Thrive by IU Health

July 02, 2021

Growing through grief, one charm at a time

IU Health Arnett Hospital

Growing through grief, one charm at a time

“I wanted to make grief a little lighter for those who have lost a loved one,” explained Jen Hittle, BSN, RN and CNML manager of Corporate Affairs & Risk Management for the West Central Region for IU Health.

Jen Hittle

To say that Hittle is resilient is quite the understatement. After tragically losing her son, Brenton, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 2013, she was determined to transform her grief into acts of gratitude. After ordering some jewelry from a website that specializes in making and selling custom memorial pieces for those who have lost a child, Hittle realized that this was her calling. She was determined to become a part of something that helps create tangible tokens to remember lost loved ones.

Hittle’s journey through the loss of her son is ultimately what fueled her fire. In 2018, she reached out to the owner of Elle Bird Jewelry business-which was the company she had ordered from before-and asked if the owner would consider training her in hopes of opening up an Elle Bird business in West Lafayette. It wasn’t until 2019 that Hittle was fully ready and thus launched her own Elle Bird business online.

Hittle carries on the Elle Bird legacy by creating and selling these beautiful memorial pieces. What makes it even more special is that the proceeds from each sale help fund more materials for Hittle. This ultimately supports her mission as a nonprofit business owner because she uses those funds to create and donate a charm piece to a family who recently lost a loved one or child.

Learn more about Hittle's charm business.

Elle Bird

Open Arms Miscarriage and Infant Loss support group

In addition to her charm business, Hittle also teamed up with another IU Health nurse, Sarah Norkus, to launch the “Open Arms Miscarriage and Infant Loss” grief support group. Hittle and Norkus were able to connect over the shared and devastating losses of their children. Their goal has been to give these parents a place where they can feel uplifted and supported as well as a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel of grief.

Open Arms Miscarriage and Infant Loss support group meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6-8 pm in the physician’s lounge of the IU Health Arnett Medical offices, 2600 Greenbush Street, Lafayette.

About SIDS

While the cause of SIDS is unknown, many clinicians and researchers believe that SIDS is associated with problems in the ability of an infant to wake from sleep, to detect low levels of oxygen or a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. In order to reduce the risk of a child dying from SIDS, there are a few crucial precautions a parent should take:

  • Always place a child on their back to sleep
  • Using a flat or firm sleeping surface
  • Giving your baby plenty of tummy time while they are awake in order to strengthen their muscles
  • Keeping soft items or toys away from the baby’s sleeping area reduces the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.