People are not taught how to deal with the death of a baby. Friends and family often donâ€™t know what to say. Most people expect the parents, especially the father, to return to work within a few days and be â€˜back to normalâ€™ within a matter of months, but the death of a baby changes parents forever . . .
As I finished a call and cradled the phone, an unfamiliar woman entered and then quickly exited my co-worker Loriâ€™s office. The woman had been carrying a rectangular object. I knew Lori* had left for hospital visit and wouldnâ€™t return for several hours. What had been delivered in her absence? Curious, I eased across the hallway and stopped at the doorâ€™s threshold to peer inside.
I gulped. Now I knew what had been brought for my colleague:Â a coffin the size of two back-to-back shoeboxes, its exterior elegantly wrapped with soft, padded fabric.
For the last few years, Iâ€™ve worked part-time at Hinds Hospice as a so-called Bereavement Support Specialist. Trust me, Iâ€™m not much of a specialist in anything, but my employers had to concoct a title for my duties. The part of Hinds where Iâ€™m employed is The Center for Grief and Healing and Angel Babies. The diminutive coffin had been brought to Loriâ€™s office by the person who had built it because of the final two words in The Centerâ€™s name . . . Angel Babies.
My bereavement work is exclusively with adults. I make follow-up calls to those who have experienced the death of a loved one. When a sister or grandparent or father or aunt has died under Hinds Hospiceâ€™s care, we make sure those who are grieving know theyâ€™re not alone. Not only do we call folks, but we also send monthly letters and sponsor various workshops and conferences throughout the year. Additionally, I lead grief support groups and do a variety of â€œthisâ€ and â€œthatâ€ for The Center.
But I donâ€™t work with the ones whoâ€™ll use the handmade coffin waiting in my colleagueâ€™s office; I donâ€™t deal with the parents who have, or will soon, experience their babyâ€™s final breaths. I like to think my work with adults struggling with loss allows my colleagues to have more time to care for parents grieving the death of a precious infant. Continue reading →