• SANDS - Stillbirth & Neo natal Death Society (Malta)

  • A support group for parents who experience stillbirth or neonatal death

    About SANDS (Malta)
    The beginnings of SANDS Malta where in November 1994 when a number of SANDS founder members had met at a bereaved parent's home after this parent had wrote a letter in a local newspaper. Another meeting followed in 1995. SANDS (Malta) was officially established in January 1996 by a group of bereaved parents and members of staff of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology with the assistance of the Cana Movement.

    It now comprises a group of volunteers from various disciplines namely that of obstetrics, midwifery, nursing, social work, counseling and bereaved parents themselves. SANDS (Malta) is affiliated to SANDS (U.K).

    The primary aims of the Society are -

    To offer immediate support to the newly bereaved parents.
    To facilitate the process of bereavement through Support Groups.
    To raise awareness amongst hospital staff and society in general as to the needs of bereaved parents.
    To offer personal counseling if needed.
    Literature pertaining to psychological research has shown that adequate support helps significantly during the grieving process. In essence the amplitude of the anger phase and the duration of the depressive phase are significantly reduced. With our particular setup not only do we help our patients psychologically but we also help them medically, especially in the direction of the patients' general health and their future pregnancies. SANDS has also contributed in elevating the profile of the Government Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has helped other Obstetric Units in dealing with these difficult cases.

    Work carried out by SANDS (Malta)

    Hospital Support - When a baby dies, members from SANDS (Malta), who work within the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at St.Luke's Hospital, visit the bereaved parents and offer immediate support. This support could be of an emotional and informative nature. The parents are asked if they would like to see and be with the child for as long as possible. Other children and family members like grandparents are also encouraged to visit and hold the child. Photographs and other mementos like foot and handprints and locks of hair are taken. This is seen as helping the parents acknowledge the fact that they did have a baby whom they can miss and mourn.

    Support Groups - After about 6 weeks the parents are offered the opportunity to attend the SANDS Support Group sessions. These sessions are held once a week for seven weeks at St Luke's Hospital. They are semi-structured in format and are based on tasks that need to be worked through, admittedly, with a lot of grief and pain. The tasks that are discussed are the following:

    • To accept the reality of the loss.
    • To work through the pain of grief.
    • To adjust to an environment in which the baby is missing
    • To carry the memory of the baby while living a full life.

    Topics that are reflected upon include the necessity to mourn, society and the bereaved parents, grief and grieving. These deeply emotional topics are also interspersed with related reflections, poems, videos and songs by which the parents are helped to bring out the grief with the ultimate aim of helping them to gradually reinvest in life and in the future.

    Committee Members

    Honorary President Ms Joyce Sciberras
    President/Secretary Mr George Gatt
    Treasurer Ms Louise Gatt
    PRO Mr Richard Cassar
    Members Dr Yves Muscat Baron
    Ms Marcelle Cipriot
    Ms Marianne Teuma
    Mr Ray Teuma
    Ms Doris Azzopardi

    During 2003, SANDS first Chairperson, Ms Joyce Sciberras, resigned. The Group owes a lot to Ms Sciberras and is very grateful for the services she has rendered to the Group and our Clients over the years. Ms Sciberras accepted the appointment of Honorary President and remains in contact with the Group. All of the members wish her success in her future.

    Activities in 2003

    During the year 2003, SANDS members working at St Luke's Hospital assisted clients in 86 different cases. This figure does not include Clients from previous years that were supported by SANDS members also during the current year. In total SANDS members working at St Luke's Hospital had approximately 400 new client contact hours. Furthermore these SANDS members also provided immediate bedside support for bereaved parents in hospital as well as attended funerals.

    During 2003, SANDS also organised four Support Groups, each Group having six meetings of 2 hours duration. A total of 44 Clients attended these support group sessions. All support sessions were held at St Luke's Hospital and co operation with the Hospital Authority is increasing.

    SANDS members also organised the Communal Burial Service for babies who died before the viability date. This was held in November at the Addolorata Cemetery. A total of 50 fetus were buried. Burial was preceded by Mass concelebrated by Fr Joseph Calleja who is also providing the group with his services as Counseling Supervisor.

    During the same period the SANDS committee also organized one Social Gathering. This gathering took place in December. It was preceded by a Remembrance Mass and attended by a substantial number of bereaved parents.

    More information below:

    For detailed information about specific subjects related to the loss of a child through stillbirth or neo-natal death, you can choose from the subjects listed below. Just click on the subject of your choice. This information is being published by courtesy of SANDS - U.K.

    About the Children
    Mainly for Fathers
    Sexual Problems following a Stillbirth
    The loss of your Grandchild
    The Next Pregnancy: Guidance for Parents

    It has proved very difficult to find trained counselors to co-facilitate the support groups (even against payment). To continue providing this service, SANDS committee members are taking it in turns to facilitate Support Groups whilst they themselves undertake Supervision Counseling from Fr Joseph Calleja. All services offered by SANDS are free and all members offer their services on a voluntary basis.

    Contact us:

    By telephone on
    21 238 068 and 21 238 942

    By mail addressed to
    The Secretary, SANDS (Malta)
    Cana Movement, Catholic Institute

    By email on support@canamovement.org

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