Eternal memories for a little life cut short

When their son Connor died at 24 weeks gestation, Canberra couple Andrew and Deborah Braddock were initially unsure about having a photograph taken of their boy.

They were grief stricken, and the thought of capturing that emotion for all time seemed very hard.

But Mrs Braddock said she wanted a reminder of her son that she could hold onto forever.

"I was just saying to myself at the time, I'm not doing this for me now, I'm doing this for me in five years' time, or two years' time," she said.

Heartfelt is an Australia-wide charity of professional photographers who, when asked by parents, take photos of babies who were stillborn, who have died neo-natally, are terminally ill, or have been born very early.

The photos are all taken free of charge, and Heartfelt representatives send prints and CDs of the photographs to the child's family soon after they are taken.

Heartfelt ACT representative, Hilary Wardhaugh, photographed Connor and the Braddocks at a funeral home a few days after he was born in September.

The former radiographer said Heartfelt's work represented a shift in the understanding of how best to care for grieving parents.

"Years ago the baby was taken away and that was it, whereas these days everyone's recommended to get as many memorials of their child as possible, because that's all they've got left," she said.

Mrs Braddock said she looks at the photographs of Connor a couple of times a week, and Mr Braddock said it was an important way for the couple to remember their son.

"We don't want to forget him, we don't have any other reminders of him, we haven't got a favourite toy or anything like that, so these photos are literally it, it's something we can always go back to," he said.

There are six photographers who volunteer for Heartfelt in Canberra.

To learn more about Heartfelt, visit their website

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