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Supporting Stillbirth Families

At the Stillbirth Summit 2011, the Saturday sessions were dedicated to supporting stillbirth families.  One of the more touching presentations was made by Pat Flynn, Sherokee Ilse, Vicki Phillips, and Sue Steen.  These amazing women have all spent many, many hours beside families as they endure some of life’s hardest moments.  Their “Let’s Not Rush” presentation taught us about many options open to families during and after pregnancy loss. Their use of role playing demonstrated many of their points in a very powerful way!

Every family will grieve differently.  Every parent will grieve differently.  The important part is for those around the family to make sure they are aware of all their options.  So many women will later report being in a “fog” during the early hours of their grief.  Unfortunately, this is when much information is provided and many decisions must be made.  The concept of slowing down during this time is aimed at giving these parents the best chance to comprehend their choices and make the best decisions for them. 

These choices may involve specifics of their altered birth plan, professionals to call (photographers, clergy, funeral homes, etc), interactions with family and friends, decisions about autopsy, and ways to create a lifetime of memories in a short amount of time.  The goal is to minimize regrets the family may experience in the years to come. 

Health care providers can play a large role in guiding parents, but this can also include many other individuals.  Parent advocates, grief teams, loss doulas, perinatal bereavement specialists, and others can be an invaluable source of support for families. Groups like Loss Doulas International (www.lossdoulasinternational.com), Missing GRACE (www.missinggrace.org), and Babies Remembered (www.babiesremembered.com) are wonderful organizations working to help families.  They could be a good place to start if you’re interested in learning about these programs, how to be involved, or how to ask for help for yourself or a loved one.  My wish continues to be that no family will ever need this type of guidance.  However, until that day, I am so grateful there are beautiful, caring individuals who are willing to help parents start their journey through pregnancy and infant loss. 

Lindsey Wimmer, MSP, CPNP, Executive Director

Star Legacy Foundation 

The Star Legacy Foundation welcomes guest bloggers.  If you have a topic that you would like to see shared with our audience, please contact us at info@starlegacyfoundation.org 

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