Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

‘Cuddle cot’ presented to local funeral parlour in memory of baby May Rose

A ‘cuddle cot’ and ‘snuggle mat’ which offer bereaved parents the opportunity to spend time with, and provide after-death care for their baby, has been presented to a Crossmaglen funeral home to be made available to grieving families throughout the area.    

The items were donated to McConville’s Funeral Directors on Saturday by the family of tragic tot, May Rose Gibney, who passed away last October at just 7 and a half months old, following a brave battle with the rare brain condition, Encephalocele.  The infant, whose mother Analee originates from the Newtownhamilton area, was born in March 2017 with the condition, which causes the brain to grow outside of the skull.  

With her devoted mum sharing her daughter’s progress online, little May Rose’s battle to survive soon captured the hearts of people everywhere, drawing support and well wishes from around the world.    Dubbed a “princess warrior” by her family, the infant confounded everyone by reaching small milestones and at just 5 months old she survived extensive brain surgery which her family were told many adults would not come through. Unfortunately, May Rose suffered a number of strokes in the weeks after surgery and her health deteriorated further, with the brave tot losing her battle on October 2nd. 

Following the loss of her daughter, May Rose’s heartbroken mum Analee wanted to do something in her memory that would help other families in similar situations.

Donations to a fundraising campaign during May Rose’s short life, together with proceeds from the sale of personalized Christmas tree ornaments, funded the cuddle cot and snuggle mat, which although based in Crossmaglen, will be available to all local funeral directors whenever needed.

Speaking to The Examiner,  May Rose’s grandmother, Maggie Gibney, a Tullydonnell native, said the family wanted to give something back to the south Armagh community for the overwhelming support they received.

This funeral home, as we have always dealt with Brendan Garvey and his family for bereavements and because we wanted to pay tribute to everyone in south Armagh who went above and beyond for us during May Rose’s journey.”

The grieving grandmother, who admits she still finds it hard to believe her beloved granddaughter is gone, explained how the use of a cuddle cot in hospital helped her daughter and family cope in the hours after she passed away, giving them precious time to say their goodbyes.

“May Rose passed away in her mummy’s arms just as she had taken her home from the hospital after another stay.  We were  lucky that Craigavon Hospital have a cuddle cot, so we got to nurse May Rose after she passed until the next morning.  If we had access to a cuddle cot at home though, we could have nursed and cuddled her for another day, something every bereaved  parent craves after the passing of their baby.

“It would have allowed Analee to change May Rose’s clothes one last time and hold her in her arms for another day before she was laid to rest.  It’s so important for parents to be able to have that bond and those memories to help them deal with their loss.

“We want any family who has to go through such unimaginable loss to have access to the cuddle cot and snuggle mat and we have also purchased a snuggle blanket which covers a hospital bed – for use by anyone who loses an older child or young adult.  It is floated from the Co-op Funeral Parlour in Omagh and is used in Craigavon Hospital,”  added Maggie.

The grieving grandmother says her daughter is determined to continue to help families in memory of her baby girl and she told us,  

“May Rose was a little warrior who battled right to the end and her passing has made us committed to helping other parents in the same situation. She was definitely sent to us for a reason and inspired so many people in her short life.”

The cuddle cot and snuggle mat will be located at McConville’s Funeral Directors in Crossmaglen but are available for use throughout the area.