In Memory of Roseanne Joni Tait

This week we are remembering  Roseanne Joni Tait, who was born asleep on 27 June 2016.

In the week of her first birthday, I am dedicating Friday’s relaxation and meditation class to Roseanne Joni Tait and all children who have left us too soon. We will practice a quiet, restorative sequence and hold silence. All are welcome, particularly anyone grieving the loss of a child, at any age or stage of gestation, however long ago they left us.
If you wish to attend please book your space online (free).
Donations to the “Heart in their Hand” Appeal can be made on the night or via this link:
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/roseannesheart

I included below a few words about Roseanne’s story, her inspirational mother Dawn Tait, our yoga practice together and the role of yoga more generally in times of grief or extraordinary suffering

Bringing Roseanne to Yoga

Yoga, I am afraid to say, is not all about love and light. We have to also get acquainted with the dark.

Dawn first came to me for a postnatal recovery yoga session – something I have devoted many hours of training and service to since 2009. I have for 8 years run a postnatal yoga class that babies are welcome to attend. I have offered free sessions at the Sure Start centre in Alnwick and worked one on one with a number of wonderful women all using yoga to (re)discover their bodies and their babies in the new landscape of motherhood.

In postnatal yoga sessions, we work on practical things like pelvic floor exercises and split rectus muscles and also the endless fatigue and the inevitable fluctuations in hormones that leave us unpredictable and often a little confused! We discover that we are not zombies with “baby brain” but in fact super human beings that have been through the most incredible physical and emotional journey of pregnancy and birth. We make the time to appreciate ourselves and to enjoy the precious time we have with our babies – and at the end of the day, however hard it may be, it’s the babies themselves that get us through – their big eyes and gurgling smiles, the way they need us so intensely – they are our reward.

794bc4c2-6b63-44ed-8197-b40cb94756a7Dawn is my first client to come for postnatal yoga with no baby. Dawn delivered her baby at full term and is pictured here holding her newborn close to her heart as any mother would. But what this picture does not show is Roseanne Joni Tait was “born still but still born & greatly loved” (Dawn’s words).

In our first session together, Dawn told me her story and I sat and wept. The tears literally just rolled down my face and on to my clothes. I didn’t try to stop them as the suffering she has been through was so great and so close to my own heart I felt that to openly show my own heart-ache was the only real and genuine way we could possibly begin to work together. This was new territory for me, and I saw us as adventurers together, helping Dawn to navigate her own postnatal landscape – so very different from my own, and that of all of my other clients.

I was not well prepared. I thought of myself as a “postnatal yoga teacher” and although my training had touched on baby loss, I was not well prepared for this.

I have learnt so much. Mostly I have learned about suffering, and how, in our culture, we don’t want to talk about it. We keep it quiet, we hide it away, keep it secret.  In yoga, that cannot be. To bear own suffering we have to be able to see it, to feel it, to acknowledge it – and then we can hold it tenderly and not be destroyed by it. Yoga, I am afraid to say, is not all about love and light. We have to also get acquainted with the dark.

Contrary to how it is sometimes presented, Yoga does not make us perfect and Yoga cannot protect us completely from suffering. Practicing yoga allows us to become a bigger container in which to hold our suffering. It is as though each of us were a river of thoughts and feelings. At times in our lives we flow like a gentle stream and at other times we are a deep, wide, rapid and rushing channel. It is in times like these that we require the strong, wide banks that are created through our practice of yoga – loving and living in our bodies, befriending our breath and able to see the flow of our thoughts and feelings without being swept away by them.

This week I am supporting Dawn’s appeal to raise funds for our local hospital. I hope it will also raise awareness about baby loss, and I am glad for the opportunty to share this story. Amid the images on my website of happy, smiling mothers with their newborns, I wish for this story of suffering to be told, to be heard, to be acknowledged. I do not wish to be complicit in a culture that so tragically neglects pregnancy loss and still birth. Sharing Dawn’s story is one way for me to do that.

Since losing Roseanne, Dawn has worked tirelessly not just to find healing for herself but also to improve services for other women that find themselves in her position. She has used her Instagram account “postcards_to_roseanne” not only to remember her daughter in a most beautiful way but also to raise awareness about still birth, neonatal death and parental bereavement and raise funds for the people who are doing their best to help. She has made practical changes to the way bereaved parents are cared for in Cramlington hospital – ensuring that no one in the future who loses their baby will be required to attend check-ups in the maternity ward where they are presented with harsh reminders of all they have lost.

In the week of her first birthday, I am dedicating Friday’s relaxation and meditation class to Roseanne Joni Tait and all children who have left us too soon. We will practice a quiet, restorative sequence and hold silence. All are welcome, particularly anyone grieving the loss of a child, at any age or stage of gestation, however long ago they left us.
If you wish to attend please book your space online (free).
Donations to the “Heart in their Hand” Appeal can be made on the night.

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