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People don't talk about the possibility of loss before birth. There is little to no preparation for the possibility of death. When it happens, the opportunity to connect with the child in spirit through ritual and ceremony can truly transform and deepen the parent’s life. There is a space to bring soul connection, beauty, and healing into the terribleness of everything.

If I am serving a bereaved family after a hospital or home birth, I come with a ritual kit & copies of Early Pregnancy Birth Plans, and a presence of mind & heart to be fully open and ready for whatever needs to unfold. I carry tension tamer roll-on and rescue remedy flower tincture; calming essential oils and rose spray which helps soothe the environment and lessen fears. Pink, green, lacy white and blue cloth for draping, tea lights and smudge spray are in the kit to try to make the birthing room ‘softer’.

Photo by Kelly Hurley.

There are options to share in ritual & ceremony practices that gives the family a framework for creating a container for grief…the intention of these practices is to allow families to be present to ‘what is’. There is death, heart wrenching grief; loss of expectations, dreams, plans, and parental experiences. A couple examples of the many ritual & ceremony options I offer are: for the family to anoint the baby with frankincense, rose or rosemary essential oil in a little sea shell; or have a naming ceremony & be presented with a certificate of naming. I have examples of readings, poems, prayers and benedictions.

If the parents choose; they can shroud the baby with a quilt/blanket & experience a ritual of release before the child’s body is handed over to the medical team or funeral home. I always keep a copy of How to Shroud a Body from and a few medicine herbal bundles if the parents wish to place them in the shroud. There are a couple of miscarriage blankets available. I can go out and get flower petals to adorn the child’s body or take photography if requested. I keep a sheet with photo examples from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

In my ritual kit, there is everything from story books that the parents can read to the baby and recorded lullabies to sing; along with little plush toys. If there are older siblings present I have art supplies & children's books on death to read. If the medical staff give permission; there are lovely bathing supplies including baby shampoo, baby powder, wipes, lotion, bathing bowl, and massage oil that the parent/s can use to bathe their baby. There is a little baby comb if the child has hair. Printed resources round out the kit. 

I always keep a little personal stash of items for myself and a couple options for nutrition and hydration.


Kelly Hurley is a HHA graduate and has an Infant and Pregnancy Loss Doula practice in British Columbia.  You can learn more about her at

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