Great sadness as we say goodbye to one of our PANDA family
On 21st August 2014, Anna Bowditch, one of PANDA’s long standing Community Education Volunteers, died from unexpected complication from a routine operation. Anna was very active in the Community Education program, raising awareness and providing education about postnatal depression to mothers’ groups and health professionals. Those who were fortunate to hear Anna speak at an education session will recall her passion and drive to share her story in the hope that other parents might seek help for postnatal depression.
Anna enjoyed meeting and speaking to new parents, and I had the pleasure of working with her on many occasions. Anna’s story of postnatal depression is painful, sad and distressing, but her strong will and love for her family meant that Anna made a full recovery. In her story, Anna shares that postnatal depression made her slow down, take notice of the here and now, and to be the best mum she can be – not a perfect mum. Anna also spoke of great love for her family and how precious her husband, Stephen and daughter, Natalia were to her.
At Anna’s funeral, Stephen spoke of the family’s experience with postnatal depression and how he believes that it was terrible and incredibly difficult, but that it also made Anna more of the person she was meant to be. He spoke of her softness and nurturing qualities which emerged as a mother.
A few months ago Anna told me about a new mother in her playgroup who approached her and asked if she was “Anna from PANDA”, “yes” replied Anna. The mother went on to say that she had heard Anna speak 12 months earlier at a First Time Parents group at her Maternal and Child Health Centre. After hearing Anna’s story, the new mother recognised many similarities and was motivated to see her GP. The new mother was subsequently diagnosed with postnatal depression and soon entered a Mother and Baby Unit for treatment. The new mother expressed that she would never have known what was happening or sought help without Anna. Anna had saved a new parent from enormous distress and pain and achieved what she always wanted – to make a difference in someone’s life.
Anna, you did make a difference in the lives of many new parents. You were so courageous, open, honest and willing to share your story. Each time you spoke, you gave countless new parents a special gift – a little piece of you. You were absolutely dedicated and committed to PANDA’s work and I thank you for your professionalism. Thank you also for the great chats and your beautiful smile.
To Stephen, Natalia and Anna’s extended family, PANDA would like to say how deeply sorry we are for the loss of the vivacious and beautiful Anna. Please know she was greatly respected and admired amongst her peers at PANDA, and will be dearly missed.
written by Sonia, Community Education Coordinator.