Monday, December 10, 2012

Comfort and Support after Loss Memorial Service

“Our daughter left me a legacy of hope and a blessing of compassion,” said one parent. “Working with families who experience loss has made me a better doctor,” said an emergency room physician. These are some of the remarks heard at the 21st annual Pediatric, Neonatal and Obstetric Memorial Service held at Mass General Hospital for Children on November 4. The service is dedicated to MGH families who have experienced the death of a child, from infancy through adolescence, including miscarriage or stillbirth. Many families and staff return year after year to participate in what continues to be an extremely meaningful event.

Nancy Leventhal, LICSW moderated the service. Welcoming and caring remarks were given by Leslie Kerzner, MD, Neonatal Intensivist; Lauren Allister, MD, Emergency Room physician; and Courtney Craig, RN, from Vincent Outpatient Obstetrics. Felix Duran, from Interpreter Services, graciously welcomed the Spanish speaking guests, and Pediatric Chaplain, Kate Gerne offered a comforting reflection. Several bereaved parents shared heartfelt stories and poems to remember their beloved children. Others counseled families with more recent losses, telling them the importance of asking from their partner/families what they need “right now” and how to become strong and cope.

Lorrie Kubicek, an MGHfC music therapist, along with Kimberly Khare and Heather Smist provided a backdrop of guitar music and vocals during the service. Parents, families and friends were invited to participate in a naming ceremony and were given donated pewter hearts and daffodil bulbs to plant in memory of their children. Each family held a lit candle, shared a moment of silence and read together the prayer, We Remember Them. Many families hung decorated fabric memorials which will be placed in a 2012 memorial scrapbook. A photo slideshow, organized by April Kim, RN, depicting years of precious memories was shown. Heidi Jupp, RN and several volunteers provided fun activities for the younger attendees at the MGH Back-up Child Care Center.

Immediately following the service, a reception was held in the East Garden Room. Families had the chance to reconnect with their children’s providers and meet other families experiencing similar grief. Previous years’ memorial quilts and scrapbooks were made available for viewing during the reception.

The Comfort and Support After Loss Committee: Nancy Leventhal, LICSW; Clorinda Cottrell, LICSW; and Nancy Brophy, LICSW – Co-Chairs; Kathryn Beauchamp, RN; Kate Gerne; Heidi Jupp, RN; April Kim, RN; Leslie Kerzner, MD; Brenda Miller, RN; Jamie Lee Rossi, CCLS; Kate Stakes, RN; Eileen White; and Melissa Anne Whitty, CCLS.

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