5. Demonstrating emotion to parents

The relationship staff establish with parents while they are in hospital or in regular contact (in out-patient or primary care) is important to parents. Many parents tell us they value the empathy and support they receive from staff. It is important that the value of talking to parents and providing emotional support to them is recognised. Sometimes staff are the only people, other than the parents themselves, to ever have known the twin who died. This makes the bond between parents and staff special. Parents appreciate staff showing empathy and value seemingly small actions and behaviours that demonstrate compassion and caring.

  • Providing emotional support in healthcare settings is as important as more practical tasks.
  • Demonstrate you are available and willing to listen to parents by asking open questions, such as, ‘How are you feeling today?’
  • Body language is vital: how you behave and talk is as important as the words you use
  • Staff do not need to feel they have all the answers or know what to say: if you are unsure it may be OK to say “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say…”
  • Remember “…it’s the little things that count”

I was angry, I was numb…I was hurting.

I didn’t allow myself to get upset because I didn’t want to lose the other baby.

I still remember the comments people make, just off-the-cuff, but they’ll crush you.

I grieve all the time, but I hadn’t dealt with the issues causing it.