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Text for Hope: Using technology to help grieving families

Losing a child is the most devastating event a parent will ever face. Although everyone handles their grief differently, having a supportive community is critical. That’s why Children’s Wisconsin created Text for Hope, a first-of-its-kind service that provides support to grieving families by offering comfort, community and reminders that they are not forgotten.

What is Text for Hope?

Text for Hope reaches out digitally to bereaved parents following their child’s death. Parents receive a text message every week for an entire year that could include informational websites about grief, inspirational quotes, advice and support from other grieving parents and helpful blog posts. Parents have the option of signing up for this free service, which is just one part of Children’s Wisconsin’s Bereavement Program.

“Text for Hope texts my phone, and it’s a private and unobtrusive healing process,” said one parent using the program. “I feel like I’m getting the support I need without having to talk about it.”

Pause and focus

Resources shared in these text messages are the bridge to a community of bereaved parents and can provide the right information at the right time during the grieving process.

“Friends and family who have never lost a child may find it hard to relate to or comfort the grief of a parent who has,” said Nichole Schwerman, bereavement coordinator at Children’s Wisconsin. “This is why Children’s Wisconsin strives to provide a community that parents can go to for comfort and support.”

Text for Hope launched in February of 2018 and is already comforting parents. “This program is a nice weekly reminder to intentionally pause and focus on my grief and child because life and society doesn’t always encourage those times,” said another parent using the program.

Text for Hope is part of Patient Journey, an app created by Children’s Wisconsin to guide families through their child’s care journey. Patient Journey is just one way Children’s Wisconsin reaches millennial parents through digital innovation.

“We want to reach families where they are, and for many parents, that means through their phones,” said Schwerman.

Help through the hardest time

Physicians and staff at Children’s Wisconsin understand that grief is an unending process.

“Although a family’s time at Children’s Wisconsin may be over, the relationships we’ve built will last a lifetime,” said Schwerman. “Our goal is to support parents even after the final goodbye, because the journey doesn’t end there.”

Text for Hope is available for anyone who is grieving, regardless of whether their child was treated at Children’s Wisconsin. The Bereavement Program plans to offer a Spanish version as well in order to be accessible to more families. To learn more about Text for Hope, call (414) 266-2995.