THE GIFT OF MEMORIES


When a family suffers the tragic loss of a child during birth, most people wouldn’t think that having images taken of this very emotional time would eventually help them through their grieving process.


Kym and Shannon Boyle were hesitant about having photos taken of their son Chester, who only lived for half an hour when he was born prematurely at 23 weeks.


An hour after he passed away, Mark Chapman was called to the hospital to capture images of the family.


Mark is a volunteer photographer for Heartfelt, a national organisation offering photographic memories to families who have lost a child through stillbirth, premature births, or who have children with serious and terminal illnesses.


Initially, he says, he was looking to “give something back to the community.”


“It was something that I could offer. I could offer my skills to those families that were basically leaving hospital with no memories to take home with them.”


When they lost their son a few months back, Shannon thought the whole idea of having photos taken was a bit bizarre.


“We received the photos off Mark and we couldn’t even look at them," he explains. “But we knew we had them and we knew that one day we were going to want to look at them.


“To be able to have them and to be able to pull them out when you’re not feeling very well ... allows you to sort of look back and go ‘Yep, he did actually exist’.”


Originally published on ABC Open and screened on ABC TV.

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