Before Leaving the Hospital

As bereaved parents, some of the most significant moments that shaped our grief-healing journey occurred at the hospital. The first 12 hours after the passing of an infant is an important and confusing time for grieving families.  As time is limited, our hope is that newly bereaved parents can be provided with tips to help guide them as they say their final “goodbyes”.

Please view “Wish I Had Known” and the accompanying Tips for Healthcare Professionals document that medical professionals, as well as family members can keep in mind when supporting couples.

Letter to Bereaved Parents

Dear Parents,

As bereaved parents ourselves we understand that there are no words to ease the pain or express the sorrow of losing a child…our deepest condolences.  When we were told that our infant son had died, we were in a daze and unsure of what to do next.

After consulting with medical professionals as well as other bereaved parents, this letter was created to assist parents in the first 12 hours after delivery and/or the loss of an infant. Knowing that time with your child is limited, we have outlined suggestions for newly bereaved parents. Please be assured that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to spend time with your baby. The decisions are up to you and your comfort level.

You have the option of spending time with your child, some suggestions include the following;

* Cradle and kiss your baby, keeping your son/daughter in your room for as long as you need.

* Look at his/her body, features such as feet, toes, fingers.  You can gently open and admire your child’s eyes

* Play a special song, sing to, and talk to your baby

* Bathe or sponge bathe your baby’s face and/or body, dressing your daughter/son in a diaper, clothing and warmed blanket

* Have pictures and video taken of your child, this will give you the option of viewing them at a later date.  Note that in some areas, volunteer professional photographers can take pictures at the hospital or home. Ask a friend/family member to go to (NILMDTS) as soon as possible to make an appointment. There are helpful tips on NILMDTS for those who choose to take their own pictures.

Before leaving the hospital or centre, you can;

* Invite family members/friends to see and hold your baby

* Take an ink and/or plaster impression of your child’s hand and footprints and a lock of hair saved

* Keep your infant’s hat and hospital bracelet as well as yours

* Hold your little one to say goodbye and have him/her wrapped in a warmed blanket

During your stay, you might be asked the following;

* To meet with a Social Worker to talk about important things to consider

* If you would like a visit from a clergy member. Clarify if there is someone specific such as your Pastor that you would like to see for a blessing or prayers.

* If you wish to have an autopsy report. Communicate where you want the body of your baby to go afterwards, especially for an early miscarriage.

* If funeral arrangements have been made and where your son/daughter’s body is to be taken e.g. morgue at the hospital or funeral home

* To give blood samples and make a doctor’s appointment for a check-up

We can understand how overwhelming and difficult this time can be, please be gentle on yourselves.  We encourage you both to seek grief support if needed.

Yours truly,

Loving parents of Baby Keaton


RESOURCES: – a faith-based list of resources, books, blog entries and ways to honour your child are available on this site.

Please also contact your local Public Health Unit or hospice for a list of current counselling and support groups as well as print resources.

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