Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Creating Memories of a Dying Baby For Parents Through Photography

The images serve as touchstones for feelings and memories pertaining to deep significant relationships and spiritual connections some of which may flourish in the intimacy of the last days or months of life.

Todd Hochberg

Bereavement Photography

To those unfamiliar with the topic, Bereavement Photography may seem a bit unusual to say the least.

For the parents who have been the recipients of the photographic memories captured by volunteer photographers, bereavement photography is a priceless gift, documenting the often all to brief life of their baby.

The Healing Benefits of Bereavement Photography

There is a strong healing aspect to bereavement photograph. Todd Hochberg of Touching Souls shares how photographs help parents with their grieving process in an article originally published in Share.

Photographs help NICU parents by:

  1. Making their baby's life and death real for the parents. Making the life real is a significant issue with brief perinatal lives.
  2. Validating the parents feelings, both at the time of their baby's death and up to the present.
  3. Being an affirmation of parenthood, a reminder that there was a child that they were a parent to.
  4. Providing a tangible record of their time with their baby. The photographs often include cherished close up details of their baby's physical features and evidence of loving familial bonds.
  5. Allowing them to connect with the many feelings and memories that may have gotten lost in the torrent of overwhelming grief at the time or in the weeks since.
Todd feels that offering parents an illustrated narrative of "their story" for themselves and the loved ones they choose to share it with, helps to fostering greater social support and connection, which also aids in the grieving process.

Photographers Offering Bereavement Photography Services

Touching Souls - Healing with Bereavement Photography
Photographer Todd Hochberg of Touching Souls has supported parents experiencing perinatal loss, as they say goodbye to their babies, since 1997. The photographs of babies with their grieving parents are available as valuable emotional mementos for families in Chicago.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS)

Now I lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) is a non-profit organization devoted to offering gentle and beautiful photography and videography services. Their services are available to all parents experiencing the death of a baby. There are no fees for creating these photographic memories.

I Say My Prayers
I Say My Prayers involves taking pictures of terminally ill children, individually and/or with their families. The child may be a newborn who will never leave the hospital or it may be a teenager. I will capture the "spirit" and the "life" of the child for the families to hold on to forever. The sitting and the pictures are donated by me to the families.

Bereavement Photography helps to ease the parents grief by creating memories that will last a lifetime for these grieving parents. The photographs help them to hold on to memories and document the life of their baby.

Dyer K. 2007-8. Bereavement Photography
. Squidoo.com
Hochberg T. In Your Eyes; The Caregiver and Bereavement Photography. Share. 2003.

Image: Nic Luc. Old Photo Lens. Royalty Free Use.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to Comfort a Grieving NICU Parent

Following the hospitalization of a newborn in the NICU, Family and Friends of the NICU Parents may themselves be feeling some grief over the situation and feel helpless and unsure what they can do.

They may want nothing more than to find a way to wrap the NICU parent in a blanket to comfort them, much like Linus with his security blanket.

Even though family and friends may not feel that they know what to do, what to say or how to offer comfort, grieving parent(s) need to know that their family and friends are there to support them.

Perhaps the most important thing for friends and family to do is to let the grieving NICU parents know that you are thinking of them and are supporting them during the challenging time.

Ways to Comfort a Grieving NICU Parent

To show your support and comfort a grieving NICU parent take a look at the different suggested phrases. Choose one of the suggestions or modify a phrase so it feels more like something you would say (or write) yourself.

Suggested for Phrases to Use

Some of my personal favorites:

  • I am sorry for your loss.
  • I wish you didn't have to experience this.
  • I am sorry that this happened to you.
  • I am thinking of you during this difficult time. (usually written)
Some additional phrases that could also work:
  • I'm so sorry.
  • I wish you comfort.
  • I hope things will be good.
  • I wish this hadn't happened to you.
Health care providers may be at a loss to find the right words that can bring comfort to a NICU parent. The following are suggestions from a paper that I wrote which can be to use by NICU Providers when talking with a grieving person or parent.
  • I'm sad for you.
  • I don't know why it happened.
  • What can I do for you?
  • How are you doing/coping with all of this?
  • How can I help?

When picking something to say use the phrase that resonates the most with you, then let the parent(s) know either verbally or in a written message that you are there for them during this challenging time.

What Brought You Comfort?

Most NICU parents can remember the awful things that people say to them. These leave indelible etchings in our memories.

I would like to encourage visitors to comment on the things people said or the phrases have helped you during your time of loss.

Note: This is a modified version of the article Tips on Offering Comfort to a Grieving NICU Parent published on the Type-A Mom Site in February 2008.


Dyer KA. What You Can Say or Do for a NICU Parent. January 2008. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. What can I *say* when a NICU baby dies? June 2006. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. Identifying, Understanding, and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU, Part II: Strategies. Neonatal Network. June/July 2005; 24: 27-40.

<>Dyer KA. 2006. My NICU Baby's Died: Now What? on Squidoo.com
Dyer KA. 2007. How to Write a Condolence Note. on Squidoo.com

Image: Benjamin Earwicker. Cozy. Royalty Free Use.