SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Bereavement Support Services

Community-Based Bereavement Services

Family Contact

After a referral is made, staff may provide initial contact by a letter of condolence or telephone call and offer information and referrals to peer- and professional-support systems. Families may be provided with a brochure or fact sheet detailing services and appropriate contact information. Often this type of outreach includes follow-up contacts and community education.

Program staff should also be prepared to send contact information to the infant’s extended family and the family’s friends and co-workers. Child care providers, grandparents and siblings are often ignored grievers, but counseling and information should be made just as available to them.

It is not always possible to locate all identified grieving families. Some families choose not to return to the site of the death and move to a new location very quickly following the death. It is also important to be aware that some grieving families may refuse your offers of support. Be respectful but prepared to assist them at a later time if they choose.

Families often have a strong support network of family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, community and religious affiliations immediately after an infant death. This system may experience a breakdown within a few of months. It is important for programs to continue to remind families that the program’s services are available throughout the first year and beyond. These reminders may be in the form of letters, cards or telephone calls.

Families may display various reactions to an offer of support. Some will seek you out and want immediate attention and answers to their questions. More commonly, families display some apprehension and, on occasion, become defensive and avoid contact altogether. These reactions are often based on a variety of emotional, environmental and cultural factors surrounding the issue of death and professional intervention.