Parent Voices

‘Broadchurch’ Star Sarah Parish Opens Up About Losing Eight-Month-Old Daughter

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Sarah Parish has opened up about the devastating loss of her eight-month-old daughter in 2009.

The ‘Broadchurch’ actress, 48, and her husband  42-year-old husband James Murray’s daughter Ella-Jayne died due to a heart defect caused by an uncommon condition called Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome.

“The day she died she took a bottle for the first time; she held our gaze and smiled into our eyes,” Parish wrote in the Daily Mail on 11 March. 

“For Jim and I, it was very, very difficult and it left a huge hole in our lives. I now know that losing a child is the hardest thing to happen to anyone; that we had never experienced tragedy before she died.

“We had never truly understood grief or loss.”

Neil Mockford/Alex Huckle via Getty Images
Sarah Parish and husband Jim Murray.

Parish, who is mum to seven-year-old Nell born 10 months after Ella-Jayne died, said the death put a strain on her relationship with Murray.

She and her husband were grieving in different ways and she said it was difficult to know how to comfort one another in the right way. 

But the actress said that setting up their charity – the Murray Parish Trust – in memory of their daughter was a way for them both to cope with their loss.

The charity raises funds for paediatric facilities across Hampshire, The Isle of Wight, Dorset, West Sussex, Devon, Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and The Channel Islands.

Their latest challenge is to raise £4 million for a new Paediatric Emergency and Trauma Department (A&E) in Southampton to cover the entire South of England and The Channel Islands.

Parish said every year on her daughter’s birthday, she writes her a card. Eight months after, she and her husband mark another annual ritual on the day she died and “stay indoors with our memories”. 

Parish previously opened up about losing her daughter in August 2016. The couple said they were ready to talk about the “saddest time in their lives” because they wanted to help others going through similar experiences. 

Speaking to The Mirror, Parish said she was told at her 35-week scan her baby was “very small” for her dates. She had to be induced and had a caesarean. When Ella-Jayne was born she had to undergo blood transfusions and heart surgery. 

She was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome and the couple were told she could die within 24 hours.

After Ella-Jayne died at eight months, Parish and Murray volunteered abroad at a Cambodian orphanage for disabled youngsters.

“It helped put things into perspective because otherwise it’s very easy to think you’re the only people in the world to lose a child and go through something awful,” she said at the time. 

The couple are currently organising a charity event called the “Ginormous Teddy Bear’s Picnic” from 5-11 June 2017. Find out more about the event here.

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