A Toledo-based organization has created a channel for women to support one another through an extraordinary time in their lives – the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or early childhood. It’s still an experience that is frequently not discussed, as are other deaths. Parents can feel lonely and unable to reach out for help, friends frequently don’t know what to say that will comfort them, and even doctors focus more on the mother’s physical health than psychological wellbeing.
“I didn’t have any support for this [2016 miscarriage],” explained Danielle Nicole, founder and president of Tiny Hearts Remembered. As time went on, she realized that most women who have lost a baby or infant have similar experiences, and that they all needed a place to share stories, learn that there are others like them and to celebrate – by name – the “angels” they have lost.
Channels for support
Established as a nonprofit in 2020, Tiny Hearts Remembered is determined to “decrease the negative impact of pregnancy and infant loss (PAIL) through support programs, education and advocacy, particularly in minority communities.”
Primary among the group’s support activities is the Angel Mamas Facebook Group (with more than 470 women) and its monthly virtual support group.
“Most of our activities are virtual, so we’re able to meet with and support people from all over the world,” Danielle Nicole said. These groups are the safe space they need with others who have had similar experiences. “We also give them tips for getting through this time,” and for especially difficult times – the holidays, birthdays and other personal milestones.
Tiny Hearts Remembered also provides an outlet – on its website and other social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) – for women to share their loss and healing stories through photos, letters and even video. They hold a variety of bonding events throughout the year (most virtually), including a movie party, a paint and sip event and a pajama party.
These events help women feel comfortable, at last, to tell their own stories. “Some members of our group had their loss 15 to 30 years ago,” Danielle Nicole said. She remembers one woman who never talked about losing twins 20 years ago. “But with the encouragement of these women, she has been able to name the twins she lost,” she said.
Helping others to heal
A significant, and tangible, support for women experiencing PAIL is the group’s Tiny Heart Care Package, given through the Mercy St. Vincent Birthing Center and also available online, which features items for women to remember their “angel baby” and also to focus on self-care. Packages can include items such as a facial mask, scented candle, a “Mommy of an Angel” necklace, teddy bears and journals. Tiny Hearts Remembered is raising funds to provide these care packages to other hospitals and in other giving programs.
They’re also creating a “scholarship” program to help women financially after their loss. They have established an advocacy program to help inform the community about PAIL through educational programs and community events (such as a recent Toledo Botanical Garden walk with the organization C.A.R.E. (Caring and Restoring Each Other)).
And Danielle Nicole regularly reaches out personally to the Tiny Hearts Remembered community to make sure they’re supported. “I’ll check in with women to see how they are, and to share ideas for them to commemorate the angels in their lives,” she said. “It’s important for them to know we are a 24/7 safe place. We support you, no matter what.”
Tiny Hearts Remembered, 6020 W. Bancroft St. 419-407-6953. tinyheartsrememberedinc.org