Sarah Brown: "Losing baby Jennifer changed me forever"
“The big, overwhelming, debilitating pain”: How losing my baby changed me forever, by Sarah Brown
2:00 AM on 19th May 2011
Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah has revealed that losing their baby daughter Jennifer changed her forever.
In a profoundly personal essay, she admitted she found some relief in realising she did not need to ‘mend’ herself after the death nor return to the person she was before.
The PR executive, 47, wrote: ‘I had assumed I must find a way to recover and resume my life, which proved impossible. Instead I realised that the loss of Jennifer had changed me forever, and importantly I realised that this was OK.
Hurt: Sarah and Gordon Brown leave Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in January 2002 after their baby daughter died. Mrs Brown has spoken of the “overwhelming pain”
“With that understanding, a burden lifted from my shoulders and I looked afresh at how to move forward.’
Jennifer, the Browns’ first child, died of a brain haemorrhage in 2002. She was born two months prematurely on December 28, 2001, in a hospital in Kirkcaldy, but lived for just over a week.
Mrs Brown wrote: ‘The clich that the passage of time helps is certainly true. The first lesson is to recognise that the big overwhelming, debilitating pain that hits from time to time does subside and, as hard as it is to go through it, you learn that you do come out of the other side each time.’
Poignant essay: Mrs Brown said that the “pain that hits from time to time does subside”. The couple”s first child, Jennifer, died of a brain haemorrhage in 2002
Mrs Brown revealed that forcing herself to think about Jennifer helped her cope with the tragedy.
She wrote: ‘The other thing I learned is to continually open my heart to the love I feel for my daughter, no matter how painful that can be at times. There is a temptation to put something that hurts to one side in order to cope better in daily life. Actually the reverse is true.
‘Just recognising the full extent of your love means you can cherish, remember and properly honour the person you have lost. I learned simply that I did not need a way to mend myself, nor to return to being the person I was before.’
Mrs Brown’s piece forms part of a book of essays called The Death Of A Child. Proceeds from the book – due to be published on June 1 – will go to the Child Bereavement Charity.
Pain: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown broke down in a TV interview with Piers Morgan when he spoke about the loss of the child
The Browns have rarely spoken about the heartbreak of losing their first baby. Mr Brown spoke of his ‘incomprehensible’ pain in 2009, saying that the effect of Jennifer’s death had been ‘to make every moment seem precious’.
The former prime minister broke down in public last February when he spoke of the loss in a TV interview with Piers Morgan.
When their second child John was born in 2003, he said: ‘It is true to say for both of us that nothing can ever be the same again. Jennifer will always be part of what we are.’
The couple went on to have another son, James Fraser, in 2004 but suffered a further shock when they were told that he had a mild form of cystic fibrosis.
Mrs Brown has been involved in the Jennifer Jane Brown Research Trust for neonatal deaths. She is also the president of Piggy Bank Kids which aims to help vulnerable babies, children and young people.