There just can't be anything worse than the loss of a child. It's heartbreaking, but a lot of parents leave the hospital without their newborn baby. The Bereavement Team at Avera McKennan didn't want to send them home without something.
Clinical Nurse Specialist Mary Kennedy says, " I sent a mom home who's 4 month old died and I sent her home with an empty car seat. I just thought there is something wrong with this."
The death of that child, spurred Mary Kennedy to start the Avera McKennan Bereavement Program. For parents who have miscarriages, still births or their child dies shortly after delivery they have no tangible memories. So the team makes sure they have something... foot prints, hand mold, pictures, a lock of hair something they can take with them. They also sends several cards to the grieving parents throughout the first year... just to let them know they are not forgotten and neither is their child.
Mary says, "We just want them to know we know we are thinking of them and care about them when they have nothing. Hopefully, by giving them the things we give them we are creating memories and they have something to hang on to. Something to hold."
If you want a touching way to recycle your old wedding gowns bring them to Avera McKennan and volunteers will hand make beautiful burial gowns for the babies.
Mary says, "We provide infant burial gowns so they don't have to think about all those details that come with having to bury a child."
To go along with the Bereavement Program Certified Registered Nurse Susie Peterson started the Infant Loss Support Group five years ago. The sessions run about 3 times a year at the Avera Behavioral Health Center.
Susie says, "Those lost children are part of the family. They are a memory and a person to be celebrated. It's nice to see them start at one end of the spectrum and be put at peace at the end."
The team not only provides a shoulder to cry on, they are sending home memories of love that will last forever.