Some 80 islanders attended a poignant ceremony in Stornoway to release butterflies
in memory of lost babies.
Families gathered at the Lews Castle on Saturday for the first event of its kind
in the Western Isles which was organised by Sèimh (Gaelic for gentle peace), a new
local group which supports bereaved parents whose baby has died through stillbirth
or miscarriage, in collaboration with national charity Simpson’s Memory Box Appeal
As the lyrics of “In the arms of an angel” were sung by youngster Niamh Smith in
front of the castle overlooking Stornoway harbour, parents, grandparents, brothers
and sisters each carefully opened a small white box to free a specially bred Painted
Beforehand there was a gathering for families where individuals could talk about
their lost baby and read special poems.
Western Isles Hospital midwife Joanne Stewart who is involved with Sèimh said parents
found it a “positive experience.”
“It is very much needed and it helps families take the first step in healing.
She explained: “It is very difficult to come out publicly and acknowledge to your
friends and family. But within a group that knows what you’ve been through and what
has happened, it shows you are not alone.
“There is help available locally where people can sit down and speak to you.”
Susan Simpson, Highland Ambassador for SiMBA who hosted the event said it was “ beautiful
to release a living creature which has been bred especially for this in memory of
the child you could not take home.”
SiMBA is gradually increasing the number of such gatherings which “bring families
together in mutual support and understanding.
“As the butterflies take to the air they carry with them the loving thoughts of the
family member who released it.”
The butterflies are raised in captivity in a sanitary environment so are free from
disease which can affect butterfly populations.
Bereaved families are given the opportunity “to come together in a mutual act of
remembrance, honouring the memory of the children they could not watch grow up.”
This is important as “when a baby dies a family has very few memories to sustain
and comfort them through a lifetime of missing their baby.”
Sèimh meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm in the chaplaincy quiet room
at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.