Published Thu, 2011-03-31 10:48; updated 38 weeks ago.
Edward's Trust in Birmingham has been helping parents enduring the trauma of having lost a child for the past 18 years.
Headed by chief executive Christine Bodkin, the charity’s counselling service supports parents whose children have died, including those who have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.
About 200 parents a year from across the West Midlands and beyond are referred to the Edgbaston-based organisation and support is offered for as long as the grieving parents require it.
"There’s no time limit on grief," explains Christine, "so there’s no time limit on the work we do with parents.
"As far as we are concerned, we offer whatever support feels relevant to the particular parents.
"Some like to be counselled as a couple; others prefer one-to-treatment."
The charity, which was launched 21 years ago but began counselling services in 1993, offers a holistic service that focuses on the needs of the whole family, including specialist counselling for youngsters from the age of four upwards who have lost a sibling.
Christine said the charity, which is funded by the Big Lottery, also offers complementary therapies for parents as a way of addressing the physical aspects of their grief.
"Counselling is very much looking at the psychological side, whereas reflexology and aromatherapy help to ease stress, depression and anxiety."
In October 2010, it received funding from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities programme to continue the complementary therapy work for the next three years.
Edward's Trust, which accepts referrals from the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, also offers retreats for parents who want more intensive counselling in a group situation.
Ms Bodkin said that although counselling plays a central role in their work, they also explore other ways of helping bereaved parents, such as writing poetry or creating a memory book.
The award-winning Edward's Trust Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which was built in 2010, has copper leaves with the names of a child who has died hanging from the branches.
The garden, which is due to be opened officially in the summer of 2011, is known as the “tree of remembrance”.
Other charities that offer support to bereaved parents
Charities helping children who have lost a sibling
Due for review October 2013