October 28, 2020

Handling grief when a baby dies

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Ms. Annie-Mae Roffey

One of the most stressful and painful events in a parent’s life is the loss of a newborn baby.

The nine months up until the delivery date are filled with hopes, plans, dreams, picking out the right name, preparing for the nursery, buying baby clothes, and sharing the good news with one’s family and friends.

Much emotional energy is spent in this new adventure of bringing forth a new life into the world.

When death occurs, whether over the course of several weeks, or days, those plans and dreams come to a screeching halt.

iNews looks into resources for handling the death of babies with Ms. Annie-Mae Roffey who headed up the Littlest Angels grief support group back in 1997.

Newly bereaved parents need to understand that they are not alone and that their needs should be considered first.

There are various ways to help cope and parents should know, that if they wish to, they can see their baby, name the baby or take a keepsake.

Even the closure of having the baby tested and examined to determine the cause of death can help.

“Many people do not consider the loss of pregnancy before birth to be a death. But for those that do, there are women who are part of the support group that have experienced these sorts of situations and can talk and empathise with you.”

“Some women who experience a loss don’t want to talk about it for days, weeks and sometimes even years after the experience, but the group is there for those who want to talk when they are ready.

“The baby has rights too and depending on when the loss may have happened, the child can even have a funeral.” said Ms. Roffey

Rights included for the child are, to be recognised, to be named, to be seen touched and held, to be memorialised and to even be put to rest with dignity.

Ms. Roffey explained that the support group has seen women who don’t have their significant other or family member to help them through this time.

The group then tries to help the grieving parent to organise the memorial and burial for their baby.

She said, “Church’s and Bodden’s Funeral Homes have been extremely helpful in the past with helping us to organise funeral services if a burial is required.

“Sometimes we see women who don’t have husbands or families, and on top of that, have financial issues, so they can not afford to take on the funeral arrangements and we have been able to help with that too.”

The midwives and staff of the maternity ward are very helpful when it comes to giving the family a keepsake of the child. They will often help by taking handprints and footprints for the parents to take home as a reminder of the child.

The aim of the group is to give bereaved parents the chance to share their feelings about the loss and to help them with a positive resolution to their grief.

The group will provide memorialisation, one-on-one grief counselling, pastoral care, funeral arrangements at no cost, educational resources and group support meetings.

For more information please contact:

Annie-Mae Roffey         916-0132

Julene Ebanks              917-6829

Priscilla Powery             927-4213

Cindy Ebanks               947-4382

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