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Episode 24 - Compassionate Care and Dignified Decisions for Grieving Families with Rebekah Beresford


Join us for a conversation with Rebekah Beresford about how she found hope and healing after a traumatic experience delivering her stillborn daughter, Eliana, at a hospital. She was not offered to hold or see her daughter and later realized that Eliana's ashes were taken as medical waste to a landfill.

Through her story of deep pain and sorrow, Rebekah shares why offering compassionate care and dignified decisions at the hospital is crucial for grieving families to have peace in their grieving journey. She shares practical advice for nurses and points them to pursue bereavement training through the organization Rachel's gift. Rebekah speaks to grieving moms about how Jesus' light can overcome the darkness of grief and trauma.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • What is hospital disposition and why are babies being taken to landfills?

  • The importance of bereavement training for nurses

  • Why offering dignified decisions should be the standard of care at hospitals

  • The victory of Jesus and how He will redeem and restore our pain

  • How do we find justice in devastating experiences?

  • God's presence in pain and how to feel Him when He feels far away

  • How God loves us so personally and how much He loves our babies

  • Rachel's gift organization and what they offer to hospitals

  • Why there must be a distinction between human life and trash

  • Serving others and being a voice for our babies in Heaven

Full transcript below.

Each episode has a special Hope Guide that you can download by clicking the button below. It is packed with hope-filled resources and extra information from the episode!

Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)

  1. Rebekah shares that she felt abandoned by God in the midst of her traumatic loss and initial months of grieving. However, later on, she asked Him to reveal where He was in those tragic moments, and she began to feel His presence. In what moments do you need to ask God: "Where were You?" Spend some time writing about your hardest moments and seeking Him for answers.

  2. Losing a baby is a traumatic experience whether your story is similar to Rebekah's or not. It's common to experience PTSD symptoms after losing a baby. What symptoms have you endured and has anyone validated your grief and loss? Spend some time acknowledging your pain below.

  3. Ashley shares that true justice will happen because God is just and Jesus is coming back. We will be with our babies for eternity. How does that hope comfort you now in the middle of your sorrow? Write out a prayer clinging to the hope that Jesus will one day wipe away your tears and resurrect your baby.

Graphics to share on social media or pin on Pinterest!



Rebekah Beresford is married to Montana and is a mother to three children: two on earth and one in Heaven. Rebekah lives with her family in Kentucky.

Rebekah discovered Bridget’s Cradles in her search for bereavement resources after the loss of her daughter, Eliana Rose, in May of 2019. Rebekah has partnered with the organization, Rachel's Gift, to spread awareness about bereavement training and care.

Connect with Rachel's Gift:

Facebook: /rachelsgift06

Instagram: @rachels_gift




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Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,250 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 bereaved families a year.

Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.

Connect with Ashley:

Facebook /ashleyopliger

Instagram @ashleyopliger

Pinterest /ashleyopliger

Follow Bridget’s Cradles:

Facebook /bridgetscradles

Instagram @bridgetscradles

Pinterest /bridgetscradles

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Episode 24: Compassionate Care and Dignified Decisions for Grieving Families

with Rebekah Beresford

Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ who founded Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit ministry in memory of my daughter, Bridget, who was stillborn at 24 weeks.

Cradled in Hope is a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms to find comfort, hope, and healing after the loss of a baby. We want this to be a safe place for your broken heart to land.

Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to heal our hearts, restore our joy, and use our grief for good. With faith in Jesus and eyes fixed on Heaven, we do not have to grieve without hope. We believe that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven.

Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.

Ashley Opliger: [00:51:24] Our guest today is a dear friend I've been looking forward to you meeting. Her name is Rebekah Beresford and she is married to her husband, Montana, and a mother to three children, two on earth and one in Heaven.

Rebekah lives with her family in South Central Kentucky. She discovered Bridget’s Cradles in her search for bereavement resources after the loss of her daughter, Eliana Rose, in May of 2019. Rebekah is passionate about spreading awareness pertaining to bereavement training and care specifically in the area of hospital disposition.

This episode is for both grieving moms and for hospital staff and nurses to listen to, because her story is powerful and important for all of us. After enduring a traumatic experience at the hospital and a disrespectful burial in a landfill for her daughter, Rebekah’s heart is tender for grieving families and desires to see a change in bereavement care for families who have lost a baby.

Together with Bridget’s Cradles and one of our partner organizations, Rachel's Gift, she is making that change in memory of her daughter, Eliana.

I've been blessed to become friends with Rebekah. You'll hear our story later in the episode. She attends our Hope Online support groups and I also had the honor to meet her in person while I was in Nashville this past March. Although she has been through so much trauma and pain, she is just the sweetest person you'll ever meet and has such a heart for the Lord. I can't wait for you to make a new friend in her. Let's welcome Rebekah.

Ashley Opliger: [00:02:18] Welcome, Rebekah. Thank you so much for being here.

Rebekah Beresford: [00:02:21] Thank you, Ashley. I'm happy to be here with you today.

Ashley Opliger: [00:02:25] Well, we have a lot to talk about today. This has just been so heavy on my heart all week, knowing that we were going to have this conversation today, because it is such a burden on my heart that your story and your daughter's story has impacted my life.

And I feel so strongly that your story is powerful, and is going to bring about healing and bring about change. And this conversation is so important and I'm really looking forward to you sharing your story and bringing to light everything that you've walked through. And so I would love for you to introduce yourself and share Eliana's story with us.

Rebekah Beresford: [00:03:07] Yeah, thank you. And I want to say that I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share her story and be a voice for her. Just your response and kindness and compassion, it's another step I feel like towards healing and a balm on such a painful wound.

My name is Rebekah. I live in Kentucky in a small town, married to my husband, Montana. And I have two living boys. Cannon is four, and my son Cayden is 17 months, and we have a daughter Eliana in between the boys that is now in the arms of Jesus.

When we got pregnant with Eliana, my husband and I felt very strongly from the beginning that it was going to be a girl, but we didn't know yet. We hit the quote-unquote “safe mark” at 12 weeks. And I was very naive to what I knew miscarriage to be.

I thought, “Now that we're past the safe point, there's nothing to really be too afraid of,” but at 13 and a half weeks, I started bleeding. We rushed to the ER, it was revealed that I had a subchorionic hemorrhage that was very large. After all the ultrasounds and exams, they said that I had a 50% chance of miscarrying but to just go home; if the bleeding subsided, that was a good sign, but if I continued to bleed, then it would result in miscarriage.

And so my husband didn't let me lift a finger for a week. He made sure I was on bed rest. He stayed home from work. We felt very hopeful all week. I felt that God was going to heal me and everything was going to be great. And the bleeding had stopped, there was no sign of any worry.

And exactly seven days later, I started having really bad cramps all throughout the night, I actually couldn't sit down or even lay down. And so I kept telling myself, “Everything's fine.” I was praying. And it got to the point in early morning where I had to wake up my husband and tell him, “I've got to go to the ER.”

And I went in, they actually removed two very large blood clots from my cervix, and the doctor told me that's what was causing my pain. But she said I wasn't in labor. They did an ultrasound. They said my baby was happy and kicking, which made me so relieved.

I was still in immense pain, so they gave me a medication I wasn't familiar with. I didn't know it at the time, but it was a sedative. And so once I took it, I started feeling very relaxed right away and very, almost like loopy. And so my grandma drove me home and the doctor had told me before we left, “If you start bleeding or the pain comes back, then you need to come back in. But for now, everything is good. You can go home and rest.”

And I wasn't home for longer than 15 minutes and the pain came back so strong. I can't even describe the amount of pain. I crawled to the recliner and I called for my husband to come in immediately. I threw up and I started feeling like I might pass a blood clot again. So I went to stand up and my water broke, and he rushed me to the hospital.

It was only a 10-minute ride and I had soaked through a beach towel with blood. And honestly, on the way to the hospital, I was still thinking that we were going to come back from this, that God could do anything. And I had no doubt He was going to heal me. Looking back in retrospect, I know it was like emotional whiplash.

And so we get to the hospital, they get me into a triage room right away. I couldn't talk or speak because I was just in so much pain. I was trying to concentrate on not passing out because I didn't want to miss what was going to happen, but it was just so painful. And I was begging them to give me something for the pain.

They had to get an IV started, so that took a little bit, and then there was a nurse that stuck me in the leg with morphine. And the doctor said, “I think that you're having a miscarriage. You need to lay back so I can do an ultrasound and see.” She did the ultrasound. She said that the baby was no longer in my uterus and I needed to lay back and push because they were in the birth canal.

She's asked me to give one push and I'll try to be brief because this is graphic, just for a warning if anyone has small children around. I pushed, and I remember her grabbing a tool, and she reached in and just started grabbing and pulling. And she said that the baby had been decapitated, and she started describing parts she was pulling out. And my husband asked her to stop, because him watching me go through that was very traumatic. And so there was so much going on in the room.

And then while this was happening, we could hear laughter from, I don't know if it was a break room or another room, but it just felt like a nightmare. There was this loud laughter while we were going through the most painful moment of our lives. After she had pulled as much as she could out, she leaned forward and said, “It looks like it was a boy,” and she left the room.

I just started crying, because we hadn't found out the gender until then. And my husband said that they put the body in a bucket on top of a trash can. And the doctor and the nurse left the room and we were still just trying to catch our breath. I was still sitting on the table in so much blood, and our nurse came in and said that we needed to sign paperwork.

And we were really just so shocked and I wasn't in any state to read anything. I had been put on so many medications at that point, and so I asked her what this was. And she said that this was paperwork to do with the remains. And she said, “You basically have two options.” She held up two fingers and said, “You can either send the baby to pathology and maybe find out why this happened, or you can send the baby to a funeral home and pay for services.”

And we just sat there blank. We asked her, “What do we do? We don't know what to do in this situation.” And we said, “What do people do?” Because we had never considered something like that before. Losing our baby, that wasn't on our radar.

And so she said, “Well, I've never had anyone send a baby to a funeral home under 20 weeks, but if you send the baby to pathology, you could maybe find out why this happened.”

And in that moment, we felt like maybe she was right, like that would bring us the most peace, because it was such a whiplash of emotions. Everything was fine and then all of a sudden, we were just in this really horrific delivery. So in that moment, we felt, “Okay, maybe she's right. Pathology’s the best option.”

And after that, I had to go up and have a D&C for my placenta and I had to be awake for that. And so when I was getting the spinal block for this D&C, it was just so surreal. As I was laying there, I had these hot tears streaming down my face because my husband couldn't be in there with me. I was all alone and no one had recognized that we had lost our baby. No one had said, “I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry you're going through this.”

It just felt like I was being shifted into all these different procedures. And then when I was being wheeled out, the nurse asked me if I wanted to be wheeled out the side door, and I didn't understand why she said that or suggested that. I was thinking, “My husband is pulling out front for me.”

And when she did wheel me out front, there were all these mothers sitting there on the curb, in their wheelchairs, holding their newborn babies. And that was the first time that it hit me, “I'm not going home with my baby in my arms or in my belly.”

And the medication didn't wear off til the next morning but when I woke up, for weeks I woke up the same way, sobbing and devastated. I didn't realize until that next morning, I never held my baby. I never saw him, but we named him, because at this point we thought he was a boy.

I felt like I had to convince myself I was pregnant and I did have a loss, because no one said it. And so the lack of recognition was really difficult in those next few weeks.

Ashley Opliger: [00:11:28] Rebekah, I've heard your story several times now, as we've become closer friends and you’ve come to our support groups. Every single time my heart just breaks a million times over. The trauma that you went through, the pain, no one acknowledging that this was a baby that you were losing, and their disregard for the sanctity of life of your baby, it is so incredibly heartbreaking.

And I think that pregnancy loss in and of itself is painful and hard enough, but then to go through such a traumatic experience at the hospital and to be regarded in that way, I think made it so many times harder for you to walk through your grief journey after you left the hospital.

So would you talk about that, what your grief looked like in the days following leaving that hospital without your baby?

Rebekah Beresford: [00:12:20] It was really disorienting. I gave the hospital and the people who took care of me so much benefit of the doubt that I just trusted what happened was normal. And so I was trying to process and understand and just reconcile with: my baby was decapitated and dismembered.

That was honestly something I've wrestled with for not just weeks, it was months afterward. It kept me awake at night. It was like it was constantly going through my head. I thought maybe my body did something wrong or I did something wrong because that didn't feel normal to me.

And then where I had just seen the heartbeat two hours before I was pushing, I was lost in this train of thought of, “Did my baby feel anything?” And that was so troubling to me of not knowing of this horrific delivery of what my baby felt or didn't feel, and then not seeing them or holding them was so hard. It felt like I couldn't close this wound.

And so I started pursuing, “Maybe I just need to talk about it and hear from other people what their miscarriage was like.” And when I tried to talk to people or listen to people share about a miscarriage, especially if it was at the hospital, they had such compassionate care and there was nothing like the delivery of what I had. And if I tried to share, it would really push people away and make them uncomfortable, which made me feel even more isolated.

And the more stories I listened to of people getting to hold and see their baby made me angry. And so I start