Support for Bereaved Families


The MA Center for Unexpected Infant and Child Death staff contacts the family to provide crisis counseling, preliminary autopsy information, and notification that a bereavement counselor will call to schedule a home visit. A condolence letter is sent to the family with appropriate information about the grieving process. All families are informed of parent support group meetings and availability of parent-to-parent contact. We encourage participation in support groups because they provide a nurturing environment in which parents can express their feelings, meet other grieving parents, and receive reliable information. 


The Center offers Service Training for therapists, teachers, child care providers, medical providers, first-responders, emergency departments, mental health professionals, home visitors, and related professionals. 

Training topics can include:

  • Responding to Sudden Unexpected Infant and Child Death- Strategies for the Professionals
  • Safe Sleep
  • Current research and practices 
  • Working with state agencies, interventions strategies
  • Theoretical constructs to grief 

For more information, please contact us. 

Home Visits

Community based licensed health care professionals provide optional bereavement counseling home visits to the family. The overall goal of the counseling is to provide education and normalization of the grief process, mobilize the strengths of the family to assimilate the loss of their child in a way that allows family members to continue to function.

Sixteen agencies and over 60 community based licensed health care professionals contract with the Center to provide follow-up to families during the first year of bereavement.

During family meetings, the professional will work with you on the following:

  • Anticipatory guidance regarding the grieving process
  • Evaluation of each family member's response to the death
  • Assessment social support systems
  • Provide the family with available resources
  • Obtain medical information for the Center's statistical data base
  • Review written autopsy reports (Note: This may not be received during the first year) 

Bereavement home visits and telephone contacts are offered during the first year of bereavement and beyond.  

Cultural Competency and Continuing Education

The Center conducts a two-day initial training program and an annual update program to prepare these professionals to provide bereavement support. Training programs include information on cultural awareness and sensitivity as well as cultural beliefs regarding death, dying and bereavement. 

Community based licensed health care professionals who provide bereavement counseling come from various racial and ethnic background including African-American, Haitian, Latino, Portuguese, West Indian and Cape Verdean. The Center staff train nurses who are fluent in Spanish, Haitian, French Creole, Portuguese and French. Appropriate bereavement follow-up is enhanced with the assistance of qualified interpreters. 

Bereaved Parent Support Group

The Massachusetts Center for Unexpected Infant and Child Death recommends support group meetings for parents, grandparents and care providers whose infants and young children have died of sudden infant death syndrome, medical illness, conditions of prematurity, stillbirth and accidental injury. Topics discussed include coping with grief, information about cause of death, changing relationships with family and friends, helping parents help children to comprehend the death of a sibling and feelings about subsequent children.

Many of the families we support have found it helpful to connect with other parents who have also lost a child. Parents report that meeting and talking to families in similar situations has been a tremendous part of the support process. 

Parent to Parent Contacts


We can provide your family with additional support resources including educational materials and local bereavement groups. Please visit our "Resources" part of our website for more information. 

Collaboration with state agencies

Compilation of epidemiological data to Department of Public Health