The death of a baby is overwhelming. Parents lose not only a child, but the future they expected to have together, and all their hopes and dreams. They may feel a range of emotional and physical reactions such as being disorientated, lonely, angry, guilty, and exhausted. Grief can feel like physical pain.
The nnu staff do all they can to help parents at this sad time and provide ongoing support to parents, siblings and grandparents.
To enable families to spend as much time as they would like with their baby after their death, First Touch has equipped the unit with special cots which can be placed in the privacy of a bedroom or the unit’s Quiet Room. This gives families the opportunity to wash, dress, cuddle and read to their baby, as well as to introduce them to family and friends and make important, happy memories.
First Touch also funds memory boxes for all bereaved families. This can be used to collect mementoes – things like bonnets, names tags, blankets and toys. We have also provided cameras and kits so the NNU staff can help parents to take photographs and foot and hand prints of their baby. For some parents this may seem like an incredibly hard thing to do at the time but in the years to come these precious things will give them great comfort.
Each year St George’s holds a neonatal memorial service where families and staff come together to remember all those precious babies who passed away and were not able to join their loving families at home. First Touch is honoured to fund this moving and vital service of remembrance.
The unit counsellors Patricia McGurk and Lesley Glassington can be contacted on direct line 020 8725 4733
The following organisations offer support to families who have suffered bereavement:
- You can often access counseling through your GP, this may be especially helpful if you live a long way away from the neonatal unit.
- Bliss offer six free counselling sessions. Call their Family Support Helpline on 0500 618 140.
- SANDS helpline – 020 7836 5881. It is open Monday to Friday: 9.30am to 5.30pm
Tuesday and Thursday evenings: 6pm to 10pm.
- Child Bereavement UK – Helpline: 0800 02 888 40
- Compassionate Friends
- Online magazines like Still Standing share other bereaved parents’ stories, and it can be reassuring to know you are not alone in what you are feeling.