bereaved families

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. The group meets the fourth Thursday evening of every month from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Please consider joining us for light refreshments and an opportunity to connect with others who are grieving, so together we can honor your children and perhaps ease your sorrow.

More resources

We’ve put together a helpful booklet for bereaved families; download it here (pdf 1MB).

An extensive resource list, lending library and Angel Baby Journal are also available at the Milk Bank as well as a garden memory wall honoring the babies whose milk was donated.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL.
Lost & Found

Meetings: 4th Thursday of every month from 7:00pm-8:30pm

When a child has been LOST, support can be FOUND at the Milk Bank. It is a small family oriented group that provides a neutral place to share if you have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Our goal is to validate, affirm and listen with open minds and hearts. The remembrance gathering is lead by a birth professional, and a therapy dog will also be in attendance for some special kind of support.

Contact: For more information or if you would like to attend, please contact Jan Mallak, AdvCD-BDT(DONA) at 412-973-3521 (call or text) or email Jan at jan@heartandhandsdoula.com


Aching Arms

Meetings: 3rd Tuesday of every month 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Aching Arms is a parent led support group for families who have lost a child and has been helping families in the Pittsburgh area for five years. 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 Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Contact: Sarah Runco achingarms@gmail.com


Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Bereaved Parents’ Support Group

Meetings: 2nd Wednesday of every month from 7:00pm-8:30pm

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

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

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


Healing Hearts Infant Bereavement Resources

Meetings: 1st Tuesday of each month from 7:00pm-9:00pm

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, 412-322-5680 Ext. 4 or awilson@cribsforkids.org


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

Meetings: Contact your preferred region for details

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

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


Hugs for Healing Hearts (Pregnancy Loss Support Group)

Meetings: 2nd Monday of each month, 7:00pm-8:30pm

HUGS for Healing Hearts is a pregnancy loss support group 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: For information and to register, please call 412-942-5877


Hugs for Healing Hearts (Subsequent Pregnancy Support Group)

Meetings: 2nd Monday of each month, 5:30pm-6:30pm

Support group for subsequent pregnancy loss.

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

Contact: For information and to register, please call 412-942-5877


M.I.S.S. Foundation

Meetings: 1st Tuesday of every month 7:30pm-9:00pm

Mothers in Sympathy and Support (M.I.S.S.) Foundation is for families grieving the loss of a child, including, but not limited to: infant/young child death, pregnancy loss, SIDS, Stillbirth, Prematurity, Medical termination

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

Contact: Please contact lead group facilitator if you are interested in attending: laurie.jackson@missfoundation.org


Pregnancy Loss Support: Sts. John and Paul Catholic Church

Meetings: 1st Thursday of every month from 7:00pm-8:00pm

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: Conference room in the lower level of the church. 2586 Wexford Bayne Road, Sewickley, PA 15143

Contact: Judy Kristan, 724-272-0331


Heart of Central PA Grief and Loss Support Program

Meetings: Held twice each year, please see website for more information

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: For more information and to register, contact info@heartofpa.org


Heart of Central PA Fertility issues and Loss Support Group

Meetings: 2nd Wednesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m.

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: For more information and to register, contact info@heartofpa.org


Helping Grieving Hearts Heal Mondays Moments Luncheons

Meetings: Held once each month on a Monday, 12 to 1:30 p.m.

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: For more information and to register, contact Jackie@JackieHook.com


Sweet Grace Ministries Support Groups

Meetings: Chambersburg Location: 2nd Thursday of the month at 6 pm

Harrisburg Location: 2nd Monday of the month at 6 pm
Schuylkill Location: 1st Tuesday of the month at 6 pm
York Location: 1st Thursday of the month at 6 pm

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 Location: 77 Horst Avenue (main entrance on Edgar Avenue), Chambersburg, PA 17201
Harrisburg Location: Lower level of Devonshire Memorial Brethren In Christ Church, 5630 Devonshire Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112
Schuylkill Location: Lower level of Lykens Valley Bible Church, 727 Main Street, Lykens, PA 17048
York Location: Coffee house of Pathway Community Church, 1731 W. Philadelphia Street, York 17404

Contact: For more information, please contact sweetgraceministries@gmail.com


The Still Remembered Project’s Still Supported

Meetings: 2nd Thursday of the month 7:00-9:00 pm

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: South Hills of Pittsburgh – location can change month to month, however we usually meet in the private room at the Panera restaurant in the Galleria Mall 1500 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Contact: Kindly email stillsupported@stillremembered.org for more information and to register prior to the meeting.


Share of Lancaster (Early/Late Loss Support Group)

Meetings: 1st Tuesday of the month 6:30-8:00 pm

For those experiencing an early pregnancy loss through miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. And for those experiencing late pregnancy/early infant loss through stillbirth, premature or full-term infant death, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Open to mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and any bereaved family member. Individuals are free to attend one or as many meetings as they desire

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

Contact: For more information, please contact shareoflancservices@gmail.com


Share Of Lancaster (Pregnancy After Loss Support Group)

Meetings: 3rd Tuesday of the month 6:30-8:00 pm

For families experiencing pregnancy following the loss of a baby. Individuals are free to attend one or as many meetings as they desire

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

Contact: For more information, please contact shareoflancservices@gmail.com


HEALING HEARTS SUPPORT GROUP

Meetings: 3rd Thursday of each month from 7-8:30 pm

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. Healing Hearts runs a support group that meets monthly for parents who have endured miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death.

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

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


ANGEL TALK SUPPORT GROUP

Meetings: Quarterly meetings, contact for details

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, 304-716-6681 or jsmith0106@hotmail.com

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: 1-817-584-1437

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 Doula:  provides 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. Available Monday-Friday, 9 am-9 pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 10 am-3 pm.
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

Help Creating Celebration Services and Remembrance Rituals
Karen Bernard
p: 412-482-7524