The Light: Room 12 at Aalborg University Hospital

Cultivating a more empathetic environment for families experiencing stillbirth is at the heart of a collaboration between arts and health collective Studio Poesis and staff from the Department of Obstetrics at Aalborg University Hospital in North Denmark.

Delivery Room 12 is the result of a Culture and Health initiative developed in 2021 where staff, families, and artists have worked closely together to create a caring framework for the births of deceased babies and late term terminations at Aalborg UH.

This new framework enables a complete experience where design, sound, light, and ritual practices create a supportive environment for families and staff. The room has been developed under the theme of patient-centred culture and healing architecture, with a special focus on families experiencing grief and loss.

The commemorative artwork and ritual ‘The Light’ has been developed specifically for Room 12 to create a calming backdrop for the first meeting and final farewell with the infant, offering families a supportive element in the grieving process. The artwork combines various artistic practices – interior architecture, interactive digital art, and dramaturgy – to create a healing and reassuring environment.

The physical surroundings can help to soothe, calm, provide warmth, offer hope, and perhaps contribute to making it a bit meaningful, even in a situation where all might feel hopeless. – Leading midwife, Sandra Bang-Schnack, Aalborg UH

In the ritual, the midwife takes on the role of a host for the farewell, and through meaningful actions, stages a beautiful and resilient shared memory to support families through the grieving process. A light is lit, a poem chosen by the family is recited, and two crocheted plush toys are shared between the parents and the child. The ritual is conducted following the principle of ‘shared participation,’ wherein artists and healthcare staff have tailored the ritual to fit the specific practices in the department.

Photo: Aalborg University Hospital, 2022

When she was born, she was lying in her crib. She lay over there (in the corner in a crib), and we had this (sound of The North Sea) playing, and I remember that as a very fine visual thing, seeing her lying there with the waves in the background. I thought it was just lovely. – Mother of stillborn

Some of the early detected effects of the space (in fall 2022) are that it encourages open conversation and sharing of burdens and thoughts due to its homeliness and the distance from typical hospital environments. It physically and mentally relaxes the parents. The sound and media production of ‘The Light’ creates a sensation of time standing still, and the sense of time is lost, which further envelops the atmosphere to better facilitate the grieving process. The parents feel safe leaving their child in the care of the staff, which makes it easier to leave the grounds.

We focus very much on the psychological aspect. And I think, for example with our ritual, it helps to create good memories, that they can take with them when they leave the delivery room. – Midwife, Mette Ville Jensen, Aalborg UH

Studio Poesis 

Our Health-Integrated Artworks stem from a vibrant collaboration between our Arts and Health professionals. Together, we explore how art can enrich significant life moments, offering valuable insights shared by our Health Ambassadors. Our goal is to seamlessly re-connect the worlds of art and health.


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