Today's Big Stories

SA author offers comfort to families grieving the loss of a child

1 in 4 South African families experience the loss of a child either during pregnancy, from stillbirth or shortly after delivery.

Family and Marriage Society of SA (Famsa) counselling manager Pauline Sevitz says that these families are often seen as "forgotten mourners" who are expected to move on with their lives.

Author Kate Polley was moved to write a book about coping with the loss of a child, after her own son passed away in 2010.

Sam and Finn is the original story of Polley's twin sons, and she wrote the book after Sam died, to help her surviving twin and other children understand the experience.

Polley explains that she wanted to provide an uncomplicated and age-appropriate message, where very little material on grief for children is available.

She says writing the book was a cathartic experience for her and highlighted the need for more educational material on bereavement platforms.

Polley advises that it has helped make the subject of child loss less taboo for children and families to discuss.

The book can also be customised so that grieving families can order personalised copies as a memento.

Polley says that there is not enough formal support for families dealing with grief and she had to turn to international closed-forum support groups.

Polley and Sevitz explain that many people feel uncomfortable talking about loss and grief and often end up making inappropriate comments.

They don't know how to respond to somebody who has had a bereavement.

Pauline Sevitz, social worker and bereavement counsellor

There's no right or wrong way of dealing with grief.

Pauline Sevitz, social worker and bereavement counsellor

Sevitz has encouraged grieving families to meet and talk about their grief and find ways to remember the life of their loved one.

Some proceeds from the Sam and Finn book sales will go towards providing free books to other local charitable organisations dealing with bereavement.

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