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"Do not avoid my eyes. Do not walk away from me. I am a mother.
Come close, sit down and listen."

– Shelly Wagner

Support

Parent Panel

We are hosting ongoing bereaved parent panels to assure that medical staff members, including nurses, physicians and technicians can attend one of these panels. These parents tell their stories of loss in hopes that they can help make positive changes in the way that medical personnel provide compassionate care.

If you are a health care professional and would like to request a parent panel for your group, please contact Kristin Glenn at ph: 970.227.1229 or hope@3hopefulhearts.com.

"I have been working as a physician for 10 years with an additional four years in residency, and today’s opportunity to hear directly from patients who have experienced this type of loss has been one of my most meaningful educational experiences. I thank you for your courage to tell your stories and I encourage you to take these panel presentations to other health care providers such as emergency room staff, surgery centers, hospitals, etc. I think everyone could benefit from your message about what this type of grief is all about."
– J. Bradley Stern, M.D.
The Women’s Clinic
of Northern Colorado


Resources for Professionals


More to come

Watch for more friend resources and helpful articles as we continue to expand this website.

Especially for Professionals

A common concern from many well-meaning professionals is that they feel they don't know what to say or how to help the bereaved parents. When a child dies it is an overwhelmingly sad time for the bereaved family and for those who care about them. Even sadder is when fear drives health care professionals into silence and they say and do nothing at all. As Parent Panels are offered in the community, 3Hopeful Hearts will add suggestions directly from parents on how professionals can improve the compassionate care provided after a perinatal loss has occurred.

Do say...

  • "I don’t know what to say"
  • "I know how much you wanted this baby"
  • "I’m so sorry"
  • "What can I do to help support you?"
  • "Tell me about your support network"
  • Just listen… 

Don’t say...

  • "This happens to (this %) of patients"
  • "It’s just your body’s way of ending an unhealthy pregnancy"
  • "At least you didn’t get to know the baby"
  • "Be grateful for the baby you already had"
  • "It happened for a reason"
  • "I know how you feel"
  • "You already have other healthy kids"
  • "There probably was something wrong with the baby"
  • "It was for the best"
  • Religion-based comments: "It was God’s will. Now you have an angel, etc"
  • "You can always try again"
  • "At least the loss happened early on"
  • Anything that will trivialize the loss 

 

In Their Own Words... What Parents are Saying

Here's my story... "Some staff came in the room and didn't even acknowledge our loss. They were talking about vacations to Hawaii while I was giving birth to my three babies - all were gravely sick and small, and one was dying. I wasn't given any details about what was truly happening. I needed each doctor and nurse who was new to our care to say, 'I'm sorry - I bet your son was beautiful.' To say anything. The NICU nurses mothered and nurtured my entire family through the grief process; they hugged and cried with me. I wanted to be on the floor with the other mothers - I didn't want to run from the hurt, I needed to walk through it. One nurse helped my husband gently bathe our son before his pictures; after he had passed away. The NICU nurse rocked my son until the funeral home staff arrived. My doctor sat on my bed and cried with me when I told him I couldn't go home yet without my baby. Health care providers must treat the whole person and whole family. Do not write a script for depression as a fix. Talk to us, listen to us, cry with us, hold our hand, hug husbands too. Set the clinical aside and treat the emotional piece. In the end, compassionate care will offer more long-term healing and help, than a bottle of antidepressant. You cannot do too much for that family while in the hospital, do it all without asking if needed, the gratitude from the family will overflow. Don't let the fear of doing the wrong thing prevent you from doing the right thing for the grieving family."

Here's my story... "The loss of my son was absolutely devastating. The pain in my heart was overwhelming. The last place I wanted to be was in a hospital bed hooked up to monitors recovering from delivery. I just wanted to quietly be with my beautiful angel baby and to hold him. To love him. With tears in her own eyes, one of the delivery nurses held my cheeks in her hands and kissed my forehead. She didn't say anything. Her tender gesture let me know she cared. But I needed more. I needed someone to talk to. My husband needed someone to offer him compassion too."

Here's my story... "There is a need for miscarriage counseling and follow up. All too often a miscarriage is only followed with your health care provider (HCP) calling about your HCG levels falling to zero or a D&C needing to be performed. I needed information on a grief counselor that I could get a hold of during a very hard time. HCP's need to understand the anxiety that a mother who has experienced a loss goes through during subsequent pregnancies. The things HCP's say and do, stay with a grieving, anxious, emotional patient forever. Many HCP's made us feel like this is something they see everyday and that we were just a statistic; some even compared us to worse scenarios. Those who did not try to make the situation okay, but who gave hugs and said they were sorry were the most helpful. There were some who even went above and beyond. When a couple finds out they are pregnant many different emotions and worries exist. HCP's need to approach parents who have had a loss with compassion and emotion, and not as "I see this kind of thing everyday" attitude. This loss is the parents' baby - someone they have been thinking non-stop about since finding out they were pregnant."

Here's my story... "The hospital staff had been informed before we were in contact with them and that was helpful. Our nurses were fantastic. They were all knowledgeable and compassionate. They were accommodating to us as well as other grieving families. We felt fortunate to have some isolation from the rest of labor and delivery. Unfortunately it was not the same at our doctor's office. The clinical, cold treatment we received from our doctors was difficult. It was also difficult leaving the hospital when other couples were being discharged with their babies."

Here's my story... "How a health care provider (HCP) and especially the obstetrician reacts to your loss, can play a huge role in your healing process. It is very crucial to follow up with families and offer ideas of how parents can find support in the area. HCP's need to be aware of the grieving process and it's various stages (even some of the physical reactions that can surface such as empty arms syndrome or dealing with the pain of your milk coming in, etc.) HCP's need to be more sensitive to the emotions that surface with a subsequent pregnancy after a loss. Do not dismiss the loss as 'these things sometimes just happen'; or 'this is just one of those one in a million things'. Be careful when dealing with mental health issues vs. grieving - there is a difference! There is not a pill you can take to cure the loss of a child… It was so helpful to get cards from the nurses. I want to give the message that you can survive the death of a child. It is, without a doubt, the worst pain you'll ever experience, but you can and will slowly heal with time and it is so important to recognize and embrace the grieving process and reach out to others."

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