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Bereavement Information / Programs

Pregnancy/ Child Loss


One out of every five pregnancies ends in a perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a newborn). The grief associated with this loss can’t be measured, compared or quantified. Perinatal loss is mourned as the loss of the parents’ hopes and dreams for the future. This loss can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually devastating for the woman and her family. At West Penn Hospital, the staff provides care and support for the grieving woman and her family, while guiding them in their journey through the healing process.

The AngelHeart Perinatal Bereavement Team at West Penn accomplishes this with an interdisciplinary team that includes nurses, physicians, physician extenders, social workers, volunteers, pastoral care, and most importantly, the families. This team provides innovative and individualized care specific to the needs of each family. The team holds memorial services in June and December to which all families who have suffered a child loss are invited. Please contact us for more information.

The process of emotional and spiritual resolution is aided by providing the woman and her family with memorabilia significant to their loss. Follow-up care continues through personal contact and community outreach events encompassing other local hospitals. The memorial Butterfly Release event each June and Candlelighting memorial service each December provide platforms for the expression of grief that is silent in today’s society.

This multifaceted approach to holistic care helps to empower the bereaved family in what is perceived to be a powerless experience.


AngelHeart Perinatal Bereavement Team

The AngelHeart Perinatal Bereavement Team at West Penn Hospital is a comprehensive interdisciplinary program that facilitates the unique grieving process of families who have suffered a perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn) or death of a child.


Care of the Family

The Baby

Parents are encouraged to see, hold and touch their baby if they wish. Some parents find this to be a special bonding time with their baby and will cherish those memories in years to come. They can name the baby and a chaplain can be called if they wish to bless the baby or have it christened. Other family members are also welcome to hold the baby if they wish.


When appropriate, nurses will offer parents the opportunity to have photographs taken of the baby following the loss. Photographs are tastefully choreographed to supply parents with pictures that provide a lasting memory of their special baby.


  • A Memory Bag is provided containing hats, gowns, blankets, pictures and other keepsakes.
  • A Memory Box, containing a plaster casting of the baby’s footprints, is a special keepsake that is sent to parents after discharge.

Information packet

An information packet is provided to parents that includes:

  • Literature concerning the grief process
  • Inspirational readings and poetry
  • Support group information


Memorial Services

Annual Candlelighting Memorial Service

Parents will receive an invitation to attend the annual Candlelighting Memorial Service and reception held at West Penn Hospital in December. See photos from the event here.

Annual Memorial Butterfly Release

Parents will receive an invitation to attend the annual Memorial Butterfly Release event in honor of our beloved children held at West Penn Hospital in June. See photos from the event here.


Extended Services

  • Parents who have suffered a perinatal loss will receive a follow-up contact from the AngelHeart Bereavement Team after their loss.
  • A one-year anniversary card is sent to families during the month of their loss.


Team Members

AngelHeart Perinatal Bereavement Team members include Lorra Hess, BSN, RNC-OB, manager, Labor and Delivery, and the following West Penn Hospital Obstetrics members:

Christina Tew, BSN, RN, Team Leader
Sue Ardelitz, RN
Sally Bowker, RNC-OB
Linda Colbaugh, RN
Heidy Freund, BSN, RN
Joanne Germanos, RN
Kitty Greenhalgh
Jenny Halfhill, DO
Brittany Harkins, RN
Lorrie Just, RNC-OB
Carmela Kraft, PA
Monica Kraynek, MS, RNC-LRN, RN-BC
Jennifer Largent, BSN, RN
Michelle McCracken, BSN, RN
Darlene Miller, BSN, RN
Samantha Miller, BSN, RN
Pamela Rihn, RN
Patricia Rohm, RN
Lillian Roth, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Rebecca Schnatz, DO
Sandra Stanley, BSN, RNC-OB



Cookbook Fundraiser

Cookbooks are available for sale in West Penn Hospital Gift Shop, with proceeds of sales benefiting West Penn Hospital's AngelHeart Bereavement program.



Contact Us

To register for AngelHeart Bereavement events at West Penn Hospital or for any questions regarding our perinatal bereavement services, please call the West Penn Hospital Bereavement Line at 412.578.5763 or email Lorra Hess, RN, Obstetrics, at lhess@wpahs.org.


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