Reid Health’s focus on perinatal and infant loss support inspires donation
Stephanie Nicholson (left), Reid Health’s
Resolve Through Sharing Bereavement Coordinator, accepts a donation from Claire and Jared Olson,
founders of Piper's Purpose.
May 3, 2021 -- It's been eight months since Claire Olson and her husband, Jared, lost their daughter Piper halfway through Claire's pregnancy.
In the time since, the couple have launched an effort in Piper's name that aims to support other families grieving the loss of a life that had only just begun.
Piper's Purpose, a group made up of Claire and a few volunteers, have been making donations of handmade blankets, candles, and more to hospitals and OB/GYN offices. On Friday, she and Jared dropped off their latest gift at Reid Health.
The donation was a special one for the couple. It was the first time Jared had been able to be there with Claire when the items were presented.
"He's always had to work in the past," Claire said, "but we are trying to represent both the support of the mom and the dad."
The donations, dubbed Piper's Packages, typically consist of a small handmade blanket, candles, pregnancy and infant loss stickers, and information about Return to Zero: H.O.P.E., a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness of pregnancy and infant loss issues.
"I wouldn't be able to connect with the loss community and expand our mission if it weren't for family, friends, and volunteer support," Claire said.
For Reid, the gift was a bit different, consisting of items for siblings such as children's books about death and dying.
"Especially for Reid, we branched out to find ways to support the living siblings," Claire said.
"I really do think Reid has one of the most comprehensive bereavement programs I've come across. I would definitely encourage others to use Reid because they'll be well taken care of from a bereavement standpoint." -- Claire Olson of Piper's Purpose
There's also something for providers, including cards and little items that can be given to the nurses who work with families who have suffered a loss.
"These nurses experience the grief, too," Claire said. "These are little things if they need a pick-me-up."
When Piper's Purpose was just beginning, the first contact Claire made with any hospital was to Stephanie Nicholson, Reid's Resolve Through Sharing Bereavement Coordinator.
"She took my call, which is a big deal, and then we talked forever. She was very supportive of our mission and was very receptive to the idea that the things we were offering could be used and could be a benefit at Reid," Claire said.
"From our first conversation, I was really drawn to what Reid is doing. She just kind of affirmed everything that I had seen on their website that was being implemented."
Claire had been drawn to the section of the Reid Health website that deals with perinatal and infant loss. What she found there suggested Reid was serious about helping families grieve, a trait that was rare in her early experience with Piper's Purpose.
As time passed and Claire worked with other health systems, her belief that Reid's program was special strengthened.
"I really do think Reid has one of the most comprehensive bereavement programs I've come across. I would definitely encourage others to use Reid because they'll be well taken care of from a bereavement standpoint," Claire said.
"It appears there is leadership and overall hospital network support for providing comprehensive bereavement resources to families, which is something I don't always see."
"To have the Reid leadership support and then someone like Stephanie running the program, I think that's a special combination." -- Claire Olson
Claire credits Nicholson for building a program to support families at a time when it's needed most.
"She just has a special personality and ability to relate and be compassionate, and I think that translates into the program," Claire said. "It's her leadership, commitment, and understanding of this type of loss and how to give full support from the beginning to the end. She seems very passionate about continuing to develop the bereavement resources.
"To have the Reid leadership support and then someone like Stephanie running the program, I think that's a special combination."
Although bereavement support has been present at Reid's Family Birthing Center for more than two decades, since 2018, many of the staff there, at the Reid OB/GYN office, and in outpatient surgery have taken courses in being a bereavement support person.
"That's something that's definitely not in every facility," Nicholson said.
"To have people actually trained in managing those moments in the hospital with the family is so important. The situation is already very traumatic for the family. That's huge to be able to have training support that's valued," she said.
If you have questions about Reid's Perinatal & Infant Loss Program, please contact Stephanie Nicholson by calling the Family Birthing Center at (765) 983-3020.