Grief on the Labor & Delivery floor of a hospital has an especially difficult texture. Sometimes patients and families know that their unborn child will not take a breath at the time of delivery. Still, they have to endure the many hours of waiting for that moment to arrive. After the fetal demise or stillbirth, nurses and CNAs have to tend to the little one for hours or up to a day or two. All of this takes a toll.
During this period of waiting, our staff now have an option to offer an art studio to the patient and family. They also may choose to engage in creating, as a way to move their own vicarious grief. Intangible and nebulous feelings can sometimes find a place to land in the concrete world through creating a Compassion Flag. One family who was offered the studio spent several hours creating together. They were very grateful to be able to do this, rather than simply sit and wait for a difficult outcome. The process is quite simple, meaningful, and self-guided.
1. The creators begin with a six-inch fabric square, which is cut from a baby blanket.
2. They are invited to think of an intention or prayer for the baby. They might also include themselves as someone
who deserves compassion.
3. Using the art supplies, they embellish the square with an image, paper, drawing, words, ribbon, or whatever
4. They are given little clothespins and invited to hang the “flag” in the open air or at home as a way to release the
prayer or intention.
So that our staff could experience the process, the director of our Labor & Delivery scheduled a “retreat.” Everyone gathered around a table and created Compassion Flags for someone they love. We shared our flags with each other and the sense of community, caring and connection was richly felt. “This was better than I even imagined!” the director exclaimed.