Tiny losses, giant impact: Team at JGH helps families and staff cope with perinatal loss

Nurse Nadine Fava (seated) and Social Worker Louna Kadoch, Co-Chairs of the Perinatal Loss Committee at the JGH, holding clothing items they place in Memory Boxes, a symbolic keepsake given to parents at the time of their loss. The commemorative bench and a nearby sapling were dedicated in 2017.
Nurse Nadine Fava (seated) and Social Worker Louna Kadoch, Co-Chairs of the Perinatal Loss Committee at the JGH, holding clothing items they place in Memory Boxes, a symbolic keepsake given to parents at the time of their loss. The commemorative bench and a nearby sapling were dedicated in 2017.

As the final few reddish-brown leaves tumble from the trees outside of the Jewish General Hospital, Social Worker Louna Kadoch and Nurse Nadine Fava quietly reflect on the losses they witness in their line of work. Though not often spoken about, these losses have an enormous impact on families and health care providers alike.

Most pregnancies are problem-free, but a reality in healthcare is that a rare few end in loss, due to events such as miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. Ms. Kadoch and Ms. Fava, Co-Chairs of the Perinatal Loss Committee at the JGH, have made it their mission to honour and support each and every grief-stricken family with an unwavering commitment to compassion.

“Really, what they need is someone to be there to listen to them, to give them that safe space to cry, to be angry. Sometimes, silence is golden. I’m just there to listen,” says Ms. Kadoch.

This past October, the JGH once again highlighted Perinatal Loss and Awareness Day by welcoming families to an intimate ceremony in memory of the infants who left too soon. “Having the ceremony here at the hospital allows the parents we’ve helped to come back and grieve,” says Ms. Fava.

When it comes to perinatal loss, the focus remains on families, but Ms. Kadoch and Ms. Fava are also sensitive to the needs of healthcare workers who have to navigate a delicate and complex process.

“Part of our work is to make it easier for them to give their time to the families,” says Ms. Fava. “We also have a lot of junior nurses who don’t have children of their own, who have a hard time contextualizing what it means to have a loss, so I’m available to support them as they accompany a family with a loss,” adds Ms. Fava.

Thankfully, those difficult moments for families and staff may ultimately become a little easier because of an innovative new piece of equipment known as the CuddleCot. Donated to the JGH by a family that suffered the loss of their infant, the CuddleCot is essentially a crib with a cooling mattress in it. It allows parents to spend precious extra moments with their baby after their passing, creating a special bond at a time of profound sadness.

Perinatal loss is a difficult subject to tackle, but Ms. Kadoch and Ms. Fava are resolute in their quest to raise more awareness. “We’re not giving up,” says Kadoch, in hopes that every conversation may spark more education and ultimately, more resources and support for those who need it most.

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