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'Comfort kits' donated to Bluewater Health for families experiencing loss

Local mother Lo-Anne Chan is keeping the memory of her daughter alive by ensuring grieving mothers and families across Sarnia-Lambton receive a comfort kit as they leave the hospital after experiencing infant loss.

The local non-profit organization is in honour of her daughter, Araminta, on what would have been her first birthday.

The comfort kits were an idea she had after leaving the hospital with donations of her own after losing Araminta, said Chan.

“When we left the hospital after the death of our baby, we got some donations, but as wonderful as they are, they’re really emotionally heavy,” Chan told the Journal.

Bluewater Health’s Maternal Infant Care (MIC) unit and Pediatric Palliative Care team welcomed the first donation of ten comfort kits, assembled by The Valeria Fund.

Chan said she discovered that there are other communities that create comfort kits too.

“I was able to get some of those comfort kits from other parents across Ontario and I thought that it would be such a wonderful idea to bring it here and get that started locally.”

Chan said she started by talking with different businesses locally to see if any would be interested in contributing, and with support the kits have grown to include a book, a candle, a crocheted bunny, some tea, chocolate, and seed paper to write a letter to their baby.

“[Work with the Valeria Fund] gives me a physical way to channel my grief into something,” says Chan. “Every time that I'm able to talk about the kits and the fund, it's my way of keeping my daughter's legacy alive.”

Bereaved Mothers Day is one week before traditional Mothers Day to give extra time to mentally prepare for the commercialization of the day of recognition, says Chan.

“For anyone who knows of anyone who has experienced infant or pregnancy loss, just reach out to them, let them know you remember, that you're thinking of them,” says Chan. “And for the people who have experienced it, basically, just be gentle with yourselves and do what you need to do for yourself and for your family.”

On June 2 in Canatara Park, Chan will be hosting The Walk to Remember on behalf of the PAIL Network (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network.)

“It’s an event for bereaved families to get together and share and talk about their babies if they choose to. If not, just walk, we'll walk a loop around the park,” explains Chan. “As long as they register, they will get a flag and some other memorial pieces that they can personalize to their babies.”

The Valeria Fund is seeking partnerships with local businesses and have crochet patterns ready to be sent to anyone willing to crochet bunnies in preparation for future comfort kits. All donations are eligible for tax receipts and all funds go directly to Bluewater Health Foundation.

As a community fundraising initiative, The Book Keeper is offering a Buy A Book Campaign. For the entire month of May select books in-store and online will be 20% off with that portion donated to future comfort kits.

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