This year marks the 40th year of Wisconsin’s Infant Death Center (IDC). While infant death is a challenging topic to talk about, the subject is full of conversations that need to be had in order to properly grieve the loss of an infant.
The IDC, housed within Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, provides support and resources for families that have experienced the sudden and unexpected death of an infant. Joanna O’Donnell, IDC Project Manager, wants to ensure that all families receive the support they need while they grieve.
“All death is tragic, but infant death is a particular type of experience that can lead to traumatic and complicated grief,” O’Donnell says. “Infant loss is difficult because not a lot of people have gone through that type of loss. The IDC exists to help families that have gone through this, because having these difficult conversations are important to help aid in the grieving process.”
Families can be referred to the IDC from medical examiners and corners, health care providers and public health care nurses or they can reach out themselves if they feel ready to. Families that have been referred to the IDC receive resources such as online support group options, a texting hotline, FAQ’s about infant death, self-care ideas and more.
Grief is a hard topic to talk about and is often a forgotten subject that contains bottled feelings and emotions. Because of this, having these difficult conversations are important in navigating the grief journey. As a health care provider it may be difficult to talk with families about an emotional topic such as infant death, which is why the IDC is an important resource to share.
“The best thing a health care provider can do is acknowledge and validate the infant’s life and that baby was a person, even if they were only 10 minutes old or did not survive outside the womb,” O’Donnell says. “The other thing providers can do is refer families to the IDC. We reach out to the family for a year or longer and can provide help throughout the grieving process; we’re here to help all families.”
Joanna can be reached by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text or phone call (414-337-4571).