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Meet Lori Beth Blaney of Rachel’s Gift

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori Beth Blaney.

Lori, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2006, I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter Rachel when we were involved in a car collision. I was flown to Grady but Rachel did not survive. She was stillborn the next day. During my 2-year physical recovery from my injuries I was reaching out to find some emotional healing through contact with other mothers who had experienced infant loss. I quickly found that most mothers suffer in silence because of the avoidance experienced while in the hospital and after by family and friends and because of many regrets over decisions made or not made while in the hospital. I found that nurses do not receive training on how to properly care for a mother who is experiencing a stillbirth or how to physically care for the deceased infant to give the mother and other family members a gentle bonding experience with their baby to be able to say goodbye while not adding to the trauma.

After a lot of research in the medical and counseling fields, Rachel’s Gift came into being in 2008. Our mission is two-fold. One, to provide hospital staff with the training necessary to probably guide a patient through the loss of an infant and two, to provide the keepsakes and resources available to give the mother some lasting physical connections to her child that she will need through her grieving process. We also conduct follow up with loss patients and provide resources and support groups to assist families through their one-year anniversary of their loss.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
At first, facilities were wary of a “free” service to help them begin or improve their bereavement programs. Once the facilities began to see the value in the education provided to their staff and how it was improving the care of their loss patients, doors began to open.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
At Rachel’s Gift Inc. we partner with hospitals to assist parents through the initial phase of infant loss through a base of caring and knowledgeable volunteers. We provide grief assistance for the families as well as a training program for nursing professionals and care-givers on companioning patients through infant loss. Our ultimate goal is to provide a healthy environment to begin the grieving process to minimize long-term psychological damage to individuals and their families experiencing infant loss while at the same time providing lifetime keepsakes of their child. These keepsakes will be a lifetime reminder and a physical connection to the child that was only in their arms a matter of minutes or hours.

Rachel’s Gift has been established to be the first help the parents receive after learning of the death of their infant. The goal of Rachel’s Gift is two-fold and each goal is outlined as follows:

LPC’s, in partnership with nursing professionals and mothers who have experienced loss, have drafted a course for hospital staff to educate them in the grief process of someone who has lost an infant. After research, we have learned that these professionals have had little to no training in this area and have, as a result, just avoided these situations. These parents are left alone in a hospital room drowning in their grief and everyone afraid to care for them because they don’t know what to do or say. We equip hospital staff with an outline to help them face the grief and in turn help the patient. A four-hour class is given in person with questions answered and resources given to each attendee to refer back to. They are also provided with a 24-hour hotline number to call when they are in need of any outside assistance. Our course is a continued education course in ethics that doctors and nurses can receive credit for their furthering education and renewing of licenses.

The second goal of Rachel’s Gift is to provide families with keepsakes of their deceased child. When a child is stillborn or expires shortly after birth there is a narrow window in which to collect keepsakes. With the mental state of the family at the time they cannot think clearly and cannot look ahead to what they will want to have as a remembrance of their child. We provide a package, presented by a trained nurse, that includes such things as clay kits to collect hand and footprints, an album specifically designed for an infant that has expired, a book to guide them in grieving the loss of their child and information on local businesses that provide their services free of charge along with materials on counseling services and support groups should they need them after they leave the hospital. The Rachel’s Gift representative, which is in most cases that patients nurse, is as involved as the family wants them to be in helping them collect these keepsakes and making other arrangements for services available. We have found through our research that most families do not get to utilize the services available because they have no way of knowing about them. Our job is to connect them with whatever services they want or need and the keepsakes that we provide will be lifelong tangible links to their child and will aid them in their healing process.

We have found no other company that offers the complete bereavement package to hospitals; bereavement education, and the materials for the families.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania on a cattle farm. I was always outgoing and enjoyed sports and my horses.

Contact Info:

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