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Patient and family resources
Patient and family resources

Pathways Grief Support Program

Pathways Overview

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Pathways Grief Support Program is housed within the Paediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) at SickKids. All bereaved families who have experienced the death of a child who was cared for at SickKids are offered the opportunity to receive services and support from Pathways. Two Grief Support Coordinators are available to help you Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:30. Together in collaboration with PACT they can help you gain the resources and support that your family requires. To reach the program please email: grief.support@sickkids.ca

Anticipatory Grief

Pathways  Grief Support Coordinators, along with the PACT Consult Service are available to sit with you and help with you while you grapple with difficult decisions and possible outcomes. We are honoured to be able to work with families who are both hopeful and grieving at the same time.

Grief and Your Breast Milk

Grieving parents often are uncertain about what to do about their breast milk when their infant is dying or has already died.  The following link contains information to support grieving parents as they decide about cessation of breast milk production or to consider donation- whether it is donation of milk already pumped or to continue to pump milk for other needy infants.  If you are looking to consider this option, please contact the Rogers Hixon Milk Bank to find out if you can donate and begin the process. If you have stored Expressed Breast Milk at SickKids and want to consider donating, please contact the Milk Bank ASAP via their website as the milk can only be stored for 30 days after your child's death. You will require at least 5 Litres of saved milk for donation. This gift will assist premature and ill babies in hospitals.  After this point it will be respectfully discarded.  

For more information about our program, please click on the Pathways Grief Support Program brochure .  

Legacy Building in Palliative and Bereavement Care

Grief Support includes making memories and finding ways to tell your child/patient’s story. PACT  has Grief Support Carts that assist with making memories.  Staff have received training on how to use the items in the carts. Memory making can include:

  • Photography (either with Grief Support Cart Camera and SD card provided or through contacting a community/hospital photographer who offers professional photography at no charge ( you can also find out about community photography if it is available for your family through the Grief Support Coordinator)
  • You can go online and create a Song of Love for your child- it can be marked urgent if you anticipate your child's death within the next few weeks but the CD will usually arrive in 4-8 weeks after submission via online or fax. The song is created for your infant/child/teen with their likes and favourite things by a song writer and is then sung by an artist just for your child. You can request a certain style of music and they will do their best to help that happen. Take a look at the website to learn more. www.songsoflove.org or find the APP in both Apple and Android options.
  • Hand/foot prints (either in blue/black ink and/or embossed)
  • 3D molds made with family and child:(see Instructions for Care of 3D Mold after they are made)
  • Model Magic molds 
  • Sound disks to capture a heart beat or the sound of a child's or parents' voice (10 seconds) 
  • Painted hands/feet on art boards
  • Thumb print trees
  • Lip prints
  • Hugs from child to family and from family to child for when you are not able to be together (you can use a strip of fabric the length of your arms and chest decorated with loving memories)
  • Butterfly Bravery Bead- this is for families to complete their Bravery Bead chain after the death of their child. It is sent by their clinical team with their first bereavement card. If you did not receive one in the first few months after your child's death, please contact the Grief Support Coordinators.
  • Memory Boxes to place the items in can be decorated by the child or siblings/parents as a safe place to store their valuable memories
  • Creation and work towards fulfillment of a BUCKET LIST with the child who has a life limiting condition or on their behalf if they can't participate fully
  • Specific written resources to support families are also available on the Grief Support Cart for:
    • parents
    • grandparents
    • siblings
    • special circumstances (single parents, death of a twin, same sex couples, etc.)

For parents of infants (under 1 year) who have died, there is an American group called: Mollys Bears who will make matching-weighted teddy bears for parents who are grieving the death of their infant.  Click on the link above to check it out and see if it might be helpful for you and your family.