Time to Grieve

Promise Magazine: Fall/Winter 2016

Jens and Kerstin Locher’s fundraiser for a cuddle cot at St. Paul’s inspired others to give.

“Sometimes a moment is a lifetime,” reads the beautiful inscription on St. Paul’s first cuddle cot, a gift made possible by Jens and Kerstin Locher’s fundraising efforts in memory of their infant sons Marlon and Tobias. Marlon passed away in 2011, two days after his birth, from complications during delivery; and in 2012 the Locher’s son Tobias was stillborn at 35 weeks gestation.

Working with St. Paul’s Foundation, Jens and Kerstin brought together a group of family and friends to raise $3,500 to purchase a cuddle cot in the fall of 2015. “It’s something that would have helped us. And because we wanted to help other parents, Kerstin and I decided that raising money to buy a cuddle cot for St. Paul’s would be fitting,” says Jens.

The Locher’s fundraiser inspired a group of respiratory therapists at St. Paul’s to do something similar in celebration of Respiratory Therapists Week in September 2015. The group gifted $3,000 to the maternity ward to fulfill a wish list that supports the cuddle cot initiative to help bereaved parents. The list includes a memory box for keepsakes like a baby blanket, scissors to collect a lock of hair, a kit to take foot- and hand-prints, a journal, books and other support resources for parents.

While these fundraising efforts were underway, Belinda-Ann Furlan, a nurse practitioner at the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic, stepped into a St. Paul’s elevator and saw a poster calling for donations for the cuddle cot campaign. It struck a deep chord, borne of personal experience – her older sister was stillborn and Belinda-Ann believed her mother still carried grief from that time. To honour her mother’s recent birthday, Belinda-Ann contacted St. Paul’s Foundation and arranged to make a donation to support the respiratory therapists’ fundraising campaign. Belinda-Ann’s mother was greatly moved by her daughter’s gesture and how many grieving parents would be impacted by it.

While the passing of a newborn is tragic, acknowledging parents’ pain and providing a means for grieving is important to St. Paul’s. The inscription on the cuddle cot resonates with both hospital staff and parents, embracing the sentiment of giving everyone the moment they need.