In the wild, when an elephant loses a baby, the mother and herd console one another as they mourn the loss of such a precious member of their community.
The Journey Through Bereavement (JTB) perinatal palliative care program was created to assist families in their time of need. JTB offers customized support to families who choose to continue a pregnancy after receiving a life-limiting diagnosis for their baby. Through collaboration with patients, caregivers and chaplains, families in the JTB program receive guidance from a dedicated Nurse Navigator through each palliative phase of care.
We’re Here to Help
Families preparing to meet their child with a life limiting diagnosis are faced with a multitude of challenges and questions; however, Journey Through Bereavement believes that the Journey is worth the challenge.
To that end, some resources are available below which can help you make the most of your time with your child even if your health system is not a Journey Through Bereavement partner health system. For patients receiving care at a Journey Through Bereavement partner health system, the resources and support referenced below are pre-packaged, organized and will be made available to you.
However, even if your health system is not a Journey Through Bereavement partner, we want to provide you with some help, support, and ideas that can help alleviate your stress and help you make the most of your precious time with your child.
As a result, below are some ideas and resources that can help you make the most of your time with your baby, both before and after birth.
Cathy was our guardian angel. She stayed with me, prayed with me, and comforted me.
Brittney & David Bottoms
What We Offer Our Families
Support from the time of diagnosis through to the baby’s birth, life and passing
Personalized birth plan
Palliative care planning and hospice arrangements, if needed
Preparation for the baby and family
Emotional support via phone and email
Create mementos for families in remembrance of their child
Participation in “Celebration of Life” or Memorial Service
Coordinate with community partners to assist families with their service needs
Opportunities for giving
Identify Nurse Support
Ask your OB-GYN or Perinatologist if there is a nurse who can assist you throughout your pregnancy process. Invite them to reach out to Journey Through Bereavement if they are interested in leveraging our services.
Connect with another family
Even if your health system cannot provide dedicated nurse support, connecting with a family that has walked a similar path can be a big help. If you have a hard time finding another mom to speak with, reach out to us.
Develop a Birth Plan
In order to make the most of your time with your child, it is helpful to think through your decisions regarding your child’s care ahead of time. Below are some links to helpful resources.
Have a Maternity Photo Shoot
Even if your pregnancy isn’t “normal” it is still worth celebrating and remembering. Consider having a photographer take maternity photos. Reach out to “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” who gifts bereaved parents with an intimate portrait session that they cannot create for themselves.
ORGANIZE A PRAYER SHOWER
Many mothers facing the birth of a child with a life limiting diagnosis wish that they could have a baby shower, but they feel odd about it. Consider a “prayer shower” or an informal gathering of close friends to celebrate you and your child. Your child is precious and you are a hero…there is much to be celebrated!
Consider Burial or Cremation
While probably one of the most difficult parts of the planning process, giving thought to your plans in this area and seeking the support of your health system and/or local funeral home resources ahead of time can help you make the most of your time with your baby.
Delivery & Post-Delivery
Line Up Photos/Videos
If your health system is willing, try to line up for a nurse or someone in the delivery room to take photos and videos of your time with your child. Trust us, you will cherish them! Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographers may also be able to help.
Depending on your faith, you may wish to plan ahead to have a member of your faith community or a hospital chaplain on hand to administer religious rites that may be important to you.
bathing your baby
Even if your child may pass before you have the opportunity to do so, you may wish to consider giving your baby a bath, dressing him/her in some special gowns, etc.
SPEND TIME WITH YOUR BABY
Spend as much time as you would like with your baby. Your time is limited so make the most of it by asking your hospital what resources they may be able to provide to allow you to maximize your time with your baby. If your hospital has “Cuddle Cots” ask if they can try to make it available to you.
Post-Birth & Recovery
Seek a Support Group
Spending time with others who can relate your experience can be very valuable. Grief can ebb and flow and having access to the support of others who can relate with you and encourage you in your own journey through bereavement can be valuable.
Celebrate Your Baby
If your health system has a Celebration of Life or Memorial event, attend it, speak your baby’s name and remember him/her. You may also choose to have your own service to celebrate the life of your baby.
One of the most powerful things you can do to aid in your own grief recovery process is to help others and, in so doing, celebrate the legacy of your child and your journey with him or her. If you are willing to help others but don’t know where to start, reach out to us and we will try to help.