Dear Patricia Marie, 

I have just watched Coronation Street and am in floods of tears, because in this episode Michelle gave birth to a stillborn baby. It brought back traumatic memories of my own stillborn son five years ago. The acting was so believable, and when Michelle said her heart was breaking, that's exactly how it felt for me. In fact, despite being told time would heal my pain, I have never got over my broken heart.

Three years ago, I went on to have a daughter whom I adore, but I just can't move on from the loss of my beautiful baby boy. My husband struggles with this too, and if I do try to open up to him, he just dismisses my feelings. Neither can I talk to my to friends and family, as they seem uncomfortable speaking about my loss, which really infuriates me.

I never had counselling at the time because I believed it would be a waste of time as this could not bring my son back. Will I ever get over the loss of my son, and when will this intolerable pain go?

Patricia Marie says...

Time is a healer, but healing arises through the coming to terms with your own personal grief, and you need an outlet through which this can occur. Coronation Street has gripped the nation with this powerful storyline, and as much as this has ignited painful memories for you, it could well be the spark that encourages you to seek professional help. SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) is a helpline for those affected by the death of a baby. As well as being able to offer support, they can also help organise some counselling. Don't dismiss this, as you could find the results extremely beneficial. Group therapy in particular could make you feel better understood, and supportive friendships could be forged through sharing similar experiences.

Try not to be too hard on your family and friends. It's not uncommon for those closest to pull away during a grieving period, particularly when the loss is that of a child. This is unlikely to be because they don't care, but perhaps because they are upset too, and may even feel guilty that they have children who are alive and well. Tell them you need to talk and acknowledge your son, as even if they just listen, this should make a huge difference to how you are currently feeling.

Actress Kym Marsh, who herself gave birth to a stillborn son in 2009, said she had wanted these latest harrowing episodes to encourage those affected by stillbirth to speak out, and hopefully also enable friends and families of bereaved parents to gain a better understanding too. The programme also drew attention to the fact that parents cannot be given a birth certificate if the child is born dead before 24 weeks of pregnancy. SANDS, which worked alongside Coronation Street scriptwriters, has stated that many hospitals are now issuing certificates of birth for these children, to allow parents a keepsake. They added that if a hospital does not do this, parents can provide a certificate themselves for hospital officials to sign. The soap has been praised for increasing awareness of stillbirth, and for hopefully prompting a debate to change the law regarding birth certificates in such cases.

Don't suffer in silence anymore. You have been brave in sharing your story with me, and I hope you will now get the help you very much deserve. Have faith that your broken heart will heal through the nurturing process of opening up, and finally being able to express how you really feel.

Sands: helpline@uk-sands.org  020 7436 5881