CHAS hosts first virtual remembering day for bereaved families

Remembering Day at Rachel House in Kinross gives bereaved families an opportunity to gather and fondly remember their children.

By Dave Kerr
Saturday, 20th June 2020, 7:30 am
As birds tweeted and the wind rushed in the background of Rachel House’s garden, the name of every child was read aloud by nursing, kitchen, maintenance and administrative staff.
As birds tweeted and the wind rushed in the background of Rachel House’s garden, the name of every child was read aloud by nursing, kitchen, maintenance and administrative staff.

Usually held at the hospice, families from throughout its 24 years of service are invited.

The annual event typically takes place in person but current Covid-19 restrictions meant that was not feasible.

However, that did not deter activities co-ordinator Alison Blair from producing a virtual service, involving her colleagues across the hospice.

As birds tweeted and wind rushed in the background of Rachel House’s garden, the name of every child was read aloud by nursing, kitchen, maintenance and administrative staff.

Led by Chaplain Amanda Reid, resident musician Rachel Drury was joined with musicians from Chamber Music Scotland to perform songs. A poem was also recited by Rami Okasha, CHAS’s chief executive officer.

Alison said: “It’s extremely important to us that we provide families this communal opportunity to remember their child with others who have walked with them.

“As we are all living in relative isolation right now, we knew this was going to be a particularly emotional day, when the absence of these children would be felt on a truly profound level.

“The current pandemic has put many obstacles in front of us but we’re even more determined to reach the families we know. This is a powerful example of that.”

Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunties and uncles were present online from homes all over Scotland.

Among their number was Kathy Huffman, of Coldstream, who said: “We appreciated the opportunity to share in this experience with everyone at Rachel House.

“It was lovely to see some familiar faces and understandably some new ones as it has been a few years since our daughter Maggie passed away.

“Our older daughter Audrey, who has very fond memories of the time we spent at Rachel House, was very emotional at the start of the service and was excited to hear Maggie’s name read out along with all the other boys and girls.

“We can never thank the staff of Rachel House enough for the warmth they provided to us when we stayed.

“It is so comforting to know that they’re always there.”

Fellow mum Rachel Hall, of West Linton, said: “We are approaching the second anniversary of our son Archie’s death and he is on our minds constantly.

“This service allowed us to stop, think and remember him. The format was also a good way for our daughters, who feel a bit ‘on the spot’ at live things, to take part. Events like these really do help and make us feel less alone.”

Lynne Allen, from Fife, lost her son Ethan in 2012 and attended the remembering day in peron in 2013.

She said: “We remain so grateful to Rachel House but found it tough showing up in person. My husband and I both tuned in for the online service this year and would like to do the same next time.

“We watched on, knowing that there were so many other bereaved families alongside us who carry this heartache every single day too. It was a shared experience.”

And Nicola Edmond of Inverurie, added: “To Rachel House, we just want to thank everyone involved so much for a beautiful service.

“My husband Bruce and I were very impressed by how smoothly it all went. The readings were emotive and the musicians were excellent.

“I found it very emotional and powerful, which I didn’t expect with it being online.

“Thank you for making us and other families still feel a part of the CHAS family, for remembering our son Jack and all the much loved children.”

If you would like to support the work that CHAS does to help children with life-limiting illnesses, visit www.chas.org.uk.