Bereavement Support services provide resources to grieving families, which may include a necklace with a thumb print of their child, a recording of the child's heartbeat that goes into a teddy bear, plaster casts of feet and hand prints, counseling services and burial assistance. The services are facilitated by a multidisciplinary group of physicians, nurses and family support staff who volunteer to serve bereaved families. Beyond the individualized services offered, Connecticut Children’s hosts an annual ceremony that brings together families whose children have passed at Connecticut Children’s. This event provides families an opportunity to speak about their loved one, honor their memory, grieve and be vulnerable around others who have experienced the loss of a child. Adrienne says, “One of the things I have enjoyed a lot in the three years afterwards is the bereavement ceremony held at Wickham Park. It’s wonderful to hear the stories of other families and how they're all doing.”
At the 2023 ceremony, all of the families who lost a child were given a jar of colored sand to represent the child they had lost. Each family then poured their sand into a larger container to make sand art, which was shaken and distributed in small bottles to all of the families and attendees. Each bottle represents all of the families and their beloved children and serves as a reminder that no one is alone in their grief.
Michelle Cutrali, a longtime supporter and philanthropic volunteer at Connecticut Children’s and agent with New York Life, was moved by this activity. “To us, this is a bottle of colored sand, but what it represents is one of the most significant, unifying events that we helped to support,” she said.