THE life of a little boy who only lived for three weeks was celebrated last Thursday as his fourth birthday was marked by letting off balloons near his grave.
Theo Welsh was born on January 10, 2009, and passed away on January 30 from exomphalos - a rare condition affecting only one in 5000 babies.
His short life inspired mum Nicola to help other families who face the pain of losing a child.
Nicola, husband Gary (36) and their other two sons Lucas (5) and Oscar (1), stay at Canal Court, Threemiletown, and their lives are full of memories of Theo.
Nicola (38) said: “When you lose a baby, it’s difficult to know how to remember it.
‘‘As a family we always release balloons, we bake a cake and blow out candles, and sing happy birthday to Theo.
‘‘The children put messages on the balloons so he can read them in Heaven. For us, it’s about turning something sad into something positive. Theo is part of our family and we want to celebrate his life.
‘‘It’s a happy day - this is the day we met him and I think of what he would want - does he want a mum that is happy or sad?”
Theo is buried at Kingscavil Cemetery, close to a bench that Nicola has had dedicated to the memory of Theo and all the children that rest there, with special permission from West Lothian Council.
Nicola added: “The bench is to encourage people and it’s a nice place to reflect.
‘‘I’d like to think others can start to use this space for the little ones they miss - as a way of remembering their loved ones. We have our whole lives to visit here.”
With council support, there are also plans for the garden around the bench which will become a central focus point in the cemetery as it expands.
Contact details will also be placed on the bench for SANDS Lothians, the charity that Nicola works for as a West Lothian coordinator, which supports bereaved families.
Since the Journal and Gazette reported on the group last January, it has gone from strength to strength.
Nicola added: “Links with St John’s Hospital are good - a family recently got in touch with SANDS only a week after they had suffered a loss.
‘‘I have already met them and they are coming to the support group.
‘‘This is happening more and more and it’s fantastic, as there can be a real lack of support when you lose a child.”
Nicola’s group offers monthly support meetings, and a one-to-one befriending service, for any age.
With a donation received last year from Linlithgow Round Table, Nicola designed a cotton bag which is now given to grieving parents at the hospital.
It includes a photo album, candle, information on SANDS Lothians, and a card to leave their details, so that they don’t leave empty handed and they know support is available.
To contact SANDS Lothians call 0131 622 6263 or go to www.sands-lothians.org.uk