How to add a funeral home to your resource list

One of the most helpful resources for many families is their local funeral home. I’ve made you a guide for how to get in touch with your local funeral home and find out what resources they offer. 

Step 1: look up the legal requirements for funeral home involvement.
There are usually state or federal requirements for at what gestational age a funeral home legally must be involved in order for families to have access to their little one’s remains. Do an internet search for key terms such as “legal requirement funeral home fetal remains [insert your country or state here]” to learn what those requirements are for the families you serve.

Step 2: look up what funeral homes serve folks in your area.
This is usually pretty easy to find from an internet search.

Step 3: scan their websites for any mention of perinatal loss.
Most funeral homes don’t post about perinatal loss, even if they have extra resources specifically for families facing the loss of a child. 

Step 4: call or email each funeral home to ask about resources in cases of perinatal loss.

Here is a script for you: 
“Hi, my name is Abby, and I’m a birth doula here in (state your town or neighborhood). I’m working on a resource list for families who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, and I wanted to ask what kinds of services or resources you have for families in that situation.” And if it’s an email, you can end with: “Thank you for your help!” 

Some resources you might expect to hear about would include miscarriage burial/cremation options (i.e., options for when a baby’s body is very small or is not identifiable), liaison services with the local hospitals (which are legally required in some states at certain gestational ages), financial support for families in paying for funerals (either from the funeral home or from local partners), and local cemeteries or other place of burial available for babies. 

You may want to ask specifically about past experiences the funeral home staff has had supporting families through perinatal loss. In my experience, almost every funeral home I’ve worked with has been compassionate and tender, but some have been more informed about perinatal loss than others. 

Step 5: record what resources are available so you know and can communicate them to families as needed. 


I know that this type of resource-gathering is new for a lot of folks. I hope this guide makes it a bit less intimidating. Let me know how it goes!


Taking the Haven Bereavement Doula Training as a Non-Doula

In this blog post, Haven Trained Bereavement Doula Julie McKay answers some questions about what it was like to take the Haven Bereavement Doula Training as someone who had not previously been a doula. We thank Julie for sharing her wisdom, and we hope it helps you discern whether this role is right for you!

What was it like, taking the Haven Bereavement Doula Training as someone new to the doula world? 

While I was taking the Haven Bereavement Doula training, I felt included in the training even though I am not a birth doula. I knew that my experience and input mattered as much as the seasoned doulas taking the training. At the same time, I was able to learn from the birth doulas about how to be a good doula. Their experience supporting clients and running successful doula businesses helped me think of aspects of being a doula that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. It was helpful to be in discussion groups with them, so I could hear their perspective on the different exercises. Abby also took the time to explain the more technical birth-related terms, so those of us who were not birth doulas could understand the examples and scenarios that we discussed during the training. As a result, I didn’t feel left behind or confused during the training.

What did you learn in the training? 

As part of the training, I was able to develop a better understanding of the various roles of a bereavement doula. Before I started the training, I didn’t know the concrete ways that a bereavement doula supports clients. Throughout the course of the training, we spent time learning about and discussing physical, emotional, informational, social, advocacy, philosophical, and spiritual support. I was able to think through what those different aspects of support would look like in various scenarios. In addition, I was able to reflect on what types of support would come more naturally to me and which ones would be more challenging.

During the training, I was able to think through how I would use self-care to support myself as a bereavement doula. I was surprised to learn how common doula burnout is. At the end of each training session, Abby asked us how we were going to take care of ourselves after the session ended. By hearing the other ideas that were shared, I was able to think of different ways I could support myself while being a doula. Even outside the training sessions, I reflected on how grief was showing up in my body, what I needed to process what I was learning, and how I could build support networks for myself.

Why did you decide to become a bereavement doula? 

I am a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner which means that I teach women and couples how to chart their signs of fertility so they can avoid or achieve pregnancy and monitor their fertility. When I first started learning about grief work, I just wanted to know how to support my clients who had a history of perinatal loss or experienced a loss while working with me. While I had had a miscarriage myself, I knew that my own experience couldn’t teach me how to support every loss parent. I set out to learn more and realized along the way that I wanted to find other ways to support loss families. So I started co-facilitating Bereaved Parents Community Group. I’m not sure where this journey will take me, but I’m looking forward to further discerning what grief work will look like for me.

What advice do you have for non-doulas who are considering becoming a Haven Certified Bereavement Doula? 

Try not to feel intimidated by the process of becoming a bereavement doula. Take it one step at a time. Taking the Haven Bereavement Doula training was a very helpful step for me. Everyone, birth doulas and those new to doula work, is taking the training to learn how to better support loss families. Your input and insight matter, so don’t be afraid to share and ask questions. You will learn a great deal from Abby and from the other participants. Once you have completed the training, tackle the certification process piece by piece. Each part of the certification process will help you become a better bereavement doula and discern how you can serve loss families. 

Summer 2024 Book Club: The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy

We are eager to announce that the Haven Bereavement Doula summer book club will meet to discuss The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America.

On Wednesday nights (July 10, 17, and 24), from 7pm-8:15pm Central, we will meet over Zoom to discuss the introduction through Chapter 4 (July 10), to discuss Chapter 5 through the conclusion (July 17), and to have an intimate q&a session with author, Dr. Lara Freidenfelds (July 24).

You can register at the link below.

The cost for the book club covers the speaker fee for the author; it does NOT include the book. Check your local library for a free copy!

If you are working toward becoming an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula, recall that this book fulfills one of your required reading list sections!

Why you should – or should not – become an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula

Do not become an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula if:

  • You want to coach, direct, or lead people through their grief. As HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doulas, we follow the best practices of grief work and take a companioning approach to grief.
  • You are not yet a doula and are planning to take only expected live birth doula clients. This course will not focus on such births other than in the context of anticipated infant loss and, frankly, will therefore not prepare you very well.
    • Haven Bereavement Doulas does offer trainings for expected live birth doulas who want to strengthen their loss support skills but are not planning to specialize in bereavement support. Look into our 3-hour Caring for Clients through Loss training.
  • You want a certification or credential solely for use with insurance companies. As many insurance companies still do not provide benefits to families who experience a loss, especially before viability, pursuing insurance accreditation is not currently our primary goal.

If these descriptions don’t apply to you, read on:

  • Join us if you’re passionate about making the world a more supportive place for loss families.
  • If you’re already a doula, strengthen your skills through our training if you want to level up your support for doula clients, incorporating bereavement support as a specialization.
  • Use our comprehensive training to prepare yourself to take on the roles of both a birthworker and a griefworker, if you are not currently a doula but you want to become exclusively a bereavement doula.

Check out our How To page for more information about taking your next steps toward becoming an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula.

The HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula Reading List

Like many other doula certification programs, ours has a reading list. We provide it here so that everyone who is looking for resources on bereavement support can engage with them, whether you’re currently part of our program or not!

Find this list at the St. Louis Public Library here.

Category 1: Birth Education

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. Candidates who have already read The Birth Partner are encouraged to revisit it, through re-reading or through skimming, and consider how the material can be reinterpreted specifically for bereavement births.

Category 2: Grief Education

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read Counseling Skills for Companioning the Mourner by Dr. Alan Wolfelt.

Category 3: Cultural Competency – Race

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read What God is Honored Here? Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color, an anthology edited by Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang.

Category 4: Cultural Competency – Spirituality

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates choose one of the following books to read for certification:

Category 5: History of Birth/Loss Support

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read a book specific to the history of loss in their current context (i.e., most U.S.-based candidates read The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America by Lara Freidenfelds).

Category 6: Children’s Books

Children’s books can be powerful tools, both for children and adults. HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates choose any two of these children’s books to review.

Category 7: Business Strategy and Ethics

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read “The Bereavement Doula’s Business Manual” by Dr. Abby Jorgensen. This is available to candidates at no extra cost.

5 reasons why every doula should strengthen their bereavement support skills

Not every doula should become a bereavement doula.

But you should strengthen your bereavement support skills anyway.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. You’re going to support families through bereavement, whether you want to or not. If you do this work long enough, you are going to encounter miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. For some of us, it’s at our first birth. For others, it’s our one hundredth birth. But perinatal loss is the reality that many families face, so as a doula, it’s only a matter of time before you will face it as well.
  2. If you’re going to provide bereavement support, it’s important to do it well. We can do a lot of damage when we guess or pretend we know things. That’s true in any support role; it may be especially true when we support someone through grief.
  3. Families who have experienced a loss previously may be looking for a doula – and you can demonstrate your commitment to them and other loss families through your grief-informed practice. Families expecting after a loss may specifically seek someone who has an idea of what they’ve gone through – and is ready and willing to help them with the emotions, difficulties, and joys of a rainbow pregnancy.
  4. You’re most ready to support a family through a loss or after a loss if you’ve prepared for it. That means that ideally we all strengthen our bereavement skills BEFORE we need them. Level up your grief defaults by taking a Basics of Bereavement Support class, or a Caring for Clients through Loss class, BEFORE you need to have already taken it. (These are accredited for continuing education hours through DONA International, so they can also help you prepare for recertification.)
  5. Bereavement support skills apply in any situation of loss, not just the loss of a little one. If someone has a kind of birth they didn’t want, or loses a loved one or coworker during pregnancy, or experiences a life change they weren’t expecting, your bereavement support skills will be immediately applicable and helpful.

Don’t delay on strengthening your instincts and expanding your toolkit. Join us in one of our HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula trainings, or sign up for free tips through our newsletter, today.

Free resource for clients: Bereaved Parents Community Group

Did you know that there is a free virtual community group that meets monthly, just for parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss?

Every loss parent is warmly and gently invited to join us as we gather for solidarity, ideas-sharing, and presence.

This group is facilitated by Julie McKay and Dr. Abby Jorgensen. We meet on Zoom on the second Monday of each month, at 7pm Central / 8pm Eastern. You can learn more about the group or send your clients to learn more about the group here.

Loss parents, you’re not alone.

Talking about loss on social media

As a birthworker, you know that social media is an important part of reaching folks and letting them know what you’re about. But you also know that creating content is a long and tiring process, especially when the content matter is sensitive.

Grief and loss are some of the hardest topics to talk about, especially in spaces such as social media. But, if you want to demonstrate your support of loss families, grief and loss *need* to show up somewhere on your grid or in your feed.

I’ve made two sets of templates to help you post about these difficult but necessary topics. The 2024 Social Media Template includes 34 posts for specific days, weeks, and months throughout the year (all of which can be simply updated with new dates and used again for future years). The October Social Media Template includes 31 posts, one for each day of October (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month).

A database of children’s books about grief and loss

When children experience a loss, finding ways to help them understand and cope is a crucial part of the grieving process for families. This is where the power of reading comes in. But, there are many, many children’s books about grief, death, and even perinatal loss. No need to find them all; we’ve reviewed them for you.

We carefully curate our database of children’s books to help you find beautifully written and illustrated stories that will help your family discuss difficult topics of grief, death, and perinatal loss. We have evaluated each listed book on its ability to assist bereaved families (especially older siblings and other children) by offering empathic, accurate, and gentle guidance.

The database includes detailed reviews, ratings, and a description of the content and tone—including note of spiritual or religious perspectives. This information helps parents, bereavement doulas, and other support people quickly find the books that are most likely to help them navigate difficult conversations. Thus, our comprehensive guide stands as your supportive companion through the process of finding the children’s book that best fits your situation and your loved ones or clients.