Resources for parents who have lost a child

When I heard the news that a sweet woman working where I had a large show of my maternity and family work lost her baby after a healthy pregnancy, I was reeling. My first response was to replace all the images of pregnancy and children with soulful dog photos. But what else could I do? How can I help ease the pain?

I reached out to a community called the Columbia City Stroller Brigade. The Stroller Brigade is a rocking Facebook group comprised mostly of women who live in the southend of Seattle. I call on these mamas when I am at my wits end with my toddler, need a new pair of shoes for him, or  am looking for a laugh, many will post laughable moments that they find themselves in that actually comfort me when I am struggling to feel successful as a parent.

Not knowing any resources for grieving parents, I asked this hive. I was overwhelmed with the responses so I compiled them here in a list as well as posted the comments which are also insightful.

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Seattle Therapist, Leslie Butterfield http://lesliebutterfield.com/

Grief Counselor at Providence’s Stepping Stones, a baby/child hospice group Jane Flemming; jane.fleming@providence.org

Funeral home in Everett called A Sacred Moment that specializes in gentle/child/out of the box funerals and care for the dead.

Internet Loss Grouphttp://www.glowinthewoods.com

Supporting a parent who has lost a baby: http://psofpugetsound.org/support-resources/how-to-help/?doing_wp_cron=1457153625.3069128990173339843750

Books:

An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination

https://abedformyheart.com/motherofallmothers/ and

http://theseashoreofremembrance.blogspot.com.au/…/purch…. A celebrant (doesn’t have to be for the funeral/memorial – she can work with the bereaved even later on down the line to create rituals that help with coping with the loss – she can help make the dark beautiful):

 http://www.theemergefoundation.com/services/.

Video on Empathy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

 

 


Notes from all the mothers who posted to help any mother who has lost a child.

“My baby was born with unexected life limiting medical issues and died and 4 years later we still don’t know why it all happened. It’s obviously beyond devastating but survivable with support from family and community. I personally wouldn’t rely on hospitals and associated social workers having provided all the best resources – baby loss is not their specialty.

I found that personal recommendations from others who had travelled the path ended up being the most helpful. There is a therapist in Seattle, Leslie Butterfield (http://lesliebutterfield.com/) who is known for her work with bereaved parents and specifically moms who have lost babies – I can personally recommend her.

Also, Stepping Stones who are a Providence related baby/child hospice group have an amazing grief counselor (Jane Flemming; jane.fleming@providence.org) who also runs groups for parents – highly recommend – some people aren’t ready to start right away and that’s okay too – for us we were ready to meet other bereaved parents and know we were going to survive so started within weeks of our sons death others in our group started after a year.

There is also a funeral home in Everett called A Sacred Moment that specializes in gentle/child/out of the box funerals and care for the dead.

There are countless loss groups on the internet and Facebook but especially in the early days I really appreciated this site: http://www.glowinthewoods.com – it was more ethereal and comforting.

I think it is appropriate to gently pass along some recommendations. It’s better to be sure they have enough resources than not. It’s a lonely journey and anything that shows you care (and continue to care) will mean something to them whether they outwardly show it or not. I look back at the outpouring of resources that came our way and have no idea if I acknowledged how much every gesture meant to me.

Also, mark your calendar and reach out around this time of year every year if you feel comfortable. There are some people that I LOVE to this day simply because they heard my story and weren’t afraid to reach out to me. Some of my closest friends don’t say my son’s name and some people who were complete strangers continue to help me remember him. Don’t be afraid – you can help make baby loss less taboo.

I thought of a couple other things that you could include in your resources. 2 gift ideas: https://abedformyheart.com/motherofallmothers/ and http://theseashoreofremembrance.blogspot.com.au/…/purch…. A celebrant (doesn’t have to be for the funeral/memorial – she can work with the bereaved even later on down the line to create rituals that help with coping with the loss – she can help make the dark beautiful): http://www.theemergefoundation.com/services/. and this cartoon video that illustrates what the bereaved really need from their support system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw.” Alicia

 

“Most hospitals will have social work heavily involved in situations like this, and usually are making sure folks have all these resources, so I would wait on giving these to her. She probably knows about all of them already. Second what above posters have said, that she will need friends that stay there for her, remember her baby, and follow her lead.”  Michelle

 

“Oh my goodness, this is such devastating news. I have a friend this happened to a few years back. I think it’s great that you want to be ready with resources for your friend the hospital and her doctors have provided her with at least the basics for mental health professionals. When helping my friend through this time I let her lead, tell me what she needed, there are so many well intending gestures but they were more overwhelming than helpful at the time. I know that still birth and child loss is a subject that nobody wants to talk about so just being there and letting her talk and thoughtfully listening is probably the best thing you can do now.I will also add, it took my friend a year to come up for air. Check in, but don’t hover.” Anna

 

“This happened to my friend and after some time a group including her friends and family, came together to mosaic a memorial bench for their yard. I know that keeping his memory alive is really important to her. People also write the baby’s name in flowers, stones, sand, etc and send photos. These ideas were led by the parents and supported by the community as a way of not forgetting.” Mira

 

“Checking in is key & making yourself available. For one of my girlfriends it was so important to call the baby by name. I agree with the above that you should wait before offering resources. By all means gather & be ready, but she will probably not be ready to hear about them for a while. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t respond to you, but keep reaching out to let her know you haven’t forgotten & she’s not alone. For resources, I believe children’s hospital has a fetal/infant loss support group.” Mollie

 

“Yes to referring to her baby by name. This was (and continues to be) very important to her, even after the birth of her rainbow baby.” Karla

 

“When a coworker lost her baby under similar circumstances she asked that anyone who was interested read “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination” by Elizabeth McCracken. She wanted everyone to read it to help understand just a little bit of what she needed.” Nicki

 

“Support Forum for parents who have lost a baby: http://www.glowinthewoods.com/” Alicia

 

“Supporting a parent who has lost a baby: http://psofpugetsound.org/support-resources/how-to-help/?doing_wp_cron=1457153625.3069128990173339843750” Margaret

“Checking in is key & making yourself available. For one of my girlfriends it was so important to call the baby by name. I agree with the above that you should wait before offering resources. By all means gather & be ready, but she will probably not be ready to hear about them for a while. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t respond to you, but keep reaching out to let her know you haven’t forgotten & she’s not alone. For resources, I believe children’s hospital has a fetal/infant loss support group.” Mollie

 

” I think it’s great that you want to be supportive, but I personally would not suggest anyone unless she mentioned or implied she needed help and didn’t know where to start looking. She may just need her own family, time, church, etc. I’m just speaking from my own experience.” Tina


I will continue to add to this page as I learn more.

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