Bereaved parents unite at hardest time of year

In just one hour twin boys Jeremy and Benjamin Maher left a lasting impression on their parents.

The fact they didn't survive only strengthened the resolve of Louise and Peter, of Woonona, to try again "for a living family to treasure".

"Losing a child is the most devastating thing that can happen to anyone," Mrs Maher said yesterday. "It was my first pregnancy; they were born premmie at 24 weeks and didn't survive. It really left a hole in our lives," she said.

"Fortunately, I wasn't one of those people that was nervous to try again; twins often have complications, and we were fortunate enough to get pregnant fairly quickly."

Along came three energetic boys - Timothy, now 6, Oliver, almost 4, and two-year-old William. They were proof to Mrs Maher and her husband that life goes on and grief is manageable.

Jeremy and Benjamin, though, remain part of their family.

"Christmas is a time when we feel the loss the most; there's always that emptiness in your heart, particularly when people gather around with family and friends. You notice their absence," Mrs Maher said.

"It's more of an emotional time, I'm sure that goes for everybody who has lost a child."

She has urged anyone who feels the same way to visit Wollongong Botanic Garden between 10am and midday on Sunday for the Ceremony for Bereaved Parents.

"An event like this brings people together with a shared understanding of the loss they have had.

"Parents can lose a child regardless of their cultural background, age, their particular circumstances, but the one thing that unites them is that child they have lost."

Mrs Maher said meeting with others who had been through it themselves brought comfort.

"It's not something that's going to be a sad event, it's about celebrating the lives of children lost."

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