Lost but never forgotten
Nurses in the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead have developed a first-of-its-kind colouring book to help parents and children work through the loss of their baby or sibling.
Uniquely designed, illustrated and written by nurses themselves, the book, titled My Brave Journey, commemorates the approximately 106,000 babies who lose their lives to miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death each year.
The book is designed to help parents answer difficult questions from their children while also providing a space for children to express their thoughts and feelings after the loss of a brother or sister.
“My Brave Journey is the first of its kind in Australia to support families – especially siblings – after the loss of a baby,” said Nadine Griffiths, Clinical Nurse Consultant.
“While the resource doesn’t have all the answers and can’t take away the family’s grief or despondency, it can be helpful as a starting point to discuss what is a difficult and confronting topic for adults, especially when faced with questions from their children.
“We hope that the colouring book will also be a tool that children will find really useful to help cope with the loss of a sibling.
“It’s important to remember that siblings of babies who’ve died often experience vicarious trauma due to the admission of their sibling to an intensive care unit and subsequent disruption in life for their family. They need love, support and answers too,” Nadine said.
Each year, three in every 1,000 babies born in Australia die before they reach 12 months of age. In addition to this, six babies are stillborn every day and one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
For the families of these babies, holistic support during this difficult time is crucial.
“The Grace team work very closely with families after the loss of a child to ensure they have the support they need and siblings are an integral part of this. This support includes engagement with our social work team and referral to support services if needed, and now our book can be added to resources provided to families,” Nadine said.
My Brave Journey has been launched to coincide with International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day today and is available for free to bereaved families across Australia. To receive a copy, please contact Life’s Little Treasures Foundation.
It is the second in a series of colouring books developed to help support siblings of critically-ill newborns, with the first, My Colourful Journey, aimed at helping siblings understand the intensive care environment.
My Brave Journey was developed in partnership with Life’s Little Treasures Foundation and designed in consultation with psychologists, bereaved families, clinicians and bereavement specialists.