Yesterday I attended Bereavement Training in Antrim and it was a brilliant day. It was wonderful on two parts - personally, because I did not cry (bonus!!); and professionally, because it was great to meet other women who are so passionate about the bereavement care which families receive.
I always find gatherings of like minded people a wonderful and fascinating environment. There is so much passion for the same cause and so much openness to share and learn. It was great to be amongst so many dedicated and hardworking midwives.
There was a lot covered yesterday and it was great to be on the receiving end of this information. Some information rang true with my experience, but other information and scenarios did not. We discussed communication, not making assumptions, and how to break bad news. We looked at different experiences from bereaved families, and some quotes covering different areas of life - work, friends, remembering, triggers, religion, and different cultural experiences, amongst many others. So many things change when you lose a baby and so many areas are affected.
There were even some 'aha' moments for me. One in particular was about the turmoil of a loss. One minute you are going along with life and the next minute everything stops. Life changes beyond recognition. And these changes are far-reaching and long-lasting. There was a piece in the training about how a lot of people end up changing jobs after a loss. This was my 'aha' moment. I thought, 'really, this is actually a 'thing'?' My life has changed beyond measure and so has my 'job'. The realisation and recognition of how traumatic loss is was comforting for me.
People cannot realise enough that everything changes.
I have attended a few training sessions now, both as a Sands speaker and as a participant, and the majority of people who attend are midwives. I understand this. Midwives are the people who are there during the bereavement. They are the ones who often break the news of the baby's death to the family; they are often the ones with the family before the birth answering their questions and mopping up tears; and they are often the people who are there delivering the baby. They are also the ones visiting the families in their homes after the baby has been born. Honestly, I do not know how they do it. They need support as well. They experience a stillbirth, not in the same way as the family, but they are there going through it.
It is wonderful that this training is now available. But, more needs to be done to pass on information about the best way to provide care during a bereavement. And, this information needs to be passed on to people working in other departments and areas of the hospital. Where are the doctors, consultants, and management? From my personal experience, they could benefit from this type of training as well. So, where are they?
All it takes is one comment from someone to make the grief and bereavement worse. All it takes is one insensitive throwaway remark from someone to derail healing and acceptance. Any person who comes into contact with bereaved families should avail of training and information about the best care to provide for bereaved families.
I hope to spread the information learnt yesterday to those that are affected and hopefully there will be greater exposure from other staff members in the training sessions coming up.