REMEMBERING YOUNG LOVED ONES: From left, Jonathan Swartz, MD, Jessica Rosenthal, MD,Jennifer Rodriguez, MD, Avram Traum, MD, and Leslie Kerzner, MD, holding baby Anna Tosches, a sibling of a patient
The loss of a child is one of the most devastating experiences a person can endure. The staff of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) Pediatric Palliative Care Service understands the special needs of the pediatric patients and family members facing a serious, chronic or potentially terminal disease. They also understand the grief experienced by parents and siblings who have lost a young loved one. On Jan. 20, the families of four pediatric patients who passed away last year gathered in the Trustees Room for "Remembering Together," an event to honor the recently departed children and their families.
With support from a grant from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, the MGHfC pediatric palliative care team provided the forum as an opportunity for reconnection and healing. Approximately 35 MGHfC caregivers took part in the event.
"Our intent was to provide an opportunity for reconnection that would be healing for both the families and for the providers, particularly those caregivers who might not have had the chance to say 'goodbye' to the child or family they cared for," says Sandra Clancy, PhD, MGHfC Palliative Care Service manager and patient advocate. "We were all moved by the warmth, openness and gratitude that was shared – by the parents to the providers for treating and caring for their child and by the caregivers who expressed gratitude for having had the opportunity to know and care for the child. The event held such a positive and compassionate atmosphere with much joy and even laughter interspersed throughout our moments of remembering and honoring the children."
As a highlight of the event, each guest took a moment to write a message with a memory or words of hope and inspiration on a piece of brightly colored paper attached to a ribbon. Each individual hung their message on a "Remembering Tree."
Some of the reflections included, "Thank you for allowing us to take care of your beautiful daughter," from a pediatric resident and a father's message to his young daughter saying, "I truly miss our 'Satur-daddy days.'"
To close the event, Rev. Ann Haywood-Baxter, MDiv, pediatric chaplain at the MGHfC, read the poem, "Late Fragment," by Raymond Carver.
For more information about the Pediatric Palliative Care Service, access