Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Loss, Bereavement And What To Do

A member of our multiples club just lost her newborn babies. Born too early via emergency C-section, one died almost right away, the other fought for a few days but, tragically, he wasn't able to make it. Everyone in our club is feeling this loss, not necessarily because we knew this woman personally, but because each and every one of us can place ourselves in her shoes. 

As a friend, there's such a feeling of helplessness as you want to offer comfort; but not being able to fully put yourself in someone's position or knowing you have what they just lost can make you feel awkward and uncomfortable. Many people who have experienced such a loss want to be able to talk about it, they want to be able to remember their babies and share their experience. Just being there and listening can often be enough at first.

As I've written before, a twin, triplet or higher order pregnancy is a high risk one. When you're feeling well and having a fairly easy pregnancy, as I did, it's sometimes easy to forget this fact. I am writing this post, not to scare anyone reading it who may be in the early stages of their pregnancy, but to provide a list of resources for you should you or anyone you know suffer through a loss like this. I did not join my multiples club until well after my children were born so if something so tragic had happened to us, I would have had no idea where to turn. The organizations and groups below can be a wealth of information even if all you want to know is how to support someone else going through a heart-wrenching loss. 

National Organizations

CLIMB - The Center for Loss in Multiple Birth

MISS Foundation - Mothers in Sympathy and Support 1-888-455-MISS

  • Intervention Team – 24 hour hotline available with trained volunteers
  • On-going support : Local support groups, Online forum boards, Annual conferences, Newsletters
  • Free family support packets
  • HOPE (Helping Other Parents Endure) peer counseling program
  • KISS (Kids in Sympathy and Support) peer group for bereaved siblings
  • Community Outreach
  • Financial assistance to help with burial funds
  • MISSing Angel’s Bill – Birth Certificates for stillborn babies
  • Kindness Project
  • Parent Bereavement Contact for additional information: Sari Edber or Tracey Letteau or Tracey Letteau 213-804-7281
SHARE SHARE provides support for families after early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or newborn death.

California Local Support Groups

Long Beach Memorial Perinatal Loss Support Group
  • Open support group for parents who have lost an infant during pregnancy or shortly after birth.  Open group, no pre-registration required.   Facilitated by Rev. Sharon Yagerlener. Contact: Sharon Yagerlener (562) 933-1454 No charge for the group 2801 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90806 Meetings: 2nd & 4th Monday of each month 7:00-8:30 PM

Tarzana Support Group
  • Early Loss Support Group at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center A support group for families dealing with miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy, stillborn loss and newborn loss issues.  Groups are led by a professional and new groups are formed as needed.  The weekly group meets for six weeks (usually in the evening at the hospital). No charge for group. Call for dates and times: Wendy Kelman (800) 779-6636 or Women’s Resource Center (818) 609-2280
Therapist Referrals:
  • Joyce Boucher, LCSW, MFT, 310-455-1779, Santa Monica and Woodland Hills. Individual and couple’s counseling for grief and loss, including pregnancy loss, stillbirth, abortion, medical/genetic issues. Also working with cancer and general illness.
  • Pamela Varady, Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She sees adults, children, and couples for psychotherapy at her office in Santa Monica, California, and offers phone and e-mail consultations. 310-452-1273
  • Joan Rankin 310-815-9565 Culver City, mother of twins in addition to being a MFT
  • Barbara Brawerman, MFT, 310-274-2780, West LA
  • Carol Schneider 323-934-2366 Los Angeles (Pico-Robertson area)
  • Susan Swanson Davis, LCSW, 310-274-2780, Beverly Hills
  • Diane Ross Glazer, PhD, 818-592-6257 
  • Dr. Walter Greenberg, Psychologist, 310-824-2087
  • Lina Kaplan, PsyD, 310-277-4305, Los Angeles. Clinical psychologist specializing in helping women and couples contend with the experience of pregnancy (prenatal) loss.
  • Gabrielle Kaufman, MA,ADTR,NCC, 310-289-2202, Near Wilshire and Crescent Heights, (National Certified Counselor and Registered Dance/Movement Therapist)
  • Colleen Kelly MA MFT, 310-266-4876, 2001 South Barrington Ave, Suite 203, Los Angeles, CA  90025
  • Stephanie Book Koehler, MFT 310-391-5851 Los Angeles 90066 (Mar Vista) Trauma specialist who uses gentle, cutting edge techniques that go beyond talk therapy and are based in neuroscience. EMDR, Somatic Experiencing and EEG Neurofeedback.
  • Melissa Quade, MFT, 818-688-8166, Encino Focusing on helping women and families cope with pregnancy loss. 
  • Jack N. Soll, MFT, 310-471-2210, Brentwood  
  • Pilar Stein, LCSW, 310-990-5148, 
  • Ellie Ross, MFT, 310-586-6995, Santa Monica Specializing in loss related to infertility and pregnancy loss, and other couples’, families and women’s issues.
  • Patricia L Wisne, 310-828-1332, 1427 21st St, Santa Monica, CA 90404-2970
  • Tara Palansky, MFT, 323-860-8866 Los Angeles (Larchmont area - marriage and family therapist, specializes in grief/loss counseling and support)
  • Dorothy Weiss, Ph.D., 310-855-0388, 8631 West Third Street, Ste. 620-E, Los Angeles, CA  90048, 
Recommended Books and Resources for Bereaved Parents
Books to help explain what you can expect at first:

Grief Journeys - 1st hand accounts of individuals’ healing processes after a loss

Books for the next stages:

Blogs about infant loss and beyond
  • Finding A New Normal - life after the death of premature newborn twins (written by the woman who inspired this post).
I hope none of you will ever need these resources; but if you do, I sincerely hope they help.
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The Twin Coach said...

Some additional suggestions from a friend:
I know a lot of people have talked about feeling helpless and wanting to help. A couple of things that you can do to help people in this situation are:
• Give a donation in memory of her children to an organization like the MISS Foundation or The March of Dimes.
• You can also donate blood. MANY babies in the NICU need blood and platelet transfusions and often are a different blood type than their famlies. There is a huge blood shortage.
• There are also organizations with each NICU (I know Cedars has one) that can use volunteers or that you can donate to.
• Also, many of the funeral homes donate the cost of funerals or cremation to families in these situations. You can donate to those types of organizations.
In any donation you give, if you want they will send a donation note to the family and let her know that you donated in memory of her children (or you can go anonymous).

Mia said...

Hi Gina, There is also a non-profit called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. They are a group of photographers who will come and take a picture of you with your child who has passed away. The pictures are beautiful and heartbreaking and I have heard that it is important for parents to have photos of their babies for the healing process and to remember them by. The website also has a lot of resources.

Anonymous said...

oh this just breaks my heart. not such a helpful comment but it really breaks my heart & I am sending love their way.

Sheri Perl said...

I lost my son Danny on July 1, 2008 to an overdose. He was 22. In dedication to him I formed The Prayer Registry for parents who have lost children.

Please see my website and read about The Prayer Registry. This free website service is dedicated to all of the families who have lost children, whatever age that child was when they passed. This site registers the anniversary day of our children's crossing. The members of this online community,the Prayer Team, have the opportunity to honor their child's legacy, connect with other bereaved parents, and participate in world-wide group prayer for every registered loved one on the anniversary day of their passing.

There is no charge for this service; it is my sincere hope that every bereaved parent who registers a child will join the Prayer Team and be a source of prayer for all of the children on the other side. Each time another child is registered, the Prayer Team grows larger and stronger.

Please email Sheri at to register your loved one on The Prayer Registry. I need only your child’s full name along with the date that he or she passed to insure that your child receives prayer every year going forward on the anniversary day of his or her passing. Your child’s name will be published on The Prayer Registry calendar and I will upload comments, biographies, or any other information you want to share about your child with our community of bereaved parents. Once registered, you will be a member of the Prayer Team and will receive Prayer Registry reminders one week and one day before the anniversary day of one of our kids.

Please feel free to email any questions, concerns or feelings that you would like to share. My door is always open. I hope that this site provides some small measure of balm for the wounds of loss. From one bereaved parent to another, I welcome you to my site and offer my support.

This is one club that none of us would join by choice, but since we find ourselves in this unthinkable place, we stand stronger when we stand side by side.

The Twin Coach said...

Thank you, Sheri. I am so sorry for your loss, and what you are doing to honor your son's memory is beautiful.

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