‘Don’t use word angel’, stillbirth group is told

A SUPPORT group for the families of stillborn babies have had cards for grieving parents rejected by a hospital – because officials claim the word ‘angel’ could offend some people.

Members of the Clacton-based Whisperers were stunned to discover their supportive cards would not be given to newly-bereaved mums and dads because they were addressed to ‘angel parents’.

The cards were included in Whisperers’ Angel Mum Bags and were donated to Colchester General Hospital to be given to parents after the heartbreak of a stillbirth.

However Whisperers had to re-write the cards and address them just to ‘parent’ after the intervention of senior midwife Jenny Collins.

She said she was very supportive of the charity, but the word angel had “the potential to offend some parents.”

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Whisperers co-founder Michelle Taylor said the term was commonly used by parents who had lost babies and added: “I call myself an angel mummy and I have an angel son – it’s a lot nicer than saying I have a dead son.”

The group, which aims to become a charity, presented six bags in June after fundraising to cover the �27.50 cost of each one.

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The bags contain practical items such as toiletries and refreshments, as well as two teddies – one for the mum and one for the baby – which can be swapped on the day of the funeral, a disposable camera and a candle.

Mrs Taylor, of Salvia Close, Clacton, who co-founded the group after her son CJ-Steven was stillborn in 2007, said she found the cards had been taken out and opened after visiting the hospital last week for a meeting.

She said: “The cards were handwritten, offering our understanding and support to the parents when they felt ready, and had been signed by all of us with our phone numbers.

“I could not believe it when they said there was a problem with using the word angel – it is a totally appropriate word. I was extremely upset especially as when I handed the bags over I had read one of the cards out to another of the midwives and she said it was lovely.”

Mrs Collins responded: “Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has been very supportive of Whisperers and, as part of that, is pleased to offer the bags to parents who experience a stillbirth.

“However, we are not happy about the use of the word ‘angel’ on a card in the bag giving information about Whisperers because we suspect that it has the potential to offend some parents at what is an extraordinarily difficult and sensitive time for them.

“For example, not all religions believe in angels and secular people certainly do not.

“We did open the envelopes because we did not know what they contained and while we are offering the bags on behalf of Whisperers, it is essential that the trust is happy with all of their contents.

“Our suggestion to Whisperers was to simply use ‘parent’ which we feel is a word that will be acceptable to all parents who have just experienced a stillbirth.”

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