Empty Arms: a book for bereaved mothers

Book: Heidi Yelland.
Book: Heidi Yelland.

Nineteen years after the death of her newborn son, Naracoorte's Heidi Yelland is compiling a book that she hopes will help give other bereaved parents some much-needed hope.

In February 2000, Heidi gave birth to first-born son, Tom.

"He seemed healthy and strong, but sadly, 10 days later our arms were achingly empty. We didn't realise at the time, but Tom had a rare and fatal heart defect," Heidi said.

In the days, weeks and months that followed, Heidi, husband Nick and family experienced horrendous sadness and grief.

"One thing that really helped me see glimmers of hope was reading letters from mothers who had lost their babies. I read and reread those letters," Heidi said.

"They gave me hope that life could move forward, and that the debilitating pain wouldn't last forever."

Earlier this year Heidi decided to compile a book - Empty Arms - a collection of letters written by parents who have lost their babies.

She turned to Facebook to ask for bereaved parents to share their stories.

"I explained my project and asked for people to share my post in the hope that parents willing to contribute to the book would come forward."

16 women sent in their letters.

"They impart some wise words of wisdom as a parent that has walked the path of grief and reassure the reader that life gets easier."

Heidi said her aim is for the book to be distributed free of charge to grieving families; particularly targeting regional families.

The book will be supplied to hospitals, libraries and community health centres within the Limestone Coast.

The book has been funded by GoFundMe donations and a grant from Stand Like Stone Foundation.

The Go Fund Me page that Heidi started earlier this year raised $2697 and her successful grant application awarded her $3690 to go towards the publishing and printing cost of the book.

This Sunday, Heidi has organised two open gardens in Naracoorte to assist in funding the print run of the book. $15 will cover entry to Gum Point Garden from 10-11.30am and The Roost from 11am-4pm.

Visit Empty Arms Foundation on Facebook for details.