The whole earth heaved and flashed, a tremendous and magnificent column rose up in the sky. There was an ear-splitting roar drowning all the guns, flinging the machine sideways in the repercussing air. The earth column rose higher and higher to almost 4,000 feet. There it hung, or seemed to hang, for a moment in the air, like the silhouette of some great cypress tree, then fell away in a widening cone of dust and debris.
The explosion from the mine created what was then the loudest man-made sound in history, with reports that it was heard in London. In fact, the crater can still be seen today.
What this illustrates is that when something devastating happens, the effects are felt far and wide. And so, when a baby is lost, it is not just the parents who grieve.
Of course, this does not take away from the epicentre of the grief, the chaos and upheaval and devastation experienced by the parents who have, in the poignant words Jason Manford used in a recent blog post, found themselves with 'Nothing. For the longest time. Nothing.' But the blast from the explosion affects friends and family, who wrestle with the awful news and seek to be a source of comfort.
This is mentioned a number of times in 'How I Came To Hold You'. For example: Sue and Steve Hale lost their son, Matthew, who was stillborn, and Sue recalls the funeral.
"There was no music or hymns, and it only lasted about ten minutes. It was heartbreaking and yet I was numb at the same time. My mum’s reaction to the tiny white coffin is one I’ll never forget.”
Sue's mother was looking forward to being a grandmother, but had the title cruelly taken away from her. Her loss, although slightly diluted when compared to Sue's, is still a heartbreaking burden to bear.
'Dear Finley' is a blog written by Lisa Sissons, whose son tragically died soon after birth. On her page entitled 'Finley's Story', she speaks about the day she laid her son to rest.
On 21st April, we had Finley's service. It was as lovely a service as we could have hoped for. We did a balloon release and picked poems and songs. It was heartbreaking to see so many people upset because they loved him too.
Every day, seventeen mothers and seventeen fathers mourn the death of their baby through stillbirth or neonatal death. And, behind them, are parents, grandparents, family and friends; all of whom are collateral damage in the devastation that occurs when a mother and father has to bury their baby.