Monday, August 13, 2007

Coming to terms with loss

MICHAEL Newman recounts the heart-wrenching time a man in his 70s called, seeking counselling over his wife's miscarriage more than 50 years ago.

"He had carried that grief around for 50 years," Mr Newman says.

"They had never come to terms with the loss."

Shock and disbelief that such a widespread problem could go so unnoticed initially moved Mr Newman to action. Every year, a staggering 50,000 babies are lost to miscarriage or stillbirth.

The Bonnie Babes foundation is a not-for-profit organisation offering support for those who have lost babies through stillbirth, miscarriage or prematurity as well as raising funds for essential neo-natal research.

Entirely dependent on the work of volunteers, the foundation offers grief counselling while aiming to reduce the number of baby deaths.

Mr Newman, 49, from Hunters Hill, contacted the foundation two years ago while setting up his own marketing firm.

"I was told about the extraordinary work the organisation was doing and thought I could really help here," he said.

Since joining the Bonnie Babes team two years ago, Mr Newman has volunteered his expertise in marketing to help build awareness of the Bonnie Babes cause.

"I was shocked by the magnitude of the issue. One in four women lose a child. So this is something that really affects a broad cross-section of society," Mr Newman said.

"There really aren't many worthier causes, yet this continually gets swept under the carpet."

Mr Newman is the creative force behind TV and print campaigns, brochures and web design and marketing. This year he worked to relaunch National Babies Day, to be held in October as a high-profile event.

Co-author of a book on the subject, Mr Newman has interviewed more than 40 men and women who suffer grief involved in the loss of a child.

Silent Tears will be released on Mother's Day next year.

"It has been a highly emotional experience but ultimately there is a real sense of catharsis," he said.

Bonnie Babes Foundation office manager Debbie Chalmers said Mr Newman could be credited with bringing the fledgling charity into mainstream consciousness.

"He lives and breathes this foundation. Without Mr Newman . . . this charity may not have survived. He's a truly inspiring man," she said.

In May, Mr Newman became the second person to receive life membership of the foundation. Now the tireless campaigner has been nominated for the Pride of Australia Medal in the Community Spirit category.

"I am delighted. This is a dedicated and close-knit group of people. It has been a joy working for them," he said.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, we were interviewed for the book and haven't heard a thing since. Does anyone know if the book will be published?
Gavin Blue