouraging their followers to get on board too. Not only did the ladies create their own special memories with their children by being in the moment, they also got to find out how important it is for Very Special Kids to keep creating more special moments for families facing the unimaginable.

Thanks to our event sponsors IKEA, Bunnings, Fleischer Cakes & Say it with flowers it truly was a very special event.

Thank you so much to all whom attended, we are so grateful for your support and look forward to seeing you again

The club I never wanted to be a member of

Reflection by Phil Oakley, bereaved father supported by Very Special Kids

 I am a member of the worst club.

This club’s membership requirements are too high. We don’t want more members. We are sad when new people join. The membership roster is already too big. Nobody wants to join, but nobody gets to leave.

Bereaved Parents Club is not a fun thing to be a part of. We don’t have very many meetings, and our meetings are, often, not very much fun.

Our club doesn’t discriminate in its membership. It doesn’t recognise barriers of age, ethnicity, ability, gender, religion, language or skin colour. Any parent, at any moment, could become a member, but we hope that you don’t.

The Very Special Kids chapter of the Bereaved Parents Club had a recent meeting on a weekend, organised and supported by the wonderful staff Kevin and Ange, and the volunteers Mary, Libby and Erin.

It was an awful weekend, full of grief, and tears, and feelings of loss.

It was a wonderful weekend, full of support, and recognition, and memories, and love, and connection.

Over the weekend we tried a few different approaches to help peel back the layers and unpack some of our challenges, and our responses, and our feelings. We introduced ourselves and our children, connecting our todays to our yesterdays, and some things that connect us to our lost ones. I feel enormously privileged to have met some amazing parents, and their amazing children.

We got to try some music therapy, with a guided relaxation and meditation; and to unwind some of the physical stresses we collect with some professional massage. We explored a variety of fabrics, and the ways that texture, colour and prints, along with some scents and essential oils, can trigger memories and emotions, connecting us to our children in various ways. We participated in some art therapy, despite our different levels of artistic ability, and found an outlet for associating words, feelings, and visuals. We took it on ourselves to try some food therapy, and some wine therapy.

We got to focus on being the parents of the children we have lost, all weekend. For some of us, we haven’t been able to focus on this since before they passed away. It’s not something we get to spend time doing in the ‘outside world’, with its ongoing pressures and requirements.

I want to leave this club, but I can’t. I will, forever, be a bereaved parent. It’s not something that I choose, it’s not something that I do. It’s part of who I am, and it’s not going away.

The only thing that makes it bearable to be in this club is the knowledge that we’re not alone.

Learning that my son Owen, who died 3.5 years ago, is still touching people’s hearts is an amazing gift.

Thanks to Very Special Kids for the support, and for organising the weekend. And enormous thanks to the other attendees, for hearing our stories, meeting our children, and helping us all to find connection in the loneliness.

Keeping Strong Workshops

The Barwon Region parents have been participating in the Keeping Strong Workshop series for the past 6 months. These workshops are designed to give everyone an opportunity to try new ways to manage stress and to help develop strength and resilience. So far we have done yoga, qijong, mindfulness meditation, art therapy and massage. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and some people have gone on to take up yoga or meditation on a more regular basis.

Being a parent of a Very Special child can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be exhausting and as a bereaved parent, devastating, so developing some skills to tap into when times get tough can really help. As one bereaved parent said, “Going forward I would definitely look into attending another workshop as I found it really relaxing and helpful.”

Another mother also found the workshops helpful in a number of ways, explaining “the content of what we learnt about mindful meditation was very interesting. These events really do help me connect with other parents particularly because we meet afterwards and can have an opportunity to chat about lots of things. It was really fun. Looking forward to the next one.”

Very Special kids is grateful to have this program funded by the Geelong Community Foundation.