Quote from janfrn
Our unit has a well-developed bereavement package. Everything is contained in a Rubbermaid storage bin. We have two sizes of bin to accmmodate the different things appropriate to the age of the child. Each bin holds a quilt and a memory box to hold things like a lock of hair, the child's name card (our nursing assistants make decorative name cards for each patient using scrapbooking materials, which are then laminated and taped to the monitors), hospital bracelets, get well cards, and any other items that might be desired. There's a booklet on grief written for parents and another for siblings. We will make footprints of infants, and handprints of all others. One teenager with severe, chronic problems even had a mold made of her hand clasped in that of her sister's. If the parent wants photos, we have a Polaroid camera, and access to a high-quality digital camera and printer. The nurse caring for the child at the time of death writes a note to the family to be included in the package. All the contact information for our grief counsellor, chaplain, social worker and the nursing staff are included as well, so that the family can call for support at any time. And many do. We have a sympathy card that sits at the nurses' station for all who wish to to record their feelings for the family; it is mailed out about 2 weeks after the death. Then we do a follow-up at six months. We also have semiannual memorial services for the children who have died in the preceeding six months. Families, friends and staff are invited to attend; there is a small reception afterward so the families can reconnect with the people they bonded with and every single one of these services is well attended. If you like, I can get you an itemized list of what's in the box and the rest of the process. Just let me know. Bless you for taking this on!
This sounds very similar to what our PICU does when a child dies. In addition, I helped initiate a program we call "Huggy Bears." It's to assist siblings in the grief process. When a child passes, each sibling recieves a small, soft, very huggable teddy bear with a tag that reads something like:
"Hi, my name is Huggy Bear. I know you miss your (brother/sister) very much, and I want to help you feel better. Anytime you need to talk to him/her, you can whisper your secrets in my ear, and I shall pass the message along. I also carry tons of hugs from your sister/brother in my tummy, and you can have one anytime you want, I will never run out! I hope we can be good friends!"
Feel free to use this idea, I borrowed it from an ingenious preschool teacher who was very concerned for one of her young pupils after the loss of an infant sister. That pupil is almost 12 yrs old, and still sleeps with her bear every night. We started the program in ouer PICU intending to assist the younger sibling, but I have given them to teenage sibs who seemed to respond to it.
Good luck, I think death/dying and bereavement is one of the most challenging parts of our job inpediatrics, and I just love it when people really want to get involved when most think it's easier to just ignore it, maybe it'll go away.