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Dealing with your loss

Dealing with your loss

                      Jen Coates

Meet Jen Coates who is the Director of Bereavement Support and Volunteering at SANDS which is the UK stillbirth and neonatal death charity.

How can SANDS help?

SANDS have many groups across the UK run by trained bereaved parents, known as Befrienders to provider peer to peer support. They have a national helpline and have recently developed a bereavement support app to compliment all their services. They have an online community and as the voice of bereaved parents across the UK they have people interested in supporting research and influencing policy makers.

SANDS fundraise to provide bereavement suites in all hospitals where parents can spend those really precious hours with their baby after the baby has died. SANDS provide a Memory Box which has a hand and footprint kit and heart keyring.  The heart can be left in the baby’s hand and the keyring then is kept with the parent that has the outline of the heart on it.

The National Bereavement Care Pathway

SANDS, along with other charities developed The National Bereavement Care Pathway to enable professionals to provide gold standard care for bereaved parents. This pathway has been adopted by the majority of Trusts in the UK.

Problems during pregnancy and COVID-19

During the COVID-19 crisis SANDS has been working supporting parents who have been bereaved during this time, those who’ve been previously bereaved and those with subsequent pregnancies who are especially anxious during this difficult time.

During lockdown women have been concerned about seeking advice from their GP but Jen says that it’s vital that if anyone has any concerns about reduce fetal movement or if they start to bleed in cases of miscarriage then it’s important to contact your GP and don’t think that you can’t do this.

Support in the Workplace

SANDS work directly with many employers, offering support and also help in developing HR policies. The parental leave act that came into force very recently, really highlighted the need for good practice and adequate parental leave around bereavement.

Supporting Men

SANDS have worked hard to support men and in particular through football clubs across the country. They also ensure that they have male staff operating the helpline if needed.

Dealing with grief

Jen talks about grief and how people will grieve differently and at different times. As well as supporting the recently bereaved, SANDS support individuals who have been bereaved many years ago.


SANDS has many resources that you can access on their website including a workplace animation and bereavement support books for parents, grandparents and children to name a few.


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