"When you lose a child, you are in such a desperate place you cling on to hope, and you cling on to optimism," she wrote.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 5, 2020. It has since been updated.
Cutting It star James Murray and actress Sarah Parish welcomed their first child in 2008 and named her Ella-Jayne. But their lives went upside down when they learned the baby Ella was born with a rare condition called Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RTS), which means she was likely to develop mental disabilities and has a higher risk of heart conditions, reports Mirror. Ella was a C-section baby who arrived 5 weeks earlier than her due date.
Ella-Jayne spent the first four months of her life in the hospital. She endured two life-saving heart surgeries before tragically passing away in January 2009, reports Hello Mag. Their infant daughter's death changed their lives forever. Not only did they lose themselves in grief but also found themselves in a strained relationship which was the consequence of the enormous agony that they went through.
In the heartbreaking memoir that the Mistress actress wrote for the Mail, she revealed, "Every year, on my daughter Ella-Jayne's birthday, I write her a special card, just like any other parent. Unlike other parents, I then place it in a drawer along with the other ones from past years that she'll never get to read. It's a ritual I have been through since we lost our darling girl – a way for me to mark the day she came into our lives."
She also went on to reveal that they tried to find hope in their new reality and be optimistic about the future but losing their firstborn caused tension in their marital life and they didn't know how to bring themselves back to life. "When you lose a child, you are in such a desperate place you cling on to hope, and you cling on to optimism. When my husband, the actor James Murray, and I lost Ella-Jayne, we tried to do both. But such an incredible loss inevitably puts an enormous strain on a relationship because people grieve in different ways."
However, as she puts it, they stuck to each other through some terrible times and helped each other emerge from the grief.
"I had support from my friends. But at home, Jim and I did things that didn't work for each other. The pressure of grief is such that either you end up separating or, miraculously, you don't. Jim and I have remained together despite some terrible, terrible times. We have our problems like any other couple. But we made some decisions which ultimately helped bring us through the other side intact." One such decision was to fly to Vietnam and Cambodia together to do some voluntary work in orphanages.
"It was either that or drink ourselves to death in the pub," Sarah admitted. "And – harsh though it might sound – we needed to escape the sympathy that enveloped us in Britain. It's very easy to think you're the only people in the world to lose a child, but the two months we spent in orphanages gave us perspective," Hello Mag quoted the 50-year-old actress.
This proved to be a break-even point in their lives and now they knew how to give their grief a positive turn. They launched the Murray Parish Trust in memory of their daughter, that helps sick children by providing them medical treatment and care. Talking about their trust, Sarah admitted that this initiative of theirs has brought them relief. This also helped them re-build their marriage and come close to each other.
"Doing these things has helped bring Jim and I closer together," explained Sarah. "Certainly it has brought a positive out of a negative. We've also come into contact with people we wouldn't normally have met, couples who've also lost children. We've heard about the horrors they've gone through too. I hope that Jim and I have helped people to see that something positive can come out of something tragic. Everybody has their own story and their own journey," reported Hello Mag.
She continued the same train of thoughts in the Mail article by saying, "We have made mistakes and done things that don't work for each other – and you either end up together, or you don't. I think if we hadn't created a charity, the Murray Parish Trust, in memory of our daughter, then things wouldn't have worked out so well for us."
James also believes that his grief has eventually opened newer doors for him. Speaking on This Morning, host Eamonn Holmes asked James if his grief had renewed his "purpose in life", to which he replied: "Absolutely."
Today, both actors are parents to 10-year-old daughter Nell who is a source of sunshine in their lives.