As I sit here this morning preparing to do a training with the staff of a local birth center, I’ve suddenly realized that I’ve developed a personal philosophy of care. I’m sure it’s not unique, I’m sure someone much more educated or experienced than I am has said this kind of thing before. But it’s new to me- or rather, I’ve realized that this is where the whole of my ‘theory of healing’ rests.
I believe that perinatal bereavement care is about the long-term healing. The way a client perceives his/her treatment around the time of the family’s loss deeply impacts long-term healing and that the single greatest factor that influences that long-term healing is the client’s satisfaction with the family’s treatment and options around the time of the loss.
Losing a baby is NEVER easy. It is always hard, ugly, obscene. Out of that soil we hope that families grow into peace, acceptance and eventual joy and life again. I believe that if a family is treated kindly and compassionately, if the reality of their child is acknowledged and they are given options of embracing their child and their identity in whatever ways are appropriate to them, if they are *re-membered* after being *be-reaved*, that soil is tempered. That soil is turned and fertilized and the hope of healing becomes more of a reality for that family.
So this is what I teach- that what happens to a family around the time of their loss, the way they are supported, loved and validated deeply impacts how soundly they are able to lay their own foundation for their eventual healing. I teach birth workers to embrace silence, acknowledging that this is a holy time. I encourage acts of service to address the many, many unexpected practical needs that surround the death of a baby. I advocate for validation of the loss- this really does *matter*, both immediately and for the rest of this family’s life and I support the idea of carpe diem. The family has such a short time to actively pour love and acceptance into their baby- whether it’s before the baby is born that the family begins creating life-time memories or if it’s in the hospital room in the hours after the unexpected loss, I encourage all families to seize the day and to do now whatever they can imagine wanting to do with their child. Look at the sunrise, take a family bath, read a story- there is no tomorrow for this family with this baby…
So today I will share some of this with a new group of birth workers. And my hope is that this means some family, somewhere will be treated a little more gently, will be offered a little more validation, will heal a little more soundly.