Tending our broken hearts
Tending our broken hearts

The loss of a baby is one of the hardest things a family can experience. When we are broken-hearted following a death it can be hard to see how life can go on. It can feel difficult to reach out for support. When a loved one dies, our day to day life can feel very overwhelming. Your usual routine has changed, your ordinary thoughts are different, your emotions are like a roller coaster, and your relationships with others can be altered.

People grieve and cope differently. It depends on factors like individual history with death, cultural practices, religious beliefs, personal resilience, how life is lived in general, whether the environment is positive or negative, use of rituals, and drawing on support systems. Different members of a family will often cope with their loss in completely different ways.

Many say the ‘stages of grief’ include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some experience all of these. Others experience a few. Some experience emotional detours. Others experience recurring setbacks. It is important to remember that there is no one way to grieve. The experience of grief can seem fluid like waves that ebb and flow. There can also be an artificial timetable set by others associated with how long bereavement should last. No timetable should be connected to grief and mourning.

Val Lee, a bereaved mother, describes the loss of her baby and one of those unexpected decisions she made afterwards:

“Our son, Ashton, was born at 29 weeks with several complications. While being amazed by our little fighter in the NICU, I was fortunate to pump and freeze every drop of milk. The NICU staff explained breast milk was medicine that no synthetic drug could ever replace. We were hopeful for the day Ashton would be stable enough to have breast milk for food; however, he only received two teaspoons before he became our Angel Baby. Donating my breast milk has been a bright, positive light in our bereavement journey knowing other NICU families may spend an extra hour, day or lifetime with their baby.”

Feelings regarding lactation after a loss vary from mother to mother. Some feel that the milk they produce was meant only for their baby, or that thinking about pumping is just too much when they are already going through so much. Others, like Val, want to donate to a milk bank. There is no right or wrong decision.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you want to talk through your decision or need further support. We are here for you.

A place for grief

The Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank sees the need to help women and families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. A bereavement support group for adults, called Lost & Found, is a family driven group that provides a neutral place to feel and share. Please join us for to connect with others who are grieving, so together we can honor your babies and perhaps ease your sorrow.

We’ve also put together a helpful booklet for bereaved families. And, an extensive resource list, lending library, and Angel Baby Journal are available at the milk bank. We honor the babies whose milk was donated with a garden memory wall.

Contact: Jan Mallak, AdvCD-BDT(DONA) at jan@heartandhandsdoula.com or 412-973-3521 (call or text)

Additional Grief Resources and Support Groups

Aching Arms

Aching Arms is a parent led support group for families who have lost a child. We support each other through sharing our stories, our struggles, and our strategies for coping with such an overwhelming loss. We are able to help and support each other through our monthly meetings or through email.

Location: The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center, 5324 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Contact: Sarah Runco at achingarms@gmail.com


Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Bereaved Parents’ Support Group

Hosted by the Supportive Care Department of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, this is a group for bereaved families who have been part of the hospital.

Location: The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center, 5324 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Contact: Lori Malazich, Bereavement Coordinator Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC at lori.malazich@chp.edu or 412-692-3585


Healing Hearts Infant Bereavement Resources

Through support and other resource materials, the Healing Hearts Infant Bereavement Resources program, an initiative of Cribs for Kids®, assists families who have been touched by a crisis in pregnancy or the death of a baby.

Location: Cribs for Kids, 5450 Second Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15207

Contact: Andrea Wilson, MSW, Support and Education Coordinator at awilson@cribsforkids.org or 412-322-5680 ext. 4


Highmark Caring Place – A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and their Families

The Highmark Caring Place – A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, is a safe place where grieving children and families can come together and be with others who understand what they’re going through.

Location: Pittsburgh: 620 Stanwix Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Cranberry: 200 Warrendale Village Drive, Warrendale, PA 15086
Erie: Bayview Office Park, Building 2, 510 Cranberry Street, Erie, PA 16507
Harrisburg: 3 Walnut Street, Suite 200, Lemoyne, PA 17043

Contact: Pittsburgh: 888-224-4673
Warrendale/Cranberry: 888-734-4073
Erie: 866-212-4673
Harrisburg: 866-613-4673


Hugs for Healing Hearts

Pregnancy loss support group and subsequent pregnancy loss group

The pregnancy loss support group is for women and their families who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death. The group is facilitated by St. Clair Hospital staff, with support from parents who have experienced their own losses.

Location: Medical Library, St Clair Hospital, Fourth Floor, 1000 Bower Hill Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15243

Contact: 412-942-5877


Northern VA L.A.M.P.S

Have you experienced Miscarriage? A Medical Termination? Stillbirth? Infant Loss? SIDS? If so, we are here to listen and help you navigate your new normal. No matter the circumstances.

Location: St. John’s Lutheran Church, 311 Cumberland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Contact: Pittsburgh.LAMPS@gmail.com


Pregnancy Loss Support: Sts. John and Paul Catholic Church

Come join women who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage. Through community and friendship, we can navigate the grieving process and grow with the Lord.

Location: 2586 Wexford Bayne Road, Sewickley, PA 15143

Contact: Judy Kristan at 724-272-0331


Heart of Central PA Grief and Loss Support Program

HEART (Helping Empty Arms Recover Together) of Central PA is an organization that provides support for individuals who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth, infant death, and/or fertility issues.

Location: CHOICES, 2214 N. Atherton Street, Upper Level, State College, PA 16801

Contact: info@heartofpa.org


Helping Grieving Hearts Heal Mondays Moments Luncheons

Helping Grieving Hearts Heal was designed to provide services that support individuals as they grieve. In conjunction with Koch Funeral Home, this program is offered by Jackie Hook, M.A., a certified spiritual director and Life-Cycle Celebrant.

Location: Courtyard by Marriott, 173 University Drive, State College, PA 16801

Contact: Jackie@JackieHook.com


Sweet Grace Ministries Support Groups

Sweet Grace Ministries seeks to provide support, hope, and empathy to families enduring ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. We provide support in the form of gowns, photography, support groups, baskets, and comfort bags in the hospitals we partner with, and more.

Location: Chambersburg: 77 Horst Avenue, Chambersburg, PA 17201
Harrisburg: Devonshire Memorial Brethren In Christ Church, 5630 Devonshire Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112
Schuylkill: Lykens Valley Bible Church, 727 Main Street, Lykens, PA 17048
York: Pathway Community Church, 1731 W. Philadelphia Street, York 17404

Contact: sweetgraceministries@gmail.com


The Still Remembered Project’s Still Supported

Still Supported is a pregnancy/infant loss peer based support group that gives bereaved mothers a place to share and connect with others who are on a similar grief journey. We strive to educate women on grief and how grieving can be an emotional and physical process. Through group discussion, we are able to talk and explore our feelings, struggles, and challenges of being in a “new normal” world after the loss of our babies.

Location: Location can change month to month, however we usually meet in the private room at the Panera Bread restaurant in the Galleria Mall, 1500 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Contact: stillsupported@stillremembered.org


Share of Lancaster

Early/late loss support group and pregnancy after loss support group

For all family members experiencing an early pregnancy loss. And for those experiencing late pregnancy/early infant loss through stillbirth, premature or full-term infant death, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Location: Lancaster General Health Campus, 2100 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, PA 17601

Contact: shareoflancservices@gmail.com


Healing Hearts Support Group

Healing Hearts offers hope, encouragement, and support to those who have endured a miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death and those who seek to support them.

Location: Country Meadows of Leader Heights, 2760 Pine Grove Road, York, PA 17403

Contact: Melissa Robertson at healingheartsyork@gmail.com or 717-578-0263


Angel Talk Support Group

Angel Talk offers child loss support group meetings to families in West Virginia. Child loss includes miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal or infant death, as well as the loss of a child at any age. We welcome anyone affected by child loss, from parents to siblings to grandparents and friends. Children are welcome at our meetings. Though this may seem counterproductive, it is important that children affected by child loss also have a place to grieve and to witness how healthy grieving occurs. We are Christian-based and believe that faith in God is part of healthy grieving.

Location: Lewisburg, WV – please contact for more details.

Contact: Jenifer Richmond at jsmith0106@hotmail.com or 304-716-6681

Individual support contacts who specialize in pregnancy and infant loss

Judith Gusky Counseling Services
e: judithgusky@gmail.com
w: pimhservices.com

Jodie Hnatkovich
e: jodie@forwardwellnesscounseling.com
p: 412-660-6100
w: forwardwellnesscounseling.com

Amy Lewis
e: amy@socialemotionalchange.com
p: 412-532-6622
w: socialemotionalchange.com
a: 100 Station Square Drive, Suite 205
Pittsburgh PA 15219

Lara Solensky
e: larasolenskylpc@gmail.com
p: 814-207-7330

Miscellaneous support information

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Free remembrance photography services to provide families with keepsake photos of your child(ren).

Schellhaas Funeral Home
Free cremation for deceased infants.
p: 724-934-3000


NICU Helping Hands

Free ‘Angel’ gowns for families of babies who have passed in the hospital.
p: 817-584-1437


Molly’s Bears

Makes weighted teddy bears specific to the weight of babies who have passed for families who have experienced infant loss. There is a fee associated with this service.


Stillbirthday

Website for locating bereavement doulas and bereavement resources. Support for birth prior to, during, and after birth in any trimester. Resources include birth plans, information on what to expect, and ways to connect to both local and online support.


Oli’s Angels

Birth and bereavement doulas provide free bereavement doula services to mothers experiencing loss in any trimester; support before, during and after birth.
p: 412-616-9579
e: bmrawls@olisangels.com


MISS Foundation HOPE Mentor Program

The MISS Foundation provides a service where bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings can be matched with a trained HOPE mentor—who is also a bereaved parent, grandparent, and sibling—who will either connect via email, phone, or Skype if not local to you or in-person, if possible.


Grieve Out Loud Pen-Pal Program

Links bereaved mothers, fathers, or grandparents to fellow baby or pregnancy loss mothers, fathers, or grandparents. The intent is to give you a one-on-one resource to talk openly about yourself, your pregnancy, delivery, your child, and everything you are feeling with someone who has also suffered pregnancy and/or infant loss.


COPE Hotline

A resource for individuals grieving the loss of a child at any age with an immediate need for support. Manned by trained COPE Line volunteers, who can provide resources, referrals, information, and emotional support.
p: 516-364-2673


The Natural Funeral Company

Works with families to create celebrations of life outside of a funeral home.
Kristin Hauman
p: 412-716-4435
e: naturalfuneralcompany@gmail.com

Helps with creating celebration services and remembrance rituals.
Karen Bernard
p: 412-482-7524