Photos help grieving parents

WHEN a parent has a stillborn, premature or terminally ill child, a memento is often far from their mind.

But sometimes a hospital staffer or friend will make a phone call and Steve Lovegrove will arrive, camera in hand.

Mr Lovegrove is the Tasmanian representative of Heartfelt, an organisation of photographers that takes photos of stillborn and seriously ill children so that parents can have a record of the brief moments shared.

Mr Lovegrove, of Geilston Bay, said the near-death of his son Thomas motivated him to start volunteering with the organisation in 2008.

"Thomas was born in 2004 and he spent several days in neonatal intensive care ... we were told to prepare for the worst," Mr Lovegrove said.

"I took a lot of photos because I found it was therapeutic for me to record everything that was happening and we didn't know if he would make it.

"After 24 hours he improved, but I looked at the parents around me and felt very much like I'd like to be able offer my photography to them ... a few years later, I heard about Heartfelt."

Mr Lovegrove said most parents didn't consider taking photos during such a traumatic time, but having a record of their child's life could be an important part of grieving.

"I'm not a counsellor, a psychologist or anything like that, but clearly it is very important to parents - just going by the response we get on Facebook with lots of people thanking us," he said.

"Some parents don't look at the photos immediately, others choose not to share them with family and friends, and others like to be able to share them with everybody."

Mr Lovegrove said he thought the organisation had helped remove the stigma surrounding stillbirths and infant deaths.

"I think attitudes definitely have changed," he said.

"For some it still is a taboo subject - some are horrified by the idea of deceased babies being photographed.

"But for the parents it can be incredibly important to have a record of that child being part of their family."

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