Grief & Bereavement Information

The Children’s Organizational Resource Acknowledging Life and Loss (CORAL) Bereavement Program offers family-centered bereavement services. The mission of CORAL is to help families cope with loss by caring for their well-being while helping their healing. We do this by:

  • Making grief care consistent throughout the hospital
  • Aiding in good communication within the family and with care team members
  • Giving information about helpful resources outside of the hospital

The CORAL Bereavement Program is a program within Pediatric Palliative Care Department at the Medical University of South Carolina. We are always available to support you and your family during this incredibly difficult time. Please know that we wish you comfort and peace.

Feel free to contact the Grief and Bereavement Coordinator, Tara Walker, at 843-518-1738 or walkerta@musc.edu if you have questions, concerns or needs. The Grief and Bereavement Coordinator is typically available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but feel free to leave a voicemail or email at any time. Your message will be returned as soon as possible.

Program and Services

  • Grief and Bereavement Coordinator
    • A Grief and Bereavement Coordinator is available to answer questions and provide support throughout this incredibly difficult time. The coordinator has current information regarding supportive services at the Medical University of South Carolina, community and state-wide support groups and professional counselors throughout South Carolina. The coordinator can also assist you in researching support and assistance in your hometown in South Carolina or out of state.

  • CORAL Bereavement Follow-Up Program
    • Continuing supportive relationships with bereaved families beyond the hospital can be extremely helpful in the healing process. The CORAL Bereavement Follow-Up Program offers the opportunity for continued support between the hospital and bereaved parents following the death of their child. The Bereavement Coordinator contacts families every three months via phone or email for the first year following their child’s death. This is an opportunity for continued emotional support as families process their grief, but also an opportunity to ask questions and receive access to supports that may be helpful as time progresses. Access to supports could include:
      • Community resources for grief support outside of MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital
      • Assistance with funeral planning and access to local/state/national resources
      • Books and websites with information regarding the loss of a child and coping
    • This CORAL Bereavement Follow-Up Program can be tailored to best meet the needs of each family with check-ins as often, or as little, as needed.

  • Service of Remembrance
    • Each year at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, we remember children who have died throughout the year. We do this by offering a time for you, your family and the staff of MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital to come together. We will have music, special readings, photographs, and a special gift for you in the memory of your child. The service will typically be held on a weekend in November, which allows time for travel. It can be an incredibly meaningful time for your family and friends to share with you in the memory of your child.

  • Tender Memories Support Group (Fetal and Infant Loss)
    • Creating and continuing supportive relationships with other bereaved parents can be very helpful in the healing process. We hold monthly virtual support groups, where bereaved parents who have experienced a fetal or infant loss can discuss their grief, feelings and experiences. Our hope is that the families in attendance will build life-long supportive relationships.
    • The Tender Memories Support Group is currently held virtually twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Mondays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Please contact Mary Ernst for more information and to register at ernstm@musc.edu or by phone at 843-792-6395.

  • Library of Resources
    • We have many books and pamphlets available regarding the unique death of a child and the grief that follows. We have books available that discuss infant and child death, sibling grief and the unique grief of teenagers. These include story books, work books, and information pamphlets. 

For Parents

  • Following the death of your child, you may feel shock, devastation, numbness, and incredible sadness, among many other things. Amid your grief, it can be difficult to know what you immediately need to do and who you can turn to for help. We understand that this can be overwhelming and unfair as you are experiencing an incredible loss. Below, you will find a list of immediate matters that need attention in the hours and days following the passing of your child. Please know, you do not have to do any of this alone. Ask for help from family and friends who are available, as well as feel free to reach out to the Bereavement Coordinator if you need guidance.

  • Please refer to this document on resources for parents following the death of a child (PDF)

For Siblings & Children

  • When a brother, sister, friend or cousin dies, children will have their own special needs related to the loss. They may not grieve in the same way as adults, but even the youngest children will feel the impact of a death in the family. Taking the time to help children grieve the loss can help them, as well as you, heal during this difficult time.

  • Please refer to this document on how to communicate with children and siblings (PDF)

For Family & Friends

  • As with any death, those who are grieving turn to family and friends for support, assistance with decisions and help with everyday activities and tasks. When the death that has occurred is that of a child, it can be even more difficult to know how to help grieving parents and family members.

  • Please refer to this document on how to help family and friends (PDF)

Let Us Know How We Can Help

We are always available to support you and your family during this incredibly difficult time.

Feel free to contact the Grief and Bereavement Coordinator, Tara Walker, at 843-518-1738 or walkerta@musc.edu if you have questions, concerns or needs. The Grief and Bereavement Coordinator is typically available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but feel free to leave a voicemail or email at any time. Your message will be returned as soon as possible.