Helping bereaved parents stabilize and stay afloat

When a baby dies, parents are set adrift.  Even the most well-intentioned friends and family are mystified about how to help, and in the days that follow a tragedy of these proportions, everyone gets a bit lost at sea.

The loss of a child is a passage I have had to navigate in my own life. The inspiration for Ballast & Buoy began with the stillbirth of our first baby, a son, in 2009. The people who loved us didn’t know what to do, and we didn’t either. Those early, awful days were dark and disorienting. We felt robbed, bereft, and desperate to change the unchangeable.

I know firsthand what a disorienting and isolating experience the grief of pregnancy loss can be.  I’m here to provide empathetic and experienced navigation for parents dealing with the aftermath of miscarriage, medical interruption, stillbirth, and infant death.

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I will always be a woman whose first child died, and I won’t give up either that grievance or the bad jokes of everyday life. I will hold on to both forever.

Elizabeth McCracken
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Friends and family: How to help

It is a terrible thing to bear witness when someone you love loses a baby. You want to be able to take their pain away, even as you know that you can’t. There are, however, several constructive ways to channel your desire to be there for them:

1. Organize a meal train. Fresh fruits and vegetables, already cut and ready to eat, are very nurturing. Meals in small portions that are easy to heat and eat are also appreciated. If your friends are not ready for conversation, drop it off on the front steps and text them when it’s done.

2. If your friends want company, schedule a time to visit. Take them for a walk, or just sit with them. Be prepared to hold space for them.

3. Choose your words carefully. However lovingly you might intend them, certain phrases are more hurtful than helpful in the moment. Natalie Himmelrich offers tips on how to say the right things.

Your presence is the most valuable thing you can offer to bereaved parents. Be gentle, listen carefully, and be ready to meet them where they are at each stage of grieving.

Personalized support for miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death

For families who want support at home in the aftermath of baby loss, I offer practical, compassionate bereavement assistance to light the way forward. I’ll help you chart the course with:

  • Guidance on how to stop lactation or donate your milk
  • Memorial service or remembrance ritual planning
  • Connections to support groups and mental health professionals
  • Recommended reading
  • Accompaniment to your six-week postpartum checkup, if needed
  • Advice on getting out in the world and going back to work
  • Text, email, and phone support
  • Postpartum recovery assistance

I’ll guide you in moving forward in the face of unimaginable loss. You will get through this.

Get in touch at
(207) 558-2229
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