Grieving parents gather at special Derby service to remember their children
THERE is not a day that passes when Diane Concannon does not spend time thinking about her first-born son, Reece.
The 36-year-old lost Reece at birth on December 2, 2004, from a rare genetic condition.
And yesterday, on the anniversary of his death, she was among other families gathered at an annual memorial service at Derby's Central United Reformed Church held to remember children they have lost.
Holding a wreath decorated with roses and a teddy bear marked with her son's name, she spoke of the complications during her pregnancy.
"The pregnancy was fine until I started going for scans," she said.
"They found some problems and it meant Reece was born asleep.
"We agreed to a postmortem and they said he had skeletal dysplasia, a defect brought through an abnormal gene.
"It would have meant that his ribcage would not have grown to full capacity, as well as having shortened limbs.
"It's quite a traumatic problem and means the baby does not grow the way it should."
She felt isolated after Reece's death but received fantastic support from medical staff, support groups and her family.
"That's what helps to make you stronger and carry on," she said. "There is so much heartache and you feel it's the worst time in your life but you have to keep going.
"It happens and people don't understand until they have actually been through it.
"You think to yourself, 'Why me'?"
She gained further strength from her second son, Lewis, who is six.
"Lewis has helped us to carry on," she said.
"We will always have two children – one is a little shining star. That's how we see him."
Speaking of the Christmas Rose Service, Mrs Concannon said: "It's a really lovely way to remember.
"It's sad and you shed tears but it's nice to be able to talk about it."
The annual service was organised by the Bereaved Parents Support Group.
During the service, parents were invited to light candles in memory of their children and to hang stars on the Christmas tree.
It was led by Minister Pip Short and featured readings and hymns.
Sue Fearn, of Oakwood, also attended. Her son, Garry Gorman, died in May 2002, aged 18 after a heroin overdose.
"This is my 10th Christmas without him," she said.
"It's a family time of year and, although I miss him all of the time, it's more poignant around Christmas."
Over the years, she has received counselling from Lauren's Link – a charity that supports families affected by drug misuse – and has attended the Christmas service ever since her son's death.
"The service is a time to be quiet and reflect and remember the good times and the not-so-good times," she said.
"You learn to deal with it. Although the tragedy never goes away, you get on with life the best way you can."