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Bonding over comfort birds

Last Modified: October 08, 2018

Generosity Heals, People of Parkview

Rachel Berry, RN, 3-surgical, Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC), shares a touching example of just how our Parkview nurses go above and beyond to give our patients the best possible care.

December 10, 2015.

It was just another seemingly normal start to a workday on 3-Surgical at PRMC. I got my assignment and was looking up information on my patients for the day. My phone began to ring. I answered and my mom gave me the worst news of my life. During the night my little sister, Becca, was killed in a car accident two days before her 24th birthday.

I remember that entire day all too vividly from there. It was hard and painful for me to return to work, but I began to find it healing to have the opportunity to do what I loved again. Striving to give my patients the best stay they could have, gave me a focus to take my mind, at least temporarily, off the train wreck my soul had been experiencing.

Then, in May 2016, my mother said she met a gentleman named Ted* who knew Becca. After explaining what had happened, Ted was amazed by the story and shared with my mourning mother the gift of a "comfort bird".

Ted, and his wife Lillian, have experienced their own share of very difficult trials, and they were inspired through their faith to find a way to help comfort others in their grief. They began the “comfort bird” project with the help of the Comfort Carvers, a men and women's club in a small Indiana town dedicated to hand carving the unique wooden birds we see on my unit today.

Every month, I receive comfort birds to pass out to my patients. My coworkers and I become elated when I bring new bags in full of birds in their sweetly and carefully packaged boxes because we know just how much joy they bring our patients, as well as us.

These comfort birds are handed out to patients and their family members who are suffering a loss, recovering from a medical condition or procedure, having a hard time coping with a life situation, or who simply need a little comfort getting through each day. These birds provide a simple gateway into gaining patient trust and offering therapeutic healing.

Each comfort bird tells its own story once it reaches its new home. Many times the patient has a connection to the symbol of the bird – Their husband used to set out birdseed so his wife could watch the birds as she rested after chemotherapy. A woman in pain gets comfortable enough to fall asleep and is found grasping tight to her wooden bird. Tears are often shed between nurse and patient. Trust is won. Care is taken to another level beyond patient expectations.



*The names of the couple that helped bring this gift alive have been changed, as they wish to remain anonymous.


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