What is a bereavement doula? This is a person who provides support to a family experiencing a pregnancy loss. For me, most recently, a bereavement doula is someone who provides emotional support and resources to a family that the hospital could not provide. I had the unfortunate experience of assisting a family through a loss recently and while it was unfortunate, it was such a blessing for me to be so involved.
I cannot provide much information because I want to preserve this patient’s privacy; although you need to know some details in order to understand the complexity of this case. This family was pregnant and the mother died but was revived. During that process, her baby died.
I wrote in my book that hospitals are poor at providing support for miscarriage and infant loss. This is often an overlooked issue, especially the emotional aspect. While I was minimally involved in this case, I was asked by the family to talk with the loss mother after I presented the family with some resources and a copy of my book.
I felt a bit uncomfortable talking with the loss mom because I didn’t think I was qualified but after thinking about it, who WAS qualified? Certainly not the nurse, unless she had been through a loss and was willing to get that personal with her patient. Most don’t and won’t. We are often too scared to reveal that much about ourselves in our work. I HAD to. I had been telling the family that I was sorry for their loss from the moment I learned about it and had also shared with them that I had lost my own baby. I was certainly qualified and I was only fulfilling a request the family had.
I asked the loss mother if she was okay with me talking with her and she said she was. So, I sat down with her as she sobbed over the loss of her son. I revealed everything that I felt while I was in the hospital after my loss. I felt her pain and suffered with her. I cried with her and just sat there with her. She wouldn’t look at me in the beginning but after a while, she began looking at me and talking. That really helped me feel like I was making a connection. I wanted to take all her suffering away. We both knew that wasn’t possible but if I could have, I would have.
I cringed every time a hospital member called her son a fetus or it. Rarely was her son referred to as a baby. One member even told me that her son was a fetus because he was so early. She couldn’t refer to him as a baby. I felt horrible over the lack of training the staff had. If they had some training, they would have been better at this. The mother wanted her son in the room with her and the hospital complied. I was surprised they even offered but so happy they did since the loss mother really needed that.
I have been tossing around the idea of becoming a certified bereavement doula. I still don’t know if emotionally I could handle this but this is the second situation I have been in where I was there to help a family through the early stages of their loss. I enjoyed it despite the difficult situation. I want to help families understand their options. I want families to have someone to turn to that understands and can provide them emotional support during their loss. The only bereavement doula training I know about is the program Heidi Faith has with Stillbirthday.com. Heidi Faith has been a strong supporter of my book. I think it’s time I take this step. It’s time to become a Stillbirthday Bereavement Doula. Will you support me on this journey?