A bereavement doula supports families through the death of a loved one. I am a perinatal and infant loss doula. I support families who are going through the process of miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. That support can be before, during, and after. This is very similar to birth doula services. It is a support role. It’s a non-clinical role. Doulas don’t provide medical care. We work alongside your care team. When birth and death come intertwined, we still provide all the same birth support. We also can help with teaching families about their options, keepsakes and mementos, ink prints, clay prints, and take photos for the family. Though we are not counselors and do not replace professional counseling, we have the privilege of being at the bedside in the hospital or in the home with the mother during those early days. We validate and teach about the grief process and help families get connected to local resources for bereavement.
Why I became a bereavement doula
Many bereavement doulas became a bereavement doula because of their own personal experience with the loss of a child. They may or may not have already been a birth doula. I want to be gently and fully transparent in the fact that I am not a loss mom. If you would be more comfortable with being supported by someone who is a mother that has walked that path, I completely understand and can refer you to other bereavement doulas in the Dayton area. For others of us who have become bereavement doulas, we were first birth doulas and realized how necessary it is to receive training in this aspect of women’s health. Birth and death go hand in hand far more than we talk about. I sought training because I wanted to be able to better take care of those families. Any birth doula will have those circumstances cross her path. I initially only took the training as continuing education. I never thought I would offer it as a service on its own. I thought surely it would be too emotional, too sad. And I discovered that I have a heart for supporting people who are grieving; it strikes a similar chord as my heart for mental health and supporting people who are dealing with anxiety or depression. I’ve always found it deeply fulfilling to support mental health. Why should dealing with death be too taboo to include in that? God calls people to all areas of healthcare. That includes end of life care. We never talk about that. We never talked about death when I did my first doula training. We never talked about it in college – I mean really talked about it. My degree is in health sciences. I feel like we talked about a thousand ways people can die and we talked about how to prevent death, but no one mentioned sitting with death. No one taught us how to sit with the dying, how to comfort them, how to help their families, what we can do to include the loved ones, what we can offer in those final hours that families can hold on to. I suppose those of us who are called to healthcare learn from the seasoned ones. We would do better for patients and their families if we who tend to death weren’t afraid to talk about it. It is a deep privilege to be in those rooms. I consider it an honor to be invited to support a family who is facing the loss of their baby. Bereavement support is sacred grounds.
What does bereavement support look like?
Miscarriage or other loss in the first 20 weeks If you have received the devastating news that there is no heartbeat but you are still pregnant, I can walk you through your options and help you prepare for the delivery. The timing of miscarriage is hard to predict because it can take some time for the body to be ready to birth, but I will do my best to be there during the process if a family wants.
Stillbirth If you are expecting to give birth soon to your baby who has already passed on, doula services include all the traditional birth doula support as well as bereavement support. If you've already given birth, I can come to the hospital and provide bereavement support even if the family was not a birth doula client.
Neonatal death Sometimes during pregnancy parents find out their baby has a fatal condition. Other times babies are expected to be born healthy, but they are born with serious health issues or perhaps they are born too early. If a mom hasn’t given birth yet, I can provide birth and bereavement doula services. If a baby is already born and time is limited, I can come to the hospital to assist with photos, keepsakes and mementos, and supporting the family at the time of death.
If your baby has already passed away and some time has gone by, you may be learning about bereavement doulas after experiencing loss. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, bereavement doulas can still meet with you after even if it’s been months.
As a lactation specialist, I can also help a mother dry up her milk supply or donate her milk.
What to expect
For the sake of safety, I do meet people in public the first time I meet them. If a family is at the hospital or birthing center, I meet them there.
If a mother is delivering at home after the second trimester has begun, I do require the presence of a midwife. You can still choose a home birth with a known loss, but a midwife is still needed.
If you are reaching out for support after your baby’s death, we can meet one to three times. What we do is give the parents a space to talk about their baby, their pregnancy, their birth experience, their grief experience. I listen. I validate. If you’d like, I can get you connected to peer support. We talk about the grief process. It’s a casual meeting, not too structured. I let the parents lead what they need to talk about and what their needs are at this time in their grief.
Bereavement services are provided on a donation basis as I am able to serve those families. If you are not able to donate, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.
I'm in the southwest corner of Clark County just a few minutes from the Green county line, Montgomery county line, and the Miami county line. It's a highly convenient spot to be able to serve a wide area. I'm only a few minutes from I-70 and just a few more minutes from I-75. My service area is mapped out below. For volunteer bereavement services, I serve the green colored counties. That's Montgomery, Greene, Clark, and Miami.
This includes the following hospitals: Miami Valley Hospital, Upper Valley, Soin, Kettering, Southview, and Mercy in Springfield.
It is a privilege and an honor to be called to the doula life. There are times the birth room holds joy and celebration. There are other times that the birth room holds pain, trauma, grief, shock, fear, confusion, and anger. I provide doula services for all types of birth. That includes healthy birth and unhealthy and births where babies are only on this earth a short time. That includes full term, preterm, miscarried, and neonatal death. I am here. Doulas are guides in this world of birth, for all outcomes.
The following are resources local to the Dayton, Ohio area. If you know of any resources to add to this, please reach out.
Contents: Hospitals Bereavement doulas Photographers for perinatal and infant loss Funeral homes and crematories Gardens and places of dedication Memorial events for babies Charities Ministries Support groups Mental health care
Hospitals with a maternity unit
In the Dayton metro: Kettering, Southview, Soin, Miami Valley, and Miami Valley South
There are two paver dedication services each year, spring and autumn, at Kettering’s Garden of Hope and Remembrance.
October October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Each year on October 15th families light a candle at 7pm in remembrance. This is called the Wave of Light.
Atrium’s HEAL program has an annual Walk to Remember in October.
December Atrium does a HEAL memory tree lighting. Dayton Children’s Hospital has an annual memorial.
We are fortunate to have many counseling services and an abundance of mental health care throughout the Dayton area. There are many caring professionals glad to serve the community. Please reach out if you need help. Every grieving family can benefit from mental health care.