Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NICU Newborn and NICU Parent Candle Lighting and Blessing

Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.


One of the most powerful healing images is that of a single candle illuminating the night, one tiny flame serving as a bright light in the darkness.

The Candle lighting blessing for NICU babies was modified from the healing blessing that we used for my daughter's NICU adventure. The Candle Lighting Blessing for NICU Parents was adapted from a New Year's Blessing that I wrote many years ago for my girlfriends.

A Candle Lighting Blessing for NICU Newborns
I light this candle for my baby
so that he/she might see
a light illuminating the darkness.

I light this candle for my baby
so that he/she might know
the many people who love him/her.

I light this candle for my baby
so that he/she might sense
the many thoughts and prayers.

I light this candle for my baby
so that he/she might feel
a healing presence.

I light this candle for my baby
so that he/she might discover
his/her own strength.

I light this candle for my baby
so that he/she might find

a cocoon of comfort until your body heals.

A Candle Lighting Blessing for NICU Parents
I light this candle for illumination
so that I might
find my way through the darkness.

I light this candle for hope
so that the
present moment
is less difficult to bear.

I light this candle for strength
so that I can make it though
the life challenge.

I light this candle for understanding
so that I find the insights
to make wise decisions.

I light this candle for courage
so that I may be able to
accept whatever is beyond my control.

© 2009 Kirsti A. Dyer

More about Lighting a Candle

Dyer K. 2009. Light a Candle for Hope or in Memory Online. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer K. 2008.
Create a Candle Lighting Ceremony: Candles Can Help to Focus, Reduce Stress or Remember a Loved. Suite 101.
Dyer K. 2000. Light a Candle for Hope in the New Year. Journey of Hearts.

Mario Trejo. Light of Hope. Royalty Free Use.
Dani Simmonds. Candle. Royalty Free Use.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Grieving for Babies - Grieving for NICU Babies

Grieving for Babies is an online web resource that provides guidance for grieving families and NICU providers.

Developed and produced by
by DIA Productions in collaboration with SHARE Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Stepstone Productions, Grieving for Babies offers resources for parents and professionals.

Programs from Grieving for Babies
Grieving in the NICU: Mending Broken Hearts When a Baby Dies - For Families This program is directed towards the needs of grieving family members. The DVD includes a 70-minute chaptered video addressing topics of the initial shock and intense grief, carrying on with life, the grief of siblings and grandparents, and the role of chaplains throughout the bereavement process.

Grieving in the NICU: Supporting Families and the Health Team When a Baby Dies - For Providers
This program is designed to help health care professionals play an integral part in the lives of parents faced with the death of a baby.

I am signed up to take the Grieving in the NICU Supporting Families and the Health Team for continuing education units. I will keep you posted as to the results of taking the course.

For More on Grieving for Babies see their website.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Encouraging Message: Picking Up the Pieces

Many NICU Parents experience broken dreams as part of the birth of their baby. Their initial dreams of a normal birth with a healthy child have been changed and NICU parents have to quickly adjust their reality to include having a child in the NICU.

This quote by artist and writer Flavia is a helpful encouraging message to NICU Parents to pick up the pieces:
If one dream should fall and
break into a thousand pieces,

never be afraid
to pick one of those pieces up

and begin again.

You can hear more about picking up the pieces by listen to the NICU Podcast or read the transcript that I created on "Dreaming New Dreams after Picking up the Pieces of Broken Dreams" at the NICU Parent Support Audio & Podcast Channel.

Image: Scott Snyder. Stained Glass. Royalty Free Use.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Supporting Parents and Relatives In Neonatal Grief (S.P.R.I.N.G.)

S.P.R.I.N.G. (Supporting Parents and Relatives In Neonatal Grief) is an organization in the U.K. that provides many unique resources and local opportunities for parents experiencing neonatal grief.

Supporting Parents and Relatives In Neonatal Grief was established to provide support to parents and relatives who have experienced the death of a baby during pregnancy, at, or just after birth. This includes miscarriage, stillbirth and termination for foetal abnormality.

S.P.R.I.N.G. is run by a unique combination of bereaved parents, relatives and caring professionals from the Poole Maternity Unit in Poole, Dorset in the U.K.

Their aim is to befriend and support through grief. This is achieved by offering counseling, befriending and monthly support meetings.

Little Angels - Knitting for the Poole Maternity
Supporting Parents and Relatives In Neonatal Grief also encourages knitters to kit and donate baby clothes and teddies for their fundraisers.

On their website they have two knitting patterns on the site, one for this cute teddy bear and another one for booties and hat.

Knitting Angels is a great idea for other NICU's and NICU families to adopt in the United States and other countries.

More Knitting Projects
If you are interested in sharing your knitting or crocheting talents with NICU newborns, contact your local NICU and see if there is an organized program there.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Calvin's Hats - From One Angel to Another

A message tonight in my email box touched my heart and lead to the creation of a new lens on Squidoo. I had just recently updated the Bereavement Photography lens, so I have been writing about resources for parents coping with the death of a child.

This lens is dedicated to the loving, healing project that is Calvin's Hats, a volunteer project hand-knitting tiny hats for babies who are born to early to survive.

Healing from Loss
Calvin's Hats was created in loving memory of Calvin John by his parents Jenna and John to help bring grieving parents a small amount of healing, comfort, and peace during their time of tremendous loss.

Jenna and John share some of the reasons for creating Calvin's Hats on their website:
We are offering to grieving parents a gift which can bring a small amount of comfort and peace... a hat tiny enough to fit right on their precious child's head and something to hold on to when their child is no longer here.

Our wish is for these hats to bring a small amount of healing.

Annie, their volunteer coordinator, wanted to know if I might "be able to help pass it on to those who might find it helpful. Our goal is simply to bless families and we'll do whatever it takes to get the word out there so we can make that happen."

Thus was born the Calvin's Hats Squidoo lens and this blog post.

I hope both help to get the word out to those knitters and volunteers who may be moved to donate their time, their skills and their resources to help in creating these healing hats.

I also hope posting about it helps parents grieving the loss of their newborn to find out about this healing resource and experience a small amount of comfort knowing the gift given was inspired by parents who had also experience the loss of a newborn.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Benefits of Keeping a NICU Journal or NICU Diary

Oprah said many years ago about keeping a journal that:

Journaling is someone to talk to

when there is no one to talk to.

There are many benefits for NICU Parents to keeping an account of their time in the NICU as a Journal or a daily diary.

NICU Staff, Nurses and Social Workers may encourage parents to keep a daily account of their NICU adventures as a way of coping with the NICU.

Keeping a NICU Journal allows parents to monitor the changes that are occurring with their NICU newborn which may be easier to see when reviewed over time.

To paraphrase a quote by musician John Mayall,
Journals are markers to whatever is going on in your life, at a particular moment.
They are the memories and recollections...and the stories that were going on at the time.

What to Include in a NICU Journal
There are several different NICU Journals that have been created for NICU Parents either to purchase or to download for free.

Things to include in a NICU Journal information about your baby's.

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Types of Monitors, IV's, Lines
  • Breathing Help
  • Method of feeding
  • Medications
  • Tests and Procedures
  • Ways of Interacting
  • Nurses and NICU Staff
  • Visitors
  • Questions to Ask
  • Other Thoughts and Feelings
Initially it may be enough to just be including the medical information that you can understand and the questions that you might want to ask. In time, you might include how you are feeling and what you are thinking about the NICU experience.

Benefits of Keeping a NICU Journal
The benefits of keeping a journal also apply to keeping a NICU Journal.
  • Journaling can be an effective way for the journal writer to process stressful, traumatic or life-changing events.
  • Keeping a journal can have a positive impact the journal writer.
  • Journaling serves as a catalyst for self-discovery and self-reflection.
  • Journal writing can also lessen symptoms and improve physical and mental health.
Other benefits found in Telling the Story also apply to NICU Parents journaling their NICU Experience and Telling their NICU story:
  1. Writing our stories can help in explaining the world and making sense of the insensible.
  2. Storytelling has been used for centuries as a beneficial way for grieving people to cope with loss.
  3. For many patients and parents telling their story is what helps them to cope with or heal from their disease or situation.
  4. Writing the story about one’s life experiences helps improve a person's physical and mental health.
  5. Grieving NICU parents should be encouraged to tell their story of grief as often as needed so the reality of the loss becomes real.
Keeping a NICU Journal may be a very helpful and useful way for NICU parents to cope with the their NICU experiences and another way of becoming empowered NICU parents.

More Articles:
Dyer KA. 2009. Students benefit from e-Journaling or using Web Journals in an Online Grief, Loss & Bereavement Course. TCC Worldwide Online Conference. Refereed Proceedings. Vol. 2009. No 1.
NICU Checklist. Products, Resources and Links.
Hathorn M. Keeping a Preemie Baby Diary in the NICU. Premature Baby - Premature Child.
Dyer KA. 2009.
Free NICU Journaling - NICU Diary Resources Available for NICU Parents
. NICU Parent Support Blog.

René de Cock.
Writing a Diary. Royalty Free Use.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Comfort a Grieving Parent by Sending a Sympathy Card

Many times we do not fully understanding the importance of sending a sympathy note until we have personally experienced the benefits of receiving condolence notes from friends and family following the death of a loved one.

Sending of sympathy cards links people together and reinforces a sense of community and solidarity in the wake of the calamity of death.

Send Condolences with a Sympathy Card
Sending a Sympathy card is a simple gesture of support that provide meaning to both senders and receivers.
Sympathy Cards and Condolence Notes are a very popular way to express one's sympathies in the United States. Sending a Sympathy Card to a grieving parent can be very helpful in the healing process.

The death of a child, no matter what age, is always a difficult loss for parents to bear. The death of a baby is particularly difficult. For many parents the death of a child is the death of their hopes and dreams for the future.

An Example of A Sympathy Card for a Neonatal Death
People may not send Sympathy Cards because they don't know what to write. This example of a Sympathy Card is one that could be sent to acknowledge the sudden death of baby as a Miscarriage or later with a Stillbirth or Neonatal Death.

Dearest Laurie & Mark,

I was saddened to hear of the sudden loss of your baby.

I know you have been excitedly planning for his arrival. It must make things very difficult to say "Hello" and "Good-bye" on the same day.

I will be thinking about you both during this difficult time and sending my heartfelt sympathy.

I have seen you handle difficult challenges in the past and wish you the strength to make it through this challenging time.

You are both in my thoughts,

____________ (Your Signature)

When to Send a Sympathy Card
Sympathy Cards is a way to quickly acknowledge a loss once you have heard about it. In these situations you can write a brief personal note on commercial condolence card or insert a brief hand-written note into a hand-crafted card.

Traditional etiquette standards recommended that you follow up the short note with a condolence letter later.

One Mother who experienced a miscarriage noted:
A card or note is a wonderful way of letting them know that you care and that you are thinking of them. It can be a great source of encouragement and support.
You can find out more about How to Write a Sympathy Card, How to Write a Condolence Note or How to Write a Condolence Letter in the articles that I have published on these topics on Squidoo.

More Information:
Dyer K. 2008. How to Write a Condolence Note. Squidoo.com
Dyer K. 2008. How to Write a Condolence Letter. Squidoo.com
Dyer K. 2008.
How to Write a Sympathy Card. Squidoo.com

Lippy, Charles. "Sympathy Cards and the Grief Process." Journal of Popular Culture 17, no. 3 (1983):98–108.

Image Source: © Kirsti A. Dyer. Some Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Comfort a Grieving Parent with a 'Thinking of You' Card

NICU Parents face many challenges from having their baby hospitalized and having to suddenly learn how to cope with an unexpected outcome for the birth of their baby.

One of the things that helped when we were coping with our NICU admission is knowing that we had family and friends thinking about us and holding our daughter in their thoughts and prayers.

Send a Thinking of You Card
One easy way of doing this is to send a "Thinking of You" Card.
A "Thinking of You" Card is a great way to let a NICU Parent know your thoughts are with them during this challenging time and show your support.

A Thinking of You Card is also a way to quickly acknowledge the situation once you have heard about it.

Other Card Options

There are other sentiments that you might want to send on a blank card that would convey your supports.
  • Thinking of you
  • Thinking of you during this difficult time
  • I'm praying for you
  • You are in my thoughts
  • Our thoughts and prayers are with you
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • My thoughts are with you now.
  • We all join in sending you our heartfelt love.
  • May God's Grace strengthen you
Sending cards may be an old tradition, but often during challenging times, falling back on those old traditions is what helps us feel we are doing something and helps us to cope with life's challenges.

More Information:
Dyer K. 2008. How to Write a Sympathy Card. Squidoo.com
Dyer K. 2008. How to Write a Condolence Note. Squidoo.com
Dyer K. 2008. How to Write a Condolence Letter. Squidoo.com

Image Source.
Kissyface. Thinking of You. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
Created from Dan Shirley's roseRY 1 and Sophie's Blank Card. Royalty Free Use.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Encouraging Message: Celebrating Coming Home and An Easter Wish

My NICU newborn was transferred to the level IV ICN on Easter Sunday. The year she was born, Easter was early. Some of the story is shared on the Creating a Circle of Healing and Support post from last year.

This year, Easter fell on the day that we got to take her home from the hospital, a day that I remember as the day she was finally 'ours.'

This year we got a 'She's finally home cake' to celebrate the day that my youngest joined the family. She is now old enough to realize that quite a bit of time passed between the time she was born and the time we got to take her home.

My Wish for Current NICU Parents
For this Easter season, as I once again relive our own NICU experiences, I would like to extend the following wish for NICU and ICN parents who currently have their newborns in the hospital. This wish is part of the healing blessing that we use for my daughter's NICU adventure.

May you continue to heal
moment by moment
hour by hour
day by day
knowing that so many love you
and wait to welcome you.

May you feel loved.
May you be safe.
May you be protected.
May you be strong.
May you be healed.

May you find healing, in whatever form that healing might take.
Our Easter Gift for NICU Parents
For Those Who Hold the Littlest Hands eBookThis Special Healing Blessing comes as a bonus when you download the Free resource for NICU Parents, the NICU eBook, For Those Who Hold the Littlest Hands. This resource is the one that we wish existed when we were in the NICU to provide us with information and support for surviving our own experience.

For more information on the NICU eBook check, Complimentary NICU eBook Available for Download


Dyer KA. Creating a Circle of Healing and Support. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. An Easter Healing Blessing in the Intensive Care Nursery. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Schwing J. Healing Blessing in the Intensive Care Nursery. Chaplaincy Institute website. February 2008 Newsletter.

Image Source: Modified Microsoft Image

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spirit of Water - Love is in the NICU

I am honored that a blog post from a couple of years ago was featured in the February Newsletter from The Spirit of Water. You can read what was included in their newsletter below. The details are a bit muddled, but the sentiment is still real.
Love is in the NICU

An extraordinary expression of love arrived in my email this past month. It was from a doctor who writes a support blog for NICU parents (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). She shared a link to her blog where she has written about water blessing labels and how she used them for her own premature infant and now recommends them to other terrified parents - those who wait and hope their precious infants will survive. Her blog brought tears to my eyes.

But it also opened my heart to a new way of offering love to those who face such challenges. Though her blog [post] was written a few years ago, it is still pertinent today. Read it and weep with love!
The post, Water Blessing Lables Turn Water (or Medicine) into Liquid Prayers was written in June 2007, soon after I discovered the site.

Gifting Water Blessing Labels
The Spirit of Water Water Blessing LabelsI have since gone on to send these labels to friends who are going through tough times, colleagues who are trying to lose weight and as a supportive gift for an athlete facing a cancer diagnosis

They have a variety of themes including: Personal Growth, Prosperity, Healing Medicine, Sacred Feminine, Feng Shui, Sacred Symbols, Law of Attraction and Love & Gratitude. Some of the labels lend themselves better to being used in the NICU, other to being used in different situations.

You can order Water Blessing Labels for yourself from the Spirit of Water Website.

More Resources:
The Spirit of Water Website.
Dyer KA. 2008. Water Blessing Labels. Squidoo.com

Dyer KA. 2007. Water Blessing Lables Turn Water (or Medicine) into Liquid Prayers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grief in the NICU - A New Presentation

Yesterday I had the privileged of presenting the following teleconference as part of the "Managing the Spectrum of Maternal Mental Health Issues from Conception through the Neonatal Experience" at the HHC Perinatal Conference held at Jacobi Medical Center.

I was told that more than 200 Neonatal Providers were present from 11 NICU hospitals.

Being able to give this presentation was particularly fitting because 7 years ago on the 31st was the day that my youngest was transferred to the level IV ICN.

Knowing that I had the ears of NICU personnel from 11 hospitals helps to complete a circle for me...taking our experiences and teaching about them to NICU personnel.