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Perinatal Bereavement

Perinatal loss refers to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, termination, intrauterine death, stillbirth, or newborn death. In spite of advances in medical science, not all children are born alive. The birth of a baby is usually a joyous occasion. When the outcome of a pregnancy is not the one hoped for, people can feel devastated. 

 
The grief from perinatal loss is unique because parents do not have the same opportunity to make memories with their children who die in this way. Adding to the challenge has been a historical shortage of bereavement resources to assist parents who are grieving the death of a baby.
 
With this in mind, Eastern Health has developed a series of videos with Newfoundland and Labrador parents who have experienced the loss of a baby. We have done so in an effort to provide information, support and encouragement to parents and their families who find themselves in this situation.
 
Navigating Perinatal Bereavement (Video Series) 
 
Navigating Perinatal Bereavement is a new resource designed to provide quality bereavement and support services to women, couples and their families - regardless of geographic location, availability of suitable counsellors, or time of day. It will enhance the outpatient grief counselling services provided by Children and Women’s Health, Bereavement Services, and Pastoral Care and Ethics.
 
We invite you to watch the following short informational videos:
 
One Step at a Time:

 
In this video, a couple discusses the various coping mechanisms they found helpful when their daughter was stillborn. They mention helpful things family and friends can say or do, discuss how they felt when they decided to try for another child, and affirm that there is indeed light at what can seem like a dark tunnel.
 
Impact of Loss:
 
 
In this video, a mother and her young daughter talk about how they honour the memory of their baby. The mom also talks about how strange it felt to deal with the shock of what happened, what worked for her, and how she dealt with any regrets.
 
Couple’s Journey:
 
 
 
In this video, parents Lisa and Darcy highlight how everyone, including mothers and fathers, will grieve differently, the importance of listening and supporting one another, making memories in the midst of loss, and how to find the courage to move forward.
 
These web-based videos are designed to help people at their own time and convenience. 
 
They are also available to people who live in areas that may not have access to grief counsellors or to others who have experienced this type of bereavement. As they adjust to life without their baby, these videos will help parents and families connect with others who have gone through perinatal loss and learn what they found useful as they journeyed through grief. 
 
 
Other Perinatal Bereavement Services:
 
Walk to Remember
 
Each year in October, parents and families who have experienced perinatal loss gather on a designated Sunday afternoon in Bowring Park for a commemorative tree planting ceremony. This is a family-friendly event which includes a walk through a specific area of the park followed by a time to interact with other participants; an afternoon set aside for parents to offer special acknowledgement of their baby who died. The Walk to Remember is not a fundraiser; however, it is supported by the Janeway Children’s Foundation
 
 
Baby Burial and Committal of Ashes
 
Some parents choose to make funeral arrangements for their babies themselves by either contacting a representative of their faith community or by calling a funeral home. However, sometimes the mother is not physically or emotionally able to make arrangements for her child within the standard time period. If mothers and/or families do not wish to personally arrange a funeral, the baby’s remains will be kept in a secure place at the hospital. Once a year, the remains are collected by a local funeral home for cremation. Parents are then invited to an interfaith burial service, usually scheduled for late spring. Eastern Health’s Pastoral Care and Ethics Department and its partners have established a baby monument in a St. John’s cemetery.
 
 
Grief Counselling
 
Outpatient grief counselling is also available to individuals or couples – and provided by Pastoral Care and Bereavement services. Counselling may also be available through a psychologist working with Children’s and Women’s Health.
 
 
Contact Information: 
 
Director, Pastoral Care and Ethics, Jacintha Penney
Phone: 709-777-6959 
For:
  • Outpatient grief counselling
  • Walk to Remember
  • Baby Burial and Committal of Ashes
  • Facilitates connections among couples who have experienced perinatal loss
 
Regional Coordinator, Bereavement Services, Dr. Peter Barnes
Phone: 709-777-2167
For:
  • Bereavement Information Seminars
  • Counselling
  • Liaisons with other services
 
Women’s Health Psychologist, Dr. Sarah MacAuley
Phone: 709-777-4597
For:
  • Perinatal Bereavement Counselling

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Updated Mar 9, 2017