background

Loss & bereavement services...

Provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

Bereavement doulas are able to support families experiencing:

  • Birth in any trimester, and in any outcome
  • Unconventional loss, which may include adoption or surrogacy
  • Support during Newborn Intensive Care Unit stays
  • "Rainbow babies" and subsequent pregnancies
background

My story: why I chose to become a bereavement doula

I realize through life that people assume a lot about one another. But no one knows what happens behind closed doors, and how tears are cried and, the challenges we face. For me, that challenge looked like two pink lines. I had had three children throughout my twenties, and my hands were full. I became pregnant again and carried my daughter for 21 weeks before she passed away. It was a freak umbilical cord accident. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t my fault. It just... happened. And the months following were well meaning people giving their condolences in the ways they knew best. Projecting their stories of grief… telling me I could try again soon. I carried around the guilt and shame of saying I even birthed another baby, by seeing the looks on others faces when I would bring it up. But the thing about life is that it needs to be validated. No matter for how long that life is. So, somehow I pulled myself together and kept living.

A few years later I had a surprise pregnancy (this time a boy) and had a uneventful, wonderful pregnancy. It was a beautiful birth. Full of hope and gratefulness. When he was two, I became pregnant again. At 21 weeks, another baby daughter passed. This time with NO reason. This time in my life, I had no one to lean on. I had moved away, a church family had split and I had four children and a heartbroken husband. I cried out to God “I can not do this again. I can not go through this again.” But I was forced. I gave birth and she was here. We said hello and goodbye in the same day. In the months that followed I was physically and emotionally broken. There was no escape from grief.

 

I slowly realized that I had to become someone else. I had to become someone that was stronger than my circumstances. I had to make a conscious choice to come back to life. For my family, for my sanity and, for a chance to live differently. I read somewhere that grief is love that has nowhere to go. I had to let that love go somewhere. I became a certified bereavement doula (a birth coach who helps facilitate emotional and physical loss to bereaved mothers), There’s too many times women lose pregnancies and carry around guilt and shame. They say “Well, I wasn’t pregnant that long.” They brush off the feelings like it was just a missed opportunity, not a big deal. They can’t say the name of their child in fear it would make someone uncomfortable. I want to tell YOU sweet mama, “This will always be your child. You will always be their mother. You don’t need to get over this. This child will change you into the person you need to become.” My passed children changed me into someone who allows others to have the space they need to feel what they are feeling. Without shame or condemnation. I am here to bring you comfort and say “I’m here and it’s OK.”

background

Connect with me if you have received news of loss; or experiencing loss. I will come to you with the support that matches the need. In the birthroom, NICU bedside, or at home.

Local Resources & Other Help

Hospice Center of Piedmont
675 Peter Jefferson Parkway
Suite 300
Charlottesville VA 22911
1 (800) 975-5301
info@hopva.org
Bereavement Coordinator: Alice Biaj (434) 817-6915

Support Groups

Empty Arms, Full hearts
contact Tammy James at 434-654-5597
tcjames@sentara.com
Meets Third Sunday of every month @ Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital - Craig Conference Room

Compassionate Friends Piedmont Chapter
Meets at the Church of our Saviour on the 4th Tuesday of each month @ 7:00 pm
1165 Rio Road East
Charlottesville Virginia 22901
Email: piedmontvatcf@gmail.com
Phone Contact: Colleen (434) 977-8930
Offers assistance to families following a death of a child of any age from any cause.

Funeral homes that deal with infants

Teauge Funeral Homes
2260 Ivy Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 977-0005

J.F. Bell Funeral Homes
108 6th St NW, Charlottesville, VA 22903 v(434) 295-9169

Monticello Memory Gardens
670 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 296-5682

Grief Counseling

Michelle Sirch, Ph.D., L.P.C., NCC
1710 Allied Street Suite 22
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
(434) 977-8877

Sharon Davis
Thriveworks Counseling
2300 Commonwealth Drive
Suite 100
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901
(434) 363-9172

Lori Richards
Thriveworks Counseling
2300 Commonwealth Drive
#100
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901
(434) 485-5651

National Resources

Sufficient Grace Ministries – http://sufficientgraceministries.org/
Still Standing – http://stillstandingmag.com/
Still Mothers – http://www.stillmothers.com/
Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) – https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com/
Heaven’s Gain – http://www.heavensgain.com/
Carly Marie Project Heal – http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/
Hollyday Designs (Breastmilk Jewelry) – http://www.hollydaydesigns.com/
All That Love Can Do – http://allthatlovecando.blogspot.com/
Perintal Hospice – http://www.perinatalhospice.org/home.html
Nebraska SIDS Foundation – http://www.nebraskasidsfoundation.org/
Star Legacy Foundation – http://starlegacyfoundation.org/
First Candle – http://www.firstcandle.org/grieving-families