About Us

Our story is much like every other baby loss family. We planned, dreamed and hoped for a new baby to add to our growing brood. Anticipating another carefree pregnancy, our fifth, after four healthy births and four perfect babies, we had no need to expect anything less. But our bubble was broken and our dreams shattered when our fifth born child, third born son Bretton-Elijah Lucas arrived far too early on the morning of March 25th, 1996. His gentle birth changed our world forever and we will never be the same again.

Bretton’s name, written on a sandy Salt Spring Island beach, by our dear friend Anita.

Two years later, just as we thought we were healed enough to try again, our hearts soared with the news that we were once again expecting a new baby. This time, our miracle would be born healthy and full term, we were told, because stillbirth is so rare and would never happen to a family twice. But on August 21st, 1998, our miracle became another tragedy as Ciara-Rose Kennedi slipped into our hands and broke our hearts again.  A perfect baby, with the tiniest of lips, gracing our moments together with a smile.

Ciara’s name on a sandy beach, written by our friend Anita, on Salt Spring Island.

Since the births and deaths of Bretton and Ciara, our lives have been a roller coaster of emotions, angst, pain, growth and healing. We are stronger than ever but the years in between have included six more losses, all early pregnancies and just as heartbreaking as our two stillbirths.

We always wanted a large family, from the time we met but our plan and our dreams did not include the scenario we live with on a daily basis. Being the parents of two stillborn babies, four healthy young adults and six tiny miscarried babies defines us as a baby loss family but doesn’t diminish our love for any of our children. We parent in the present and from afar. Every moment is cherished. We embrace our babies as part of our journey and are grateful for the opportunity to share our path with others, with the hope of bringing healing to broken dreams and broken hearts.

In time, our grief energy needed to be put to good use and we created the H.E.A.R.T.S. Baby Loss Support Program in October of 1996 to offer care, compassion and confidentiality to those who walk the journey we walk each day. We were so encouraged by those who shared their stories with us that we knew it was important to give back to future baby loss families. As our program grew, we saw the potential to add other programming in and the BriarPatch Family Life Education Centre was born. Our name is a combination of Bretton’s first name (Br) and the middle of Ciara’s name (iar) and the Patch represents the logo we use for the baby loss program. It also represents our idea of helping families “patch” their broken hearts and their lives back together. One of our baby loss parents created the beautiful logo for the BriarPatch and if you look closely, you’ll see our family in the tiny hearts throughout. The BriarPatch Family Life Education Centre is a Non-Profit Society under the Alberta Societies Act and a Registered Canadian Charity and that gives families who utilize the programs or businesses who wish to support a charity the opportunity to make donations. Contact us for more information.

Whatever brings you to this page, whether you are a newly bereaved baby loss family or you are searching for ways to help others, please know that you are not alone and we are here to help. Send a note or leave a message on this website so we can reach out to you as you reach for support and understanding, along with hope for a healing journey.


Founders and bereaved parents, Cheryl and Bill, along with Chelsea, Brady, Brodie and Chynna, in loving memory of Bretton and Ciara, and our tiny six babies: Birkley, Cambria, Cabriola, Beau, Cree and Bentley.