Grief Help: Couple opens grieving room in honor of stillborn daughter Jane

WINNETKA, Ill. — Bob and Berkley Wellstein were thrilled to be expecting their first child. The baby’s room was ready. They had the crib and the clothes.

And then, one day in the 32nd week of an easy pregnancy, Berkley noticed that her baby hadn’t been moving. She tried lying on her side. She had some sugar. Then she went to the hospital for an innocent-sounding “reassurance check,” only to learn that medical staff could not detect a heartbeat. The Wellsteins’ daughter, Jane, had died in utero in a rare accident in which the umbilical cord becomes wrapped tightly around the baby’s neck.

“It was just complete destruction. It was devastation,” Bob Wellstein said of the loss seven years ago.

But even as the Wellsteins left the hospital with Jane’s footprints and a snip of her bright blond hair, the Winnetka couple knew that their little girl’s story wasn’t over. They wanted to do something to honor her and to help other parents who experience similar losses, including miscarriages and newborn deaths. Within a year of Jane’s death in January 2012, they’d opened the first Jane’s Room — a comfortable, homelike space for grieving parents and family members — at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. On Thursday, Jan. 17, the newest Chicago-area Jane’s Room was unveiled at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

Grief Help: When a baby dies, Faith and Medicine aim for Compassion

Grieving a miscarriage or stillbirth can be heart-wrenching. As awareness of that difficulty grows, medical professionals and clergy strive to offer meaningful ways to help parents mourn.

Frequently periods of mourning after a stillbirth or miscarriage are quiet, and perhaps too quick. Now, new medical devices allow parents of stillborn babies to spend more time with a stillborn baby’s earthly remains, possibly giving new ways to aid grieving families.

“To God, no life is lost, no life is insignificant,” Fr. Christopher Zelonis, a priest of the Diocese of Allentown in Virginia, told CNA. “Parents who have suffered miscarriages are parents and have every right and, we would say, need, to regard themselves as such.”

“The community around them, in doing the same, would create greater reverence and respect for the life that those parents have carried. Certainly, no parent wants to bury a child or wants to grieve that loss,” said Zelonis.

The priest spoke about the significance of stillbirths and miscarriages in the life of parents, community, and the Church. He has been a priest for 15 years and a part-time hospital chaplain for the last four years, in addition to his current duties as a parish pastor.

Newly developed cooling cots, also called cold cots, aim to help parents of stillborns. The New York Times profiled an eight-pound device called the CuddleCot, a describing it as a “kind of refrigerated baby bed that helps preserve the body of a deceased newborn for days.”

“The device gives parents a chance to bond with their babies — to love and hold them, take pictures, even take them home and take them for walks, creating memories to last a lifetime,” the New York Times personal health columnist Jane E. Brody wrote Jan. 14.

Art Program Helps Grieving Children

RARITAN TWP., NJ – An art program for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one is being sponsored by Hunterdon Hospice.

The Youth Art Bereavement Program is for children ages kindergarten through 12th grade. The 12-week series will be held every Thursday evening beginning Feb. 7 from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at the Senior Center, 4 Gauntt Place, Building 1 (off Route 31 South) here. The fee for the program that runs through May 2 is $75 per family.

The Youth Art Bereavement Program is sensitive to the differences of a child’s response to death and loss. Children use the creative medium of art to explore and express their grief. The program focuses on teaching children healthy coping skills in dealing with their grief. Since art therapy does not necessarily rely on verbal communication, a child who is shy or not able to articulate their feelings can work through their grief by using art.

Children are assigned to groups based on their developmental age. Being with peers who have had similar experiences normalizes the grief process. Through this interaction children learn to empathize with others, which can give them insight into their own pain. Listening and observing other children’s expressions of grief may also help them openly express their …

What God Would Say to the Parents Who Lost Their Kids in the Deadly Florida Crash

This past week I came across a news story that rocked me to the core, like I’m sure it did most people. As a mother, especially, anytime I hear of a young, innocent child passing away, I am devastated. Like most parents, when I am witness to the tragic loss of a child, I take it on myself. I imagine what it would feel like to lose one, or even all of my babies. I feel the anguish, the pain, the grief, but then do you know what I do? I push it away. I shove away such awful, unmentionable thoughts, I draw my own chicks closer into my nest, and I sigh a breath of relief that they are there. That is the honest to God truth of it, and I think anyone who has lost a child deserves that honesty. Because, you see, I cannot empathize their loss. I am so very sorry, and they have my deepest sympathy and most heartfelt prayers, but I have not been where they are. So I won’t claim I have.

When I recently read the article about the death of not one, but five children in a van crash in Florida, I imagined what the parents must be going through…

Creative Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Memory Alive After She Dies

The hardest part of of having a dog is losing them much too soon. Not only is it excruciatingly painful, but it often involves some very, very hard decisions. It can be traumatic and takes a long time to move on.

Our deep bond with our pets has gained recognition over the years as more people see their dogs as family members, and the media has acknowledged how difficult it is to lose a pet: The Washington Post posted an article in 2012 titled: “The Death of a Pet Can Hurt as Much as the Loss of a Relative” and the same year, The New York Times posted the article, “Grieving for Pets and Humans: Is There a Difference?”

Psychology Today ran a 2016 article called, “Why Losing a Pet Hurts So Much.” “From one pet owner to another, we understand the intense pain and emptiness that occurs after this loss. There is no correct way to grieve and work through this process, as everyone walks down a different journey with a pet.”

Related: ‘A Dog Legends Are Made Of’: Owner Writes Touching, Yet Funny Obituary for Her Rescue Dog

It can help with the grieving process to find a way to memorialize your dog. There are many different ways to do this, so you can choose one that feels the most powerful — and natural — way to honor the intense love between you and your dog.

Have a …

“Healing After the Loss of Your Mother: A Grief & Comfort Manual,” A New Step-By-Step Grief Recovery Guidebook

Author Elaine Mallon has released “Healing After the Loss of Your Mother: A Grief & Comfort Manual” ($14.95, paperback, 9781733538909; $9.99, ebook, 9781733538930), a practical, step-by-step guidebook for those mourning the loss of their mother and for supporters hoping to help a loved one through grief. It is a book of comfort, guidance, and hope.

Mallon’s insight into grief comes from the heartbreaking experience of losing her mother suddenly and unexpectedly. Devastated and unprepared for how life-changing and painful processing the loss would be, Mallon found herself wondering: “Where’s the manual?” and “How do I do this?”

“This is the book I desperately needed when my own mom died,” says Mallon. “It is an essential companion for anyone uncertain about what to do or where to turn after their mother’s death.”

Like a compassionate friend, Mallon captures the raw, unique pain of losing your mother with empathy, honesty, and eloquence. She guides the reader through each step of the grieving process, offering straightforward answers to many common questions and tenderly addressing fears faced by those in mourning, as well.

This book also offers direction for those hoping to comfort someone who is grieving, by explaining what a person in grief is going through and how to be most helpful to them.

Family mourns victims in Tarpon Springs triple homicide

TARPON SPRINGS — Mike Ivancic stretched his arms out and, with Radiohead blasting in his ears Saturday, raised his body into downward dog in the very room where his father’s family was found dead just four days earlier.

On New Year’s Day, Tarpon Springs police said his father Richard Ivancic, 71; his stepmother Laura Ivancic, 59; and the couple’s 25-year-old son, Nicholas Ivancic; were found dead in their house alongside their three dogs.

Still missing is 21-year-old Jamie Ivancic. Her husband, Shelby Svenson, 25, was found in Ohio and charged with the three murders.

8 Ways to support a woman after she’s had a miscarriage

Acknowledge they are parents

Even if the miscarried child was their only pregnancy, that couple is still a mother and a father. Schwob says it’s important to “Validate the child as a precious life and acknowledge the mothers and fathers.”

Many mothers who miscarry feel like a failure. They feel guilt, thinking they could have avoided it somehow if only they’d been more aware of what was happening or taken care of their bodies in a different way. Schwob says, “Pregnant women immediately start planning and their nature is to protect that child. It’s a common thought that they have failed to do their job.” The feeling of guilt is common but it doesn’t make it true. Fathers have a hard time, too, because they cannot “fix” the problem. Help families grapple with guilt and understand that they aren’t failures.

Simply because the baby had a shorter life doesn’t mean mom and dad didn’t love their little one with all their heart. The grief process isn’t shorter and there should be no expectations for the couple to get over it, move on, and forget about the miscarriage. We can help by encouraging them to …

Don’t hide your grief from children. Grief can help bring you closer

…but like a great number of mothers (and fathers) after a bereavement, it wasn’t long before I attempted to pull myself together and go back to normal. And although at the heart of this was a desire to protect my daughter from my grief, I ended up distancing myself, creating a strained, unhealthy atmosphere. My understandable worry over the effect on her of what she’d seen made me cautious and reticent. It was as though we were communicating through glass, and the result was that I was no longer present as a mother in the way she needed me to be.

It’s impossible to be the parent you were after someone you love dies, because you aren’t the same person. But how do we explain this to our children? Death is one thing. But revealing your vulnerability too? This can feel irresponsible and unfair…

Dealing with Grief during Christmas & the holidays

Following the loss of someone close leaves a certain trepidation of days to come … birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, will never be the same. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s can be some of the most difficult and challenging times.

Holidays are meant to spend time with those we love the most — sharing love, food, creating memories and laughter. So, how are we “celebrate” when those that we love the most will not be with us? It isn’t easy and for many people, it is the most difficult part of grieving and the time when we miss our loved ones even more.

How do we celebrate being together when there is an empty place at the table? Our sadness seems sadder, our loneliness is unfathomable and you just don’t feel like celebrating. How do we handle it? We face it head on. It is not really the grief we are trying to avoid, it is the pain that comes from it. Remember, grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions…