May 30, 2008
Supporting bereaved families

The death of a child is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can face. A new effort underway at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) is helping to bring comfort and support to families experiencing such a loss. Led by Rev. Ann Haywood-Baxter, MDiv, pediatric chaplain at the MGHfC, staff have been creating comfort baskets for bereaved families of MGHfC patients. Modeled after a similar effort in the MGHfC's Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit, the baskets are personalized to reflect the individual family members and include items for both parents and siblings. A typical basket includes a letter from the child's primary care team, books and journals for siblings and parents, photo albums and frames, flower seeds, a CD of comfort basketssoothing music, teas, cookies and memory stones. An advisory group comprising nurses, physicians, a parent, nurse practitioners, social workers, child life specialists and an operations coordinator helps guide the program, which is funded by a $6,000 grant from the Wilbert Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children cope with grief and death.

COMFORT BASKETS: from left, Melissa Catone, RN; Ashley Reardon, child life specialist; Sacha Field, child life specialist; Julie Rossborough, PICU operations coordinator; and Haywood-Baxter

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