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Local family petitioning law to include parents grieving loss of child

PITTSBURGH — Two Monroeville parents who lost a child are now trying to change the Family and Medical Leave Act to include parents who are grieving in the same way.

Daniel Stern and his wife, Katie Stern, lost their son, Toby, when he was just three months old. Toby died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome last summer, and his parents told Channel 11 they were still grieving.

“People say it's a parent’s worst nightmare, and it is,” said Katie Stern. “You just have no idea how your world is going to change.”

However, they said what initially helped was their employers allowing them to “take their time” in returning to work because of the intense pain they were experiencing.


Daniel and Katie said the time they were able to take off without pressure from their jobs really helped their family grieve.

Though, they understand not every employer is that compassionate, so there are many other parents forced to deal with the loss of their child while returning to work almost immediately.

Some parents are forced to return to work just days after burying their child, since the law does not prevent it or provide any incentive for time off.

As it stands, the FMLA does not require employers to grant any paid-or-unpaid time off to parents after their child dies. The Sterns want to change that.

The Monroeville couple has joined a petition to add parents grieving the loss of a child to FMLA, which would allow them up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

There is currently a bill making its way through the US Senate floor.

Daniel and Katie Stern also in the process of creating a foundation in Toby's name “to bring happiness, like they found in Toby, back to grieving families.”