Sarah Numan: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Supporting grieving families through the loss of a baby
Baby Loss NZ
Devoted. Inspirational. Passionate
The lack of empathy Sarah Numan experienced after losing her baby son Noah has made her determined to help others through their grief.
She does this through her charity, Baby Loss New Zealand, which provides support for bereaved families.
Noah was lifted at birth from Sarah’s arms. His body was sent straight to a post-mortem examination, and she had barely a quarter of an hour in which to greet him, hold him and say goodbye.
Since 2008, her charity has been helping bereaved parents and educating hospital staff to be sensitive through the first stages of grief.
The charity’s volunteers also engage in empathetic, judgment-free discussion with parents who have received a painful prenatal diagnosis and face agonising decisions.
“My community work means the world to me,” says Sarah, “because it feels like Noah’s legacy, and the legacy of so many other babies who’ve joined the angels early.”
She feels honoured to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It lets us, as a team, know we’re needed and in the place we should be.”
The charity has built a close relationship with Bereavement Care Services at Middlemore Hospital and its services are offered to every family whose baby dies from fourteen weeks’ gestation.
Bereaved families are provided with gift packages which are customised to their individual circumstance and include items such as teddy bears and a journal devised by Sarah, who has trained as a birth and bereavement doula to offer families full support before, during and after birth.
An important memory-making gift is a cast of the baby’s hands and feet, and Sarah has created more than ten thousand of these since 2008. “They provide a memory you can always touch,” she says.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
Baby Loss New Zealand will use its grant to sustain its three-hour packages, which give grieving families the tools and the time to cast, bathe, dress and truly be with their baby, says Sarah.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.