Four months ago, young Como couple Paul and Ashleigh Sorensen were getting excited about the arrival of their child, a girl, already named Bronte. She would be their second daughter, with big sister Freya also expecting a sibling to dote on.
But 37 weeks into the pregnancy, Mrs Sorensen noticed she hadn't felt Bronte move. It was enough of a concern to go to hospital to get checked. A desire for reassurance suddenly took a cruel turn, with the parents being told their baby had died.
That day, May 31, will forever be etched into their memories as a day full of grief, but also, a day to remember Bronte and honour her devastatingly brief yet heartwarming existence.
The pair became strong advocates for peer support, becoming part of a small group created from Bears of Hope parents who meet weekly to share their experiences and find comfort in each other's presence.
"I've met quite a few women in Sutherland Shire - there are about nine of us in the group who have experienced stillbirth in the past few months," Mrs Sorensen said. "It's great having that support.
"Stillbirth is so unexplained. That's the most terrifying. But we have been quite comfortable talking about Bronte and what happened. We posted her story on social media - just as we would have if she had been born alive. So many people reached out to us with similar stories. There's benefit in sharing."
October 15 marks Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. To mark the event, Metropolitan Memorial Park is hosting a ceremony at Woronora for people who have lost children, to unite and remember their losses - from early pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidental events.
Bears of Hope, Red Nose, and St George Hospital representatives will attend, alongside white doves, bubbles, a harp player and a symbolic candle lighting ceremony that aims to illuminate a shared journey of love, at Karinya Garden, a dedicated resting place for in the cemetery for children up to 12 years of age.
"We haven't been to an event like this before," Mrs Sorensen said. "There are so few opportunities to celebrate a baby once you've lost them.
"We had Bronte's funeral at Woronora. It was a beautiful service. When we realised and saw the children's garden, we were drawn to it. I never thought a cemetery could feel like that. You can feel how much love has been poured into the garden. It's also nice for Freya to go see where her sister is and remember her."
Parks Administrator Ken Morrison said the event provided a safe and supportive space for families to remember their babies, surrounded by those who understand their pain.
"Events like these resonate deeply within our community, reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance of remembrance," he said.
Mr and Mrs Sorensen said although they were overwhelmed by their loss, they wanted to celebrate Bronte. One of their friends painted Bronte's name, which is hung on their wall at home, and another friend planted a memorial tree at Como Pleasure Grounds.
"We are really sad that we lost her but we have found really beautiful ways to remember her and talk about her and keep her within our lives," Mr Sorensen said.
The memorial service is on Sunday, October 15, at 121 Linden St, Sutherland, from 4pm-6pm.
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