Emma Malthouse with her children Indigo, 9, Jasper, 8, and Raphael, 4. Emma is part of the Sands group, which helps parents deal with the loss of a baby.
Emma Malthouse with her children Indigo, 9, Jasper, 8, and Raphael, 4. Emma is part of the Sands group, which helps parents deal with the loss of a baby. John Mccutcheon

Parents helping parents

SIX years ago Emma Malthouse lost her baby boy at birth.

Amid all the heartache she never thought she'd be strong again.

But the tables have turned and she's now reaching out to those in pain.

"I've got more strength now that comes through. Sometimes they (bereaved parents) see me and think, 'I will be okay one day'. I see them and think I've come a long way," she said.

A week before Mrs Malthouse was due to give birth, her husband fell incredibly sick with the flu, which then spread to their three children and her.

"It was a week of temperatures. I really struggled," she said.

"We lost Julian while I was in labour. I truly believe it was the flu. We never had an autopsy done but we all knew."

Mrs Malthouse said Julian had always been counted as one of her children and they all met him when he was born.

She said the family grieved in their own way and many people were eager to help.

"I felt like I just wanted to do it in my own way and didn't want to be a part of a group," she said.

"My husband and I were dealing with things differently.

"It was my mum who was struggling. Someone had mentioned to her about Sands ... she contacted me and thought it would help.

"Sands is a non-profit support group that offers support for families that have experienced that loss of a baby during pregnancy and infant loss.

"Sands offers various levels of support including phone support, group support, email support, library, booklets and pamphlets and monthly newsletters."

Mr and Mrs Malthouse started receiving newsletters, which gave her the motivation to join a group in Gympie.

"I went three times but thought, 'this is crazy, I live on the Coast'," she said.

The Sands group meets for a cuppa on the last Thursday of each month at 10am at Northshore Community Centre.

Mrs Malthouse said since joining Sands, her perception of a support group had changed and she felt they were necessary for grieving parents.

"I thought support groups would be serious. It was a really relaxed group," she said.

"I think it's really important. At the time, we had a social worker who saw me in the hospital.

"I said to her, 'would you contact me?' I was really lost and didn't know how to handle it. But she didn't call.

"When I got involved in Sands, talking to other people who know how you're feeling ... when we have our meeting you're in a safe place no one will judge you. It is really important to be able to talk about it.

"The support groups are set up for parents and families to talk, listen and share experiences in a safe, non-judgmental and caring environment.

"Parents often find comfort when talking to other bereaved parents.

"We're parents supporting parents. At the end of the day we've all gone through this ... we've all walked those shoes."

For more information about Sands call Emma Malthouse on 0435 243 226 or email malty784@bigpond.com.


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